Zaytoon is a new Middle Eastern restaurant on Vanderbilt and St. Marks. There’s another branch of it on Smith Street that I guess does okay. The Prospect Heights branch is recently opened, and I’d heard good things from a neighborhood friend. But maybe she’s never eaten Middle Eastern food ever before. Ever. Or maybe she has some disease where on her tongue crap tastes like filet mignon. It’s a mystery. Keep reading for an in-depth review of this new potential hot spot!
Okay – in the interest of total disclosure: when we first got there (me, mooseknuckle, and one more friend), the waitress came over and said ‘what can I get you gentlemen?’ In case you don’t know, pizappas is a lady. This waitress didn’t know, so maybe you don’t either. So as I proceed to write this scathing review there is always the possibility that my experience was taint(haha)ed from the very beginning. But whatever. Here goes….
I started out ordering a sampler platter. You know, the middle-easterners, they love their mezze. So I got the Zaytoon Combination Plate with (my choice) yogurt cucumber salad, fatoosh, babaganoush, stuffed grape leaves, and mujaderra.
Yogurt Cukes: these guys were near the best of the bunch, which is not saying much. A watery concoction that would have been an OK sandwich dressing did not hold up on its own. The topping of low grade feta did not help matters.
Fatoosh: In general I am a big fan of fatoosh, a salad featuring sour flavor from lemons and sumac, and toasted pita bread. What I was served didn’t actually seem like fatoosh. I think they might have accidentally substituted Israeli Salad, as it was a slightly soggy pile of cubed cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. No pita bread. So it was either a bad Israeli Salad or a really bad fatoosh.
Babaganoush: This shit tasted sweet! Not sweet like scoring free tickets to a G&R tribute band show. Sweet like the jujubes that are the only candy you have left 2 weeks after Halloween. I don’t know what the shit was wrong with it but it tasted bad and like eggplant candy. Not in a good way. Dudes, check your recipes.
Stuffed Grape Leaves: Passable. They weirdly had like one slightly hard chick pea in each stuffed leaf. wtf?
Mujaderra: When made well, this is a delicious concoction of rice and lentils topped with fried onions. When I passed this shit in the display counter on my way to the bathroom, I knew before I tasted it that I had made a mistake in ordering it from Zaytoon. However, when I asked the waitress to switch it a mere 3 minutes after ordering, she said it was too late. Bummer. No comps even. So when it gets to the table, I found that it was cold! Usually served warm to room temperature, as you may know when rice is cold it gets hard. One bite of hard, cold rice was enough so that I didn’t venture any further into this dish. And there weren’t even any fried onions on top!
So that takes care of my meal. It stank. Mooseknuckle got a shawarma sandwich that was OK. Except for that it was a wrap! Like, a 1995 looking wannabe gym bunnie type of wrap. Like, that fad when they thought that if you put a chicken ceasar salad in a wrap it made it healthy. But anyway. He liked it medium. In my opinion the meat was a little overdone.
Friend #2 got kibbe that were ginormous! Like the size of nerf footballs. So if you’re into portions, go for that one. The flavor was too heavy on the cinnamon and the texture was too mushy in the middle but it was at least recognizable as kibbe. Of the three dishes ordered, it was the best.
The bread is delicious, but extra breads come 50 cents a pop. Their little way of keeping Atkins’ dream alive. And no matter how delicious freshly baked pita bread is, it loses a bit of its luster when dipped in babaganoush that tastes like an eggplant had a baby with a sugar cube and then stepped on it. Then ate it and puked it back up. Then died and its body decomposed with the puke. Then a cat ate the decomposed puke body and shat it out on your plate and drizzled it with olive oil.
So, screw you Zaytoon. I hate you. I’m never going to eat at you again. PEACE!