Zakia: Modern and Classic

Zakia: Modern and Classic

Ethnic cuisine at its best in an enchanting space gives diners some new experiences with no room for passé flat pita.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

The indoor (outdoor feeling) conservatory has romantic flowers extending from the ceiling.
The indoor (outdoor feeling) conservatory has romantic flowers extending from the ceiling.

Touted as modern Lebanese cuisine, Zakia has history. Run by chef Ian Winslade, and the brother team of Jonathan and Ryan Akly, who also own Mission+Market, and Tre Vele, Zakia is actually named for the Akly brothers’ grandmother who inspired many of the menu items with old family recipes.

Dishes include hot and cold mezzes, classic, chargrilling, kabobs, fresh seafood, shareable sizes, all expected in Eastern Mediterranean fare. Sporting its own pita oven, Zakia delights guests with expanded, puffed-up pitas that look like they were injected with billows from oven heat. With over 200 seats, the main dining area features an open kitchen and a bar/lounge. Towards the entrance is a row of intimate, round fabric enveloped settings; and an upstairs private room for 10 to 60 is visible.

The beet salad was a table favorite.

Gushing and gasping over the interior design is warranted. We sat on canary/honey gold banquette sofas, secured in elaborate black frames. Other areas had lush teal chairs; and then there’s the indoor/outdoor conservatory with vertical cascades of the palest hues of hanging flowers, not real, but real enough to seal the atmosphere. At the main entrance courtyard is outdoor dining.

An extensive drink menu is sure to raise interest. Arak, a traditional Lebanese licorice flavored liqueur, is made from brandy-infused with anise, served mixed with water and over ice, pairs well with mezze; Massaya, $14 a glass, $150 a bottle; and Razzout, $17 a glass and $170 a bottle are for those seeking adventure.

The branzino was jumping from the sea, ever so lightly seasoned.

The table favorite cocktail was Ruby Jewels with strawberry-infused vodka, Earl Grey, sake, and lemon. Use the imagination for thematic cocktails like Spice Market with Cocchi Americano, Cities of Salt with chili sumac tequila, Meadows of Gold with apple demerara, and One Thousand and One Nights with black walnut bitters and bourbon.

Table favorites mezze were the roasted beet salad with arugula, roasted walnuts, whipped feta, puffed freekeh (an ancient dish of rubbed green durum wheat — nutty and chewy at the same time), and ginger syrup. Pause to admire the feta tinting the beets to a lighter bubble gum pink. The Fattoush salad ($12) was fresh and shareable containing tomato, mint, radish, romaine, and pita chips in sumac vinaigrette and parsley. The spice roasted cauliflower was lapped up most especially because of its sauce of lemon tahini and Za’atar chermoula.

The Fattoush salad was fresh and shareable.

Not quite full, we went for the grilled Norwegian salmon with herb salad ($29), two substantial pieces singed to perfection. As a side entrée, the vegetable skewers went along tenderly. For dessert, not all baklava is created equal. This one, served in the round, celebrated its nutty, flaky sweetness. Our server was calculatedly paced, assessing what was needed and didn’t hover. I mistakenly ordered a rosé which I thought was sparkling, and she replaced it immediately without pointing out my error.

Some enticing lunch menu items: felafel sandwich ($16), vegetable skewers, branzino, and, especially intriguing, Anson Mills grain bowl ($17) with blue barley, farro verde, and fava beans, roasted mushrooms, snap peas, kale, and cashew cream. Crispy Brussels sprouts in date molasses ($9) is a winner.

The Zakia interior shows the upstairs private space and an oval of an Akly relative who passed on family recipes.

Bottom line: Zakia is an exotic jewel in Buckhead’s crown and especially so because of its location in a multi-family property with drive-up ease, old family recipes, and a stunning interior. Zakia is in the Modera Prominence complex on the corner of Piedmont and Lenox roads at 3699 Lenox Road. Parking is accessible on one level below. Tickets are validated if asked. Valet is also available.

The Zakia entrance shares a courtyard with other dining concepts.

Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Dinner is served seven days a week. For more information, call (404) 205-5762.

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