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Restaurant Review: Zaytoon
updated: Feb 01, 2014, 12:00 PM

By Lauren Bray

Zaytoon Lebanese Cuisine
209 E Canon Perdido St.
Avg. Entrée Price: $19

The atmosphere at Zaytoon is always comforting, there's a place for everyone. If you're interested in a romantic dinner, you can sit on the deck next to the live music. If you're meeting up with a group of friends, you can sit around the outdoor fire pits and enjoy the ambiance. Or if you just left the SB Bowl and want to keep the party going, you can order hookah and hang out in the lounge area.

Although I love sitting at the fire pit, it's reserved for larger parties on the weekend so we opted for a deck table near the live music. It was Friday night and we were lucky to be listening to Vincent Zorn & Vedant, the gypsy guitar and violin duo. They were a nice touch to a casual evening out. (Side Note: Belly dancers are scheduled on Saturday nights.)

We tried a red wine blend from Lebanon and were pleasantly surprised by the smooth flavor.

I'm not well versed in Middle Eastern food so my labeling and descriptions might be a little off. However, I do know that I like trying different foods and Lebanese cuisine is delicious with options that everyone can enjoy. We were greeted with pita bread and an olive oil, tomato, and spice dip.

For an appetizer we started with Kibbeh, which are hand rolled bulgur wheat balls stuffed with marinated ground beef, onions and an assortment of nuts. It was a unique flavor and the beef was finely ground but I enjoyed the texture. It was a little on the dry side but nothing a scoop of hummus can't fix.

I ordered the chicken shawarma which came with strips of chicken breast marinated and slowly broiled on a vertical rotating grill, served with rice pilaf and fattoush salad. Not mentioned on the menu but pictured is a white yogurt substance which was unnamed. Through my detective Googling I'm pretty sure it's labneh ,which is a strained yogurt similar to sour cream, but much better. It paired nicely with the seasoned and flavorful chicken.

Zaytoon has been around since 2005 and they clearly know what they are doing when it comes to flavor and entertainment. In case you were wondering, Zaytoon is the Lebanese word for olive and Baba Ghannouj is always fun to say out loud.

Lauren is a member of the Dedicated Staff and will be testing out Thai, Indian, and Chinese restaurants next. Baba Ghannouj.


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