Zeytin = Peace, Goodwill and Good Food

Booth
Eclectic décor, good food, and excellent company, what more can one ask for?

Woe to the restaurant that finds me in a bad mood. Fortunately for Zeytin, a Turkish restaurant in Ada, Michigan, I was in fine fettle last Thursday. The food I consume can affect how I feel, but the reverse is also true. If I am in a great mood, everything tastes better.* Happiness is a spice all its own.

My friend, Kay, joined me for a belated birthday lunch celebration.** Kay and I are both enthusiastic ‘foodies’, while not necessarily qualified by training, we are experienced gourmands and picky about our palate and the foods we try. I like to utilize her taste buds because she will eat the meat dishes so I can tell you about them. And, before you cry foul, Kay is okay with this arrangement—the safe word is “Rocky Mountain Oysters”.

Cacik and Pita
Creamy, dilly cacik and friend.

Kay, and I wrestled with the many choices of appetizers. So we ordered enough to feed a small army—or a house with teenagers. Soon plates of borek, spinach pie, and bowls of soup arrived along with a basket of very thin, cold pita and a generous bowl of tzatziki—called Cacik in Turkish. The yogurt dish was the favorite among the four we chose.

Sounds disgusting--tastes delicious.
BOREK–Sounds disgusting, tastes delicious.

The Feta Borek—a deep-fried crispy roll filled with feta cheese—was the Turkish equivalent of a crab Rangoon, minus the crab. We both agreed, this was phenomenal. (Especially dunked in the cacik—everything is better with yogurt sauce on it.)

Next we had the stuffed grape leaves. Here Kay and I parted ways. Kay loved them, believing they were flavored with anise, I had reservations because of the odd and unexpected taste. When asked what the secret ingredient was our waiter admitted this was the one item on the menu that they did not make at the restaurant, but ordered in. My internal food detective went ‘Ah Hah!’ But I said nothing aloud; I like to savor my smugness along with my meal.

Grape Leaves--rotated
The much debated dish leaves diners mystified as to the secret ingredient.
Not as good as hoped--better than making it yourself.
Not as good as hoped–better than making it yourself.

Kay and I both had reservations about the spinach pie. I am a huge fan of spanakopita (the Greek iteration of this dish) so I was a bit disappointed by the approach taken by the Turkish chef. Instead of getting a rolled, triangular packet stuffed with feta and spinach chopped in a good ratio, this came more as a lasagna-style serving—where the phyllo dough had a bottom and a top layer with a huge helping of spinach dotted with feta as a leaden center. This arrangement made the upper layers of phyllo a touch gluey. My research informed me that Phyllo, the thin, layered pastry, which I thought was a strictly Greek invention, actually originated in Istanbul. So, it was likely I ate the more traditional rendition of the dish. That said, I would still prefer my puffed savory to be a little more flaky and the proportions of dough to filling better measured to prevent the steam from collapsing all that delicately structured crust. Still, it tasted pretty good and it would beat most fast food restaurant food hands-down.

There is something entirely decadent about sitting in luxurious comfort sipping sweet tea in delicate glasses, chatting with a good friend. Our booth had colorful, thick cushions with a Turkish rug pattern and pillows at our backs, the music playing was soft and a woman sang with plaintive, if incomprehensible words, as we dined.

You must try this tea!
To live a rich and fulfilled life, you must try this tea!

The only jarring note to the bright, clean establishment is the décor. Looking around we saw what looked like Southwestern paintings which veered very heavily near to something you might see painted on black velvet or found on a Thomas Kinkade Calendar—if he’d ever managed to escape the English village where he’s been held hostage for years churning out lilac-strangled cottages. Twisted iron chandeliers which mimicked the antlers of a many pronged, exotic animal prompted us to ask whether the owners had kept the previous establishment’s theme. The puzzled waiter replied, “No, this is all new with the restaurant.” Okay then. Since I inadvertently painted my basement to look like interior of a submarine, I cast no interior design stones. But be prepared if you go there.

The Lamb Kebabs were so good, Kay tried to snatch a piece of her meal before I could photograph it.
The Lamb Kebabs were so good, Kay tried to snatch a piece of her meal before I could photograph it.

