Omnivore - Zaya opens

What is it (top photo)? An exploded paper bag? The cocoon of a pod person? No, it's a Lebanese dessert called ashta that features a light custard wrapped in filo. It's all about a creamy texture meeting a crunchy one and giving you a highly floral whiff of oranges.

The dessert is on the menu at Zaya Mediterranean Cuisine (240 N. Highland Ave., 404-477-0050), the latest restaurant to open in the rapidly growing area of North Highland Avenue near its intersection with Elizabeth Street.

Our meal, mainly small plates, was a mixed success. The “drunken Halloumi,” a Cypriot cheese seared in olive oil, flambéed with ouzo and served over tomato slices (above), arrived at the table nicely charred but with the consistency of taffy. The tomatoes were unpleasantly mealy.

We fared better with other dishes. I'll have a first look at Zaya in Grazing next week.

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