A Culinary Change of PaceMay 01, 2018 ● By Christine Perrenot
Renowned Chef Jose Andres has years of experience cooking Mediterranean cuisine, and he opened the first Zaytinya location in Washington D.C. in 2002. Now, North Texas is home to the second location for this exclusive dining destination. His culinary creation is something unlike other restaurants you commonly find in our area.
My friend, Gina, and I decided to take a break from the weekly grind and head over to The Star for a relaxing dinner one rainy Wednesday evening. We both love to try new restaurants and foods, so I knew she was the perfect person to take on this dining adventure. While I adore the variety of restaurants you typically find throughout Texas (barbecue, Tex-Mex, etc.), I was excited to try a spot that was not on our usual list of venues to meet for dinner and drinks. I think we are all guilty of resorting to the same places out of convenience sometimes. So, it was time for a change of pace!
When we walked in Zaytinya, the friendly hostesses welcomed and escorted us past the huge bar area to a large, comfy booth in the dining room. The entire layout of the restaurant is open and spacious and the eye-catching bar sits in the middle of all the action. There is a mixture of tables and plush booths, and the kitchen and those working to prepare food in it are visible from every angle. There is even a space with bright fire and flames where cooks prepare fresh pita bread. The restaurant is refreshingly modern and very chic. It features splashes of deep blue color tones and tiles with much detail paid to create relaxing lighting throughout the space. Large windows facing outward toward the rest of The Star complex are lined with cactus plants, providing a bit of a “Texas” feel within the Mediterranean atmosphere.
Once we were comfortably seated, our waitress immediately brought ice water and the warmest, fluffiest pita bread I have ever tasted. The bread was piping hot and almost melted in my mouth after being dipped in the olive and pomegranate oil that was placed in the center of the table.
Our waitress explained that a lot of the items on the menu are designed so tables can order several dishes and share plates. Portions are not huge, so groups can try a little bit of everything. With that in mind, we decided to start with a cocktail and peruse the expansive menu to carefully select the items that we would share to make up our meal. I chose the Spice Cabinet cocktail, which features rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, thyme, cumin, lemon and cinnamon, while Gina went for the Ultimate G&T, complete with gin, tonic water, lemon, lime and berries. Both drinks were presented beautifully and were absolutely delicious. With our thirst officially quenched, we made a toast, caught up on the latest news and started discussing our plan for food.
With an initial glance at the menu, we had a few questions. There were several items listed that I was completely unknowledgeable about. I asked our waitress tons of questions and she graciously answered all of them. She even helped us pronounce some of the more challenging dish names. I am serious when it comes to trying new things and picking great menu items, and she was so helpful in offering advice and sharing some of her food preferences.
To start things off, we ordered the Greek Fries and Kolokitokeftedes (see what I mean about menu items that are hard to pronounce)? The large portion of Greek Fries came out in a cute, paper-lined silver basket and they were covered in seasoning. They were served with a white garlic yogurt sauce that was drizzled with yellow lemon oil. I could not stop dipping the fries into this tasty treat. The yogurt was so unique and almost tasted sweet on the salty fries, which produced a perfect and phenomenal combination of flavors. The Kolokitokeftedes plate was unlike anything else I have tried before, as the patties are made of zucchini and kefalograviera cheese and served atop a caper yogurt sauce. The patties are refreshing to eat and the light, fluffy texture provided a great taste not often found in local foods.
Next on our list of things to try was the Adana Kebab and the falafel. The Adana Kebab, listed under the Meat and Poultry Mezze section of the menu, featured ground lamb, grilled tomatoes, sumac, harissa pita and pickled chiles. I felt like it had the perfect amount of spice combined with bold flavors in the seasoning and chiles. The falafel, under the Vegetable Mezze section of the menu, was served with tahini sauce. If you are a falafel fan, do not miss out on this!
Next, I ordered the Soujouk Pide, while Gina got the Shish Taouk. The Soujouk Pide, considered a flat bread, was served on a long wooden plate. On the flatbread, there was kasar cheese, an egg cooked at 65 degrees and spicy, scrumptious soujouk sausage. Every bite was crunchy, spicy and flavorful. This may have been my favorite food! Once the lid of the copper serving platter was lifted off Gina’s Shish Taouk, the plate revealed grilled chicken with a serving of onions, hot peppers, grilled tomatoes and a side serving of yogurt dip. We had bites off each other’s plates and I was completely impressed by how fabulous everything (and there were a lot of things) sitting on our table was.
After agreeing that we could not eat one more bite, we hypocritically changed our minds when the option for dessert was presented to us. Zaytinya serves house-made ice creams and sorbets, Turkish Delight and Galatopita. We decided to really splurge and order the Chocolate Rose, which came with rose ice cream and chocolate custard. It was covered in spiced berry puree and garnished with bright red raspberries, whipped cream and brownie bites. The presentation was very colorful!
I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my experience at this new Frisco dining destination. It is always fun to step out of your culinary comfort zone and discover new dishes that you love and want to return to eat again in the near future.
Prepare your taste buds for something authentic and possibly, completely new. Zaytinya is located at 6655 Winning Drive, Suite 600, at The Star. You can check out the menu or make a reservation online at zaytinya.com. Cheers!
Frisco STYLE Magazine dining reviews are not scheduled with or paid for by the featured restaurant. All reviews are completed for the purpose of helping readers know and enjoy local dining options.