While I’m not one to argue that $35 for brunch is by any means a “bargain,” it’s kind of the going rate in town these days – and it’s fair to say that Zaytinya’s Rosé Brunch is much better value than most of the bottomless offerings you’ll find in town. For that price you get a three glass flight of rosé and a full three course brunch meal – which includes Zaytinya brunch classics like hommos, hipiti, soujuk ide, maroulasalata, and menemen. You also get both of the desserts on offer (oh yeah) – lightly fried beignets with goat cheese and honey as one, and a small ramekin of Greek yogurt, apricot preserves, and crushed pistachios as the other. Throughout each course you’re also able to choose from plenty of vegetarian options, meaning there’s something for even the pickiest eater to enjoy.
Even with the broad range of menu options (we tried pretty much everything), the real star of the show is still the brunch falafel burger. The falafel is perfectly seasoned and spiced, complemented by the crisp coolness of a slice of beefsteak tomato and the rich gooeyness of a poached egg on top. It’s a filling breakfast sandwich that never veers into being too heavy or decadent, it’s served with a salad or fries, really rounding out the entire dish.
Should you somehow find yourself still hungry – which you won’t be – you’re still able to make a la carte additions to your meal from the full Zaytinya brunch menu. Their version of the French toast, made with brioche bread that’s been soaked in milk, covered in sugar, and then lightly caramelized has delightful texture and tartness, accented by slices of orange juice soaked bananas, raspberries and blueberries. And again, it’s another dish that sates without overpowering.
It’s clear that José Andrés knows food – and that he, and the folks that staff each of his restaurants, know how to bring the widest cross-section of diners into the fold. While the concepts may not excite and titillate as they once did in this post-Rose’s Luxury Washington, the Spanish Chef was the first to bet that D.C. could be more than just steakhouses and greasy spoons. With Zaytinya, his Mediterranean and mezze restaurant in Penn Quarter, José Andrés has helped expand palates and minds since 2002. And despite the years behind the concept, there’s still plenty of life in the execution. The Rosé Brunch Experience – their latest offering available each Saturday and Sunday through August 13 – is a fresh, summery twist that pays homage to the wine and drink of the region.