city fare
April 8, 2005

by Lisa Waterman Gray

For many Americans, savoring a meal has gone the way of the dinosaur. But at Zin, 1900 Main St., savoring is a must. That’s why my husband, Mark, and I spent two hours dining without ever checking the time. We had one of the most satisfying restaurant meals ever.

And not only because of the food. Great service and a New York-chic atmosphere only add to the dining experience. Though the lighting could be just a touch brighter for easier reading of the menu.

Zin is also a place to try new things. In fact, there isn’t a single poultry dish on the menu. We ordered two appetizers — confit of rabbit with wild mushroom and leek strudel and cherry jus ($12), and sautéed crawfish cakes with cornmeal crusted okra and smoked paprika chipotle aioli ($10).

The rabbit was moist and tender with a flavor reminiscent of turkey. A one-inch slice of strudel had a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth quality, and the cherry jus was the perfect accompaniment to both without being too sweet. Two loosely constructed crawfish cakes were exceptionally moist and wrapped in a light breading. The sauce added heat that gradually snuck up on the tongue.

Confit of rabbit with wild mushroom and leek strudel and cherry jus.
(photo by Sam Garcia)

Butter poached grouper, crab and gruyere stuffed artichoke, herbed rosti potatoes and Dijon mustard sauce ($28) included a six-inch portion of buttery white fish atop a generous helping of matchstick-cut potatoes and a mildly biting Dijon sauce. Sautéed spinach and caramelized onions topped the fish. The artichoke stuffing resembled a potato fritter in size, and the crawfish cakes in construction, with a mellow cheese and crab flavor.

Mark ordered grilled tenderloin of beef with smoked Yukon gold potatoes, haricot verts (green beans) with garlic chips and molasses barbecue sauce ($28). The intoxicating smoky flavor of the mashed potatoes rivaled our longtime love of garlic mashed potatoes. The green beans arrived crisp and tender, and garlic chips added the perfect kick.

It was the meat that had Mark saying, “Oh, boy. Oh, boy.”

Six slices of incredible fork tender, medium rare beef bathed in a sauce with the consistency and minimal sweetness of all-natural apple sauce. He ate every bite.

On another night my friend, Ellen, thoroughly enjoyed her roasted rack of lamb, truffled white bean puree, Brussels sprouts and oyster mushrooms, thyme scented lamb jus ($29). Seven tender chops and the accompanying jus reminded her of Irish or British fare. The white bean puree provided a smooth and satisfying accompaniment.

I ordered Kansas honey glazed muscovy duck breast with wild rice, sautéed baby turnips and apples, chestnut cream ($25). Six slices of medium rare duck meat fanned across moist, plump wild rice atop an ivory-colored and perfectly salted pool of cream. Al dente, lightly sweetened apple chunks and four tender baby turnips that looked like pearl onions completed the offering.

Ellen had started her meal with baby spinach, toasted hazelnuts, fresh raspberries, shaved red onions, poppy seed vinaigrette ($7) salad. It was a wonderful mélange of flavors with a light, satisfying dressing and a handful of gorgeous raspberries. My beluga lentil soup with alma bacon and roasted garlic crostini ($7) paired a medium brown, smoky and deftly seasoned lentil puree with a decorative garnish of caviar, onion and tomato, and a slender, crunchy and garlicky slice of bread.

The end of our meal was just as satisfying as the beginning.

Ellen ordered dark chocolate molten cake with buttermilk ice cream ($7). A black plate beautifully set off the cake, ice cream and a sprinkling of raspberries. One fork-split of the cake caused an avalanche of smooth, seductive dark chocolate filling that was smoother than pudding and thinner than homemade fudge sauce. Rich, creamy ice cream provided a cool counterpoint.

Walnut caramel sauce and whipped cream accented my order of warm apple cranberry strudel ($7). A soft crust with a hint of crunch paired with plump, juicy cranberries and al dente apples — and minimal sugar. This dessert would be a real knockout with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

During my meal with Mark, he ordered Guinness stout spice cake, hazelnut anglaise and chocolate ice cream ($7), which paired a ginger-laced cake with a pale, slightly nutty sauce and a scoop of homemade ice cream. Candied kumquats garnished the dish and added a shot of pale orange color to the palette.

Chocolate-lover that I am, I ordered the chocolate molten cake. My taste buds were in heaven. Surprisingly, so were Mark’s. After all the food he had already enjoyed, and possessing nowhere near my affinity for chocolate, he also finished my cake.

Like I said before, Zin is a place to try new things and savor your meal.


1900 Main St.



HOURS DINNER ONLY: Sun., 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.;
Tues.-Thur., 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Reservations recommended.

(photo by Sam Garcia)

Ratings: (out of four stars)

FOOD ****

Key: $-under $10 • $$-$10 to $20 • $$$-over $20


fork, knife, spoon


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