Zaytoon [Albany]

I saw a new Mediterranean restaurant, Zaytoon, on 1133 Solano Ave. yesterday (cross street Kains). It was closed, but someone working inside the restaurant said it will be open today. Any reports?

It seems to be a branch of Zaytoon in San Francisco. I’ll probably swing by tomorrow.

It’s in the old Solano Bar and Grill space. I saw a few people eating lunch there today. The menu looks standard, except for a few “traditional plates” at the bottom. A couple of those looked interesting.

The menu is up now.

The Habibi cocktail looks interesting (bourbon, honey, and tahini). I’ll try to stop by next week for cocktails and nibbles.

I had lunch there today, a beef and lamb wrap. It was just ok, kind of dry and flavorless. The place is airy and bright decor, the service a little slow. I’ll have to return to see how they do on kebabs, which are probably prepared individually instead of being sliced off the spit, but so far I prefer the wraps at Kobani, which is now Rojbas.

I had dinner at Zaytoon last week. Overall, the food was good and service was fine. The bar is beautiful - next time, we may sit there instead because it was more lively.

For starters, we had the hummus platter and the kubba (minced lamb and beef fritters with pine nuts). The kubba was moist, light, and crispy - it had the texture of the best falafels - and it went well with the yogurt dipping sauce. The hummus platter wasn’t what we expected. We thought there was supposed to be a topping over it, like sautéed lamb, but instead what came out was a rather plain looking hummus plate with one cherry tomato cut in half an, two wedges of cucumber, and a swirl of olive oil as garnish. It was served with warm pitas. It tasted like the lamb was blended into it - there was definitely a lamb taste to the hummus although it was smooth. In retrospect, we should have asked about that dish because we’re not sure we got what we ordered. The description was “a bed of hummus, choice of sautéed lamb, marinated chicken shawarma, or sautéed mushroom and herbs.”

My main was maklouba, a layered rice dish slow cooked with lamb, carrots, cauliflower, and eggplant. We should have ordered this to share because the portion size is large. Rice was well seasoned and the chunks of lamb shank were falling apart. To nitpick, I would have rather had the lamb shank served on the bone since it gives the rice more flavor, but I don’t think most diners feel the same way.

My husband had the chicken and lamb kebabs. A couple of the lamb chunks were gristly, but the flavor was good. Chicken kebabs were moist - I’d order them again.

I ordered the cocktail with tahini, rye, honey, amaretto, and allspice dram, the Habibi. I was a little hesitant to order it because allspice dram can easily overpower a drink, but I was curious because of the tahini. All I could taste was the rye and the allspice dram. I’ll order something else next time!

I’ll be back, but I’ll give them a month or two to work out some kinks.

Both Kurdish joints. Any idea what the differences are?

I don’t understand the question–is Zaytoon Kurdish? I was saying that Kobani changed its name to Rojbas.

I meant both Kobani and Rojbas say they are Kurdish. Are there other changes besides the name?

It’s all more or less the same–same (excellent) menu, some decor changes. I’m curious about why they changed the name. Kobani is the city that ISIS leveled a couple of years ago, so maybe they wanted to move away from the association.