Note: I promised myself that I would write down what I ate last night and some general impressions.
My wife, Julie, and I had been at the mall and decided to stop at the Crush Winebar downtown on Columbus Ave. A seemingly friendly place with a small kitchen, a chef's table, funky art on the walls...and a small plate menu. I started with roasted local beets served with feta. Julie had the baby greens with pecans and strawberry vinagrette. We decided to split an order of bread with a balsamic dipping sauce. I did a small light white wine tasting with the food and Julie had a margarita. That was intended to be the extent of our little indugence since I had braised ox-tails and veal shanks waiting in the oven at home.
The server left the menu. I could resist giving it another look. So I started reading. I have always loved scallops and we both love good beef. I suggested another taste. Julie was all in. We splurged. I ordered the scallops sambuca with apple bacon and julienne veggies (mostly carrots) and Julie ordered the top sirloin with piquillo peppers, medium rare. We each ate from both plates. Delicious. The top sirloin was incredibly tender; the scallops were perfectly cooked; both flavors were spot on.
The owner came over and we started talking about the restaurant that she and her husband have across the street, the Zinc Brasserie. She was explaining why it was named "Zinc" and the meaning of "brasserie"... then she mentioned oysters on the half shell. They were serving blue points. Ugh. We both love them and decided we needed walk across the street before heading back to Fremont.
The brasserie is a bit more formal than the wine bar, but there were a couple empty seats at the bar, which was covered with sheet metal. Neat, comfortable place with high ceilings. Old brick walls if I remember right. The kitchen is again on the smaller side. The line cook never looked up when I accidentally "got lost" and walked into the kitchen. The young lady behind the bar, however, was very attentive and helpful with the wine selection and everything else. They knew which personality to put where.
The oysters were indeed blue points and were served with a mignonette sauce (sherry vinegar and shallots) and lemon wedges. They were fresh and light and wonderful. After tasting their sauce, I didn't touch the tabassco sauce I requested. I had a chardonney, I am pretty sure Julie had another margarita.
But we (read "I") could not stop there. As I further studied the menu I came across the snails, under their more palatable guise. I have never tried them. I had to. They were served with a garlic, basil and butter sauce. I did not ask about the method. My guess is high temp. They had the taste and texture of well-sauted mushrooms. Very savory. Excellent with the bread. Again, flavor rules!
Most people would be satisfied, pay the bill, thank the bartender, and head toward the door. Not us! The couple next to us ordered the king crab mac and cheese for him and the fois gras for her. I have never had fois gras. What kind of self-proclaimed foodie has never had fois gras? And since Julie is a mac and cheese freak who also loves crab legs. And since life is short. And since we never really celebrated our 25th wedding aniversary. And since...well, you get the point..."More Food!" I yelled to the bartender. Of course, she replied "Excellent choice". We both ordered a full-bodied cabs.
I am not a mac and cheese fan, although I could probably be converted. I had a taste. It was good, but only distracted me from the fois gras, which was sauteed and served on a torte with carmelized onions, a balsamic reduction, and with arugala and bitter greens wrapped by a ring of puff pastry. The woman next to me explained that I should have bit of each item with each bite to cut down on the richness of the liver. Now, I am not sure how often I would indulge in this, and have never fully thought through the forced feeding issues, but this was truly an adventure in itself. I think that texture may have outdone the flavor, but the way it just melts on your tongue...
Anyway, enough of this...
Edited by buckeye_hunter - 12/20/10 at 11:28am