Restaurant Review: Zaytoon Mediterranean Grill
Before there was a Zaytoon pop-up at Budd Dairy, there was an original Zaytoon Mediterranean Grill. Actually, past tense isn’t the right way to talk about the place. First, because the original Zaytoon made its debut fairly recently in 2020. Second, because that spot is still quite open and going strong in Westpointe Plaza.
Admittedly, it’s become cliche to describe BYO (build your own) restaurants as Chipotle-Style. At the same time, the description is a cliche because it’s universally easy to understand and apt. As Zaytoon’s full name suggests, the game is Mediterranean as opposed to Chipotle’s Tex-Mex. And, as all BYO things go, the outcome is determined by how you build it. If the meal’s no good, well, that’s on you.
Fortunately, it would be a challenge to mismatch things at Zaytoon, the ingredients generally lend themselves to harmonious combos. The options start with a selection of bases: pita ($6.95), basmati rice ($8.95), romaine salad (8.95) or hummus ($9.50). You can also do some mixing and matching here – so rice and romaine together is an option. Then you pick a protein: chicken, beef/lamb (like gyro meat), or falafel, some vegetable condiments like tomatoes, onions, cabbage, and cucumber. Then finally, sauces; the selection includes tahini, garlic sauce, tzatziki and an aromatic olive oil and sumac combo.
So, big ups on the hummus bowl. It’s not for everyone, but it’s good for those who appreciate extremes. The outcome will be kinda slushy, due to the nature of the base, but if you like hummus, there will be enough in the foundation to enhance every single bite of protein (the chunks of chicken work fine) and all the veggie topping. The pillowy, tender house pita is good for scooping, as initial indulgence can turn into to a growing sense of awkwardness while essentially eating a dip straight-up with a fork.
For more moderate palates, the basmati rice or a pita make a fine foundation for a meal. In fact, you can construct a super-deluxe custom gyro, building on a pita with an overflowing supply of beef/lamb, plus veggies and some tzatziki.
The Falafel ($4.99) is worth ordering here. It’s not an afterthought, and can be part of a bowl combo or ordered on its own as a side dish. The fried globes are a sturdy, satisfying blend of traditionally ground chickpeas with a little pizazz from parsley and onions.
In terms of other appetizers, there’s hummus and baba ghanoush, but a Spicy Feta Dip ($5.99) is a less ubiquitous choice that comes across nicely. Blended-in roasted peppers give it a bright orange hue, and heat from jalapeño gives its richness a little extra depth along with garlic and onion accents
The Greek Fries ($5.99) came highly recommended. They’re loaded; beneath some punchy feta and banana peppers with tzatziki, the french fries foundation boasts crunchy edges that give way to their soft potato innards.
Zaytoon Mediterranean Grill can be found at 5450 Westpoint Dr. in Hilliard (or sporting the same menu inside Budd Dairy Food Hall). There’s an option for everyone there, with plenty of gluten-free and veg-friendly combo options. It’s open every day from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
For more information, visit zaytoonrestaurant.com.
All photos by Susan Post