My parents were married thirty years ago Monday. As a child, I’m pretty sure I took for granted the fact that Mom and Dad were always there, in solidarity. Now, in an adult relationship of my own, I can truly appreciate and admire their milestone.
To celebrate, my family assembled at ZINC last Saturday. ZINC is one of those restaurants that seems tailor made for occasions. High ceilings, ample natural light, posh azure accents – it’s a room that invites glasses to be clinked and raised.
The restaurant was busy that night – perhaps a confluence of Downtown Dining Week and that evening’s Refinery party – so in some ways, it was fortunate that our reservation was slated just before the rush, as all of our dishes were well-paced.
The amuse bouche was a darling profiterole featuring chicken riette and cumberland sauce. Here, I particularly liked the microgreen garnish, a burst of freshness to balance the salt-forward bite.
Mack and my sisters ordered starters. Last November, Mack and I had attended a preview dinner at ZINC, where we were invited to try dishes from Chef David Omar’s new menu (a concept that allows diners to choose small or large plates of the same dishes). Mack’s favourite “bite” from that night was the seared scallop ($6), which of course he wanted to have again. It was perfectly cooked, and just the right size to relieve his craving.
Scallop (Mack wishes this was actual size)
My sisters shared the panzanella ($10) with bread, tomatoes, asparagus, prosciutto, lemon garlic preserve and a balsamic reduction. They fought over the last piece of prosciutto.
For entrees, our party size allowed us to try nearly every main on the menu, and just about all of them were well-received.
My Dad cleaned off his herb panko dusted rack of lamb ($41) – literally – there wasn’t a shred of meat to be found on his plate. Served with a couscous and anchovie tapenade, baked apple and pear chutney and eggplant ratatouille involtini – nothing else was left either (it’s of the highest praise, really. It’s tough to impress my Dad).
Amanda liked her plate of alpaca and house-made pasta noodles ($26), ZINC’s version of spaghetti and meatballs. The meatballs were moist (thankfully, as we had found them to be rather dry in my previous encounter).
Mack’s Spring Creek Ranch beef tenderloin ($42) was cooked to a tasty medium rare, though he remarked that he wasn’t asked about specifications upon ordering. It was served with a potato and watercress mash, caramelized onions and baby carrots.
My pan-seared line caught pickerel ($34) was delicious, coated with a light, dreamy potato foam. The bed of vegetables was as colourful as it was a textural contrast to the flaky fish, consisting of beets, edemame beans and pickled mushrooms.
The only dish that didn’t enthral was the duck ($32). While well-cooked, with crispy layers of skin atop the tender meat, it was much too salty. My Mom and Felicia did enjoy the accompanying pumpkin and potato purée though.
Sometimes, the small, seemingly insignificant things about a restaurant help to elevate a meal. One example at ZINC was the brioche bread. It was warmed through, sweet and slightly toasted, and easily lapped up the tomato compote butter it was served with. We asked for seconds!
No pictures of the bread, unfortunately
That said, personal gestures are also a welcome addition to the dining experience. When I made the reservation, I was asked if it was a special occasion. At the end of our meal, Chef Omar came to greet our table, and brought with him two miniature ice cream trees and a great story about how this became the signature special dessert.
Chef Omar and my parents
The trees each held five different house-made ice creams and sorbets – the favourites around the table were the avocado ice cream and the lemon sorbet.
The ice cream tree!
The service was attentive throughout our stay (nary a wine or water glass was left unfilled), and we felt very well taken care of. And between the good food and personal gestures, ZINC really was a great place to celebrate. Congratulations, Mom and Dad: here’s to thirty more years!
ZINC (inside the Art Gallery of Alberta)
2 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Lunch: Tuesday-Saturday 11am-2:30pm; Dinner: Tuesday-Wednesday 5-9pm, Thursday-Saturday 5-10pm; Brunch: Sunday 11am-2pm; closed Mondays