Kay enjoyed her grilled lamb. (Which I would describe to you in detail if my son hadn’t stolen my notebook to create a Jackson Pollock inspired mess on his bedroom floor.) I loved my Turkish Delight—a mélange of veggies swimming in a delicious tomato-based stew on homemade hummus. I was surprised to find uniformly chopped carrots with the telling zigzag that screams ‘frozen veggie’ but, that said, the dish was fantastic.

Turkish Delight--No, not the candy.
Turkish Delight–No, not the candy.

I won’t quibble if they can make frozen food taste that good. We both thought that the presentation of the hors d’oeuvres on rough chopped iceberg lettuce with thin half-moon slices of tomato was underwhelming. My thought was that if they just added a nice, light lemon-olive oil vinaigrette and made it a side of the appetizer then it wouldn’t be such a waste of vegetation.

Friendship is the flavor which makes life worth savoring. I can laugh, joke and chew my meal and it has a gustatory pleasure you cannot recreate no matter how well cooked a dish is when eaten alone. Minor pet peeves aside—frozen veggies and a slightly too heavy emphasis on salt in many of the dishes—I suggest you run right out and dine at this hidden gem. Gustatory treasure hunters will not be disappointed.

****

Image courtesy of cliparts.co (whether they know it or not.)
Image courtesy of cliparts.co (whether they know it or not.)

Zeytin gets three out of four olives. It is a great place to go with friends. The meals are slightly higher in price than your average lunch fare, but then, the food is better. It is intended as a slower dining experience, has tables arranged in either booths, or  two-to-four person settings with the possibility of reorganizing for larger groups. It looks to have a well-stocked bar for those who like a little aperitif with their meal. There are a few ‘American’ food options for kids (cheese burger/chicken nuggets) but adults had best be prepared to dine in Turkish style.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Apparently I am an emotional eater in more than one sense.

**Like we need an excuse to go to a good restaurant.

_____________________

Spinach SoupHidden Soup Bonus:

If given a choice between the Lentil or Spinach Tomato soups, go with the latter.  Unless you hate spinach–because it really does have a Popeye’s powerhouse vegetable flavor.

Bizarre Light Fixture Bonus

Antlers on the Ceiling...Pink Champagne on Ice... We're all just prisoners here... Of an Interior Decorator's Madness
Antlers on the ceiling…Pink champagne on Ice…
We’re all just prisoners here…
Of an interior decorator’s madness!
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6 thoughts on “Zeytin = Peace, Goodwill and Good Food

  1. “Since I inadvertently painted my basement to look like interior of a submarine, I cast no interior design stones.”

    That is the post I want to see. An explanation of that. With accompanying photos.
    Oh. Shoot. I just realized I was inadvertently thinking of the Yellow Submarine. Kinda less interested now, but still interested. Don’t suppose may you could redo in that nice golden yellow first, before posting?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was my first experience trying to pick out paint. (I lie, but the less said about the powder-puff pink Army barracks, the better.) So, I erred on the side of using pictures from a design catalogue. I only used two of the three and in a darker space than photographed in the sample room. It did not look anything like I imagined. The ‘slate blue’ floor looks institutional grey, I am surprised I manage not to cry whenever I walk across it, it is so depressing. The walls aren’t too bad, but the ‘light blue’ could be described as ‘anemic robin’s egg’ white. I’d take pictures, but I am mid-packing and all you would see is the mess vomited across the floor

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hang fish from the ceiling from nylon fishing line. Make a periscope bottom from PVC. A rowboat bottom from cardboard or whatever, for the ceiling. Make pearls from clams! or something like that.
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I suspect it’s bad form to come on to your blog and urge you to take a look at my novel – so I do hope you’ll forgive me. But if you should ever read Singled Out, you’d understand why. Set in Turkey and just a little bit over-indulged with scenes set around delicious Turkish food – it might make your mouth water as much as your blog post did mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have thought about it…but with the purchase of the new home, the hip replacement and the special boy of mine, reading has taken a fourth-place finish in the race for my attention. I did read your reviews and it sounds like you are finding an audience. So, that’s good.

      Liked by 1 person

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