Our first stop was the National Building Museum to see the LEGO Architecture exhibit. This exhibit displayed models of famous structures from around the world, like Fallingwater, the Empire State Building and Burj Khalifa, made entirely of LEGOs! Color me impressed.
Their visit also coincided with DC Restaurant Week, which gave us the perfect opportunity to try a new restaurant. We chose Jose Andres's Zaytinya because their mezze menu is perfect for sharing with a small group.
Since there was four of us, ordering was very easy. We just ordered one of everything from the restaurant week menu, with the exception of dessert which we ordered two of each.
The restaurant's food is inspired by Greek, Turkish and Lebanese cuisine. One thing that stood out to us almost immediately was their never-ending bread basket. We did not stop getting these baskets of puffy, warm pita breads the whole time. They must have switched out our baskets at least four times.
Our first courses consisted of hommus, imam bayildi (Ottoman style roasted eggplant stuffed with onions and tomatoes, karpuzi me feta (compressed watermelon, feta, kalamata olives and mint), and fattoush (tomato, cucumber, red onion, green pepper, radish, pita chips, pomegranate vinegar dressing).
Each dish was light and simple, which was a great place to start for our meal.
For our second course, we had seared salmon (Samke Harra-style with coriander, cardamom, pickled Lebanese chiles, pine nuts and tahini sauce), kotopoulo youvetsi (chicken, orzo, tomato, kefalograviera cheese), Ottoman pilaf (saffron rice, dates, pistachios) and shish taouk (grille chicken thigh, sumac, onions, garlic tuom, grilled tomatoes).
The orzo dish was by far the most unappealing dish of our entire meal. It was simply unexciting. I was surprised by the flavorfulness of the chicken, however, so that was a welcome surprise.
Then came some heavier dishes of crispy brussels afelia (brussels sprouts, coriander seed, barberries, garlic yogurt), keftedes kapama (beef meatballs, feta cheese, rustic tomato sauce, cinnamon, allspice), garides me anitho (sauteed shrip, dill, shallots, mustard, lemon juice), and adana kebab (skewered ground lamb, house-made harissa, grilled tomatoes, sumac, onions).
The two dishes that I thought I would love were just okay for me due to flavor issues. I typically love brussels sprouts in any preparation. I had a hard time with this version though because I found the sauce to have the consistency of a mayonnaise, which turned me off a bit. I did think that the addition of berries was very interesting and tasty. I also found that they were a little heavy handed with the dill on the shrimp dish as well.
Last but not least were desserts of Greek Yogurt and Apricots (muscat soaked apricots, vanilla yogurt cream, apricot sorbet and pistachio powder) and Turkish Delight (walnut ice cream, yogurt moose, honey gelee, orange-caramel sauce, caramelized pine nuts).
Both were a nice ending to a pleasant meal. I didn't find either dessert to be overly sweet and I was happy that they were both relatively light compared to the meal we had just completed.
Following lunch, we walked across the street to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art to see The Art of Video Games exhibit and walk around the permanent collection. Seeing this exhibit made me realize that I have pretty much been alive through the whole history that is explored in the exhibition. I am so old!
The rest of the day was spend at the National Gallery's Sculpture Garden, eating Korean bbq and watching ParaNorman.
The next day we ventured to Kushi, which had previously been one of my favorite restaurants in DC, for their jazz brunch. The music was slightly too loud and the service was unacceptably slow. If it weren't for those two factors, the meal would have been enjoyable as I thought the food was just as good as it had been every other time I have been there.
The brunch for two people included two cocktails, one starter, two entrees and a dessert. I ordered their Yuzu orange mimosa and ocean's oyako don (salmon sashimi and salmon roe with scallion, nori and wasabi over sushi rice) and shared the 2-piece raw oysters and the sea salt gelato.
After brunch, we visited the Air and Space Museum before we had to drop off the sib and his betrothed to Union Station.
701 9th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Kushi Izakaya & Sushi
465 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001