Saturday, December 3, 2011


Perhaps it started with Chef Mike Isabella's temporary absence from the kitchen while he appeared on Top Chef, and maybe it was finally sealed with his permanent departure to open his own restaurant (the acclaimed Graffiato). But I have sadly eaten my way through Zaytinya's decline from one of Washington's most beloved restaurants to a legacy serving up mediocre fare. My most recent visit was the most disappointing of all. The menu -- including the new creations of Head Chef Michael Costa -- remains scintillating in concept, but is now poor in execution. With none of the six small plates we ordered being memorable, the Zaytinya of today would have gone straight to my "Unbloggables" list.

Except for one thing. This was the place I discovered Magic Hat #9. I had ordered a Yuengling on tap -- a beer I thought I liked -- while Chris ordered the Magic Hat. Once I had taken a sip of that magic potion, there was no going back to my own beer, which now tasted dull and lifeless. Magic Hat #9 has a sparkle that is irresistable, essence of apricot mingling with hoppiness, a strong hint of fruit without being too girly. And there is a conscious playfulness to this beer that is not limited to the beverage itself:

I can't help but be infatuated!


Chris Svoboda
Diana McNally

Zaytinya on Urbanspoon

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