Sunday night, we meandered the mile or so from our hotel to Zaytinya for dinner. My boyfriend had been really looking forward to this - we meant to eat here the last time we were in town, but plans always change and we ended up somewhere else.
I'm going to apologize in advance for not know the names of what we ordered, for after picking a couple of dishes we wanted, we told the waiter we'd like to start with something light, and then that we'd also like a chicken dish and a lamb dish, and put our trust in his hands. The menu was overwhelming - so many different options, and we figured this would be easier, as well as adding that element of surprise to our dinner. This obviously meant that I had no idea what we were receiving, and had to repeatedly consult the menu to see exactly what we were eating.
After getting our drinks - a cocktail featuring apricots and orange blossoms and a restina cocktail for him, we received some puffy pita bread, still warm off the grill, and some olive oil.
Our "light" dishes included some hummus, with some olive oil drizzled over and some paprika sprinkled atop, and a cucumber and tomato salad with feta and olives and a greek wine vinaigrette.
Then came the tuna tartare, served with trout roe and tabouleh salad (a daily special), and something resembling a cheese flatbread pizza. These two, we had ordered. The "surprise" dishes were a marvelous braised lamb atop a bed of eggplant puree that had the texture of freshly whipped cream and tasted somewhat like pumpkin, and a moist chicken kebab served with sumac onions and a half a grilled roma tomato.
Dessert was again the waiter's recommendation - three plump medjool (sp?) dates, atop some pistachio custard and served with a scoop of something that tasted like yogurt ice cream, a cookie crumbled over the top. It was the perfect ending.
Service was excellent - clean dishes were promptly removed, bread and water was frequently refilled. The waiter was obviously helpful, choosing excellent dishes even though we didn't give him too much direction. The interior is a beautiful shade of blue reminiscent of the Mediterranean, with accents of silver. We were there around 7:30PM, and it was pretty much full when we arrived and when we left an hour later. Although I'm not often in the mood for this type of cuisine, I'd definitely return if I was, on a date, in a larger group to try more dishes, anytime.