Yesterday, before watching my Tar Heels snag our fifth Championship title (squee!), I headed over to Zaytinya for a media preview of the Easter Menu.
While I’m still basking in the glow of my University of National Champions win, the Easter food and drink at Zaytinya certainly added to the wonderfulness of yesterday. So let me see if I can focus on food for a moment and tell you all about the Easter Festival headed our way…
April 13-26th, Zaytinya is celebrating Greek Easter. The holiday celebration will last two weeks, and is full of lamb, every way you could want it. The media preview had samples of the more adventurous lamb dishes – sweetbreads and squash flower stuffed with lamb brain. (Both were quite delicious, the sweetbread savory with a great texture, and the squash flower fried and stuffed.) But never fear, for those of you not quite as adventurous but still craving lamb, try the lamb pita. On the right in the picture above is the roast lamb on pita with tzatziki, perfectly seasoned with red onion. This was my second-favorite dish, and here’s the best part of it for you, WLDC reader: during the week, they are doing this dish on the patio to-go, which will be AMAZING. It’ll be like a classy gyro, and word is they’re serving it with iced tea for $7.If you work anywhere near there – in fact, even if you don’t – head on over for this special lunchtime treat, it’ll be worth your trip, I promise.
We also tried the dishes that will be available for your table. The second dish in the picture above, served on the silver spoon was the shrimp – my very favorite dish all night. It is poached in olive oil and topped with a yogurt-based sauce with perfect seasoning. The shrimp is just the way shrimp is supposed to be – succulent, sweet and with a perfect texture. I could have eaten a bucket of them.
We also sampled a mint spring soup topped with black olive oil served cold. It was fresh and thick. The final dish they passed around was a quail egg soaked in red wine – I’m not a big egg person, but the folks around me seemed to like it. Plus eggs are incredibly trendy right now. I suppose I need to get a grip and come to terms with the egg, but I just can’t quite do it. To each their own, I say.
So the night wasn’t just about the food, it was also about the drinks. Zaytinya was serving up delicious Dionysus wine, and two special cocktails. At one point, I literally had four drinks on the table. The first specialty drink was the cocktail that opened this post – a grape vodka based fruity cocktail that none of us really liked. The idea was fun, but we all agreed that grape vodka ruins everything – even the best intentioned cocktails (like this) tank when entrenched with a bout of always cough-syrupy grape vodka. So skip that one, but don’t feel cheated – the real star is the pink and white cocktail pictured above.
While perched at the bar we watched the mixologist work on the creamy Kykeon’s Cousin. I’m not known for hiding my feelings, and I wound up accidentally saying “EW” out loud when she poured egg whites in and mixed them with spoonfuls of plain yogurt. There was no way something good was coming out of that. I WAS SO WRONG – SO DEAD WRONG. It was anything BUT ew – it was 100% YUM. Smooth, velvety, sweet without saccharine, the cocktail was delicious and incredibly creative. It is unlike any cocktail I’ve ever had – a mix between a light milkshake and a Daiquiri (weird, right?), I promise it is worth a special trip to Zaytinya for. Head for the bar and ask for Kykeon’s (kee-key-on) Cousin, just don’t watch them make it.
The Easter menu at Zaytinya holds some true gems, I’d recommend stopping by at some point during the festival, I promise you won’t be disappointed.