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molto e

Zinc Bistro (Scottsdale)

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Zinc Bistro

Kierland Commons

15034 N. Scottsdale Road, Phoenix

(480) 603-0922

When I am in the mood for bistro cooking, Zinc Bistro is where I go. Whether it is lunch or dinner, this is where to go to get steak frites, mussels mariniere, frisee salad or any of those other classic comfort dishes. Zinc Bistro won "Best French Restaurant" in 2005 awarded by the Arizona Republic's Howard Seftel.

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There is a lunch and dinner menu, but both of them are terrific.

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This is the lunch menu and the flat iron steak frites is always available as a special.

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House Pate: Duck and Chicken and Brandy with duck gelee, sauce gribiche and pumpernickel

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Gruyere Fondue-smokey slow roasted tomatoes, prosciutto crackers

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Grilled Filet Steak Sandwich, Sweet Arugula Puree with cipollini onion rings and anchovie garlic romesco rubbed baguette

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Warm Chicken Salad Veronique Grapes and Brioche with marcona almonds, beurre noisette, banyuls vinegar and dill

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Oysters

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Zinc House Salad, Cabernet Vinaigrette- organic hand cut greens, warm goat cheese crouton

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Zinc Burger ordered walking rare by my Dad, Bacon and Blue Cheese melt- vine ripened tomatoes and Lemon and Garlic Arugula

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Frisee, Savoy Spinach, Warm Poached Bacon- dill, lardons, sherry bacon vinaigrette

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The dinner menu- a nice way to get a taste of Zinc is the "Dinner For Two" option with choice of onion soup or Zinc House Salad, choice of two side dishes with the main course of either Lavender Honey Caramelized Rack Of Lamb or Chateaubriand with a souffle for dessert.

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Small Tray- 1/2 lobster, 8 oysters, 4 shrimp, 4 clams, 6 mussels

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Zinc is trying out some new dipping sauces: tomato horseradish, sour cream-bacon and I do not remember the green one

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Roasted Pork Belly, Harissa and Date Aigre Doux- dill, chickpea and roquefort pancake

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Crispy Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin- cararmelized cabbage and a four spice honey glaze

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Ravioli Du Zinc, Black Truffle, Oxtail- spinach, goat cheese, madeira mushroom

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Bordelaise Short Ribs, Bone Marrow Flan- morel ficassee, parsley and mirepoix

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"Mac and Cheese"

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Tenessee Grits, Bacon and Mascarpone- don't let the grits throw you, these were really good

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Crispy Guinea Hen Leg- prune aigre doux

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Chocolate, Banana and Hazelnut Tart- banana marshmallow and hazelnut sabayon

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Warm Grape and Brillat Savarin Cheese Tart

Good Eating,

Molto E

Phoenix Best Bets:

Binkley's Restaurant

Binkley's Restaurant awarded "Best Restaurant" in Phoenix

Sea Saw Restaurant

Sea Saw awarded "Best Japanese Restaurant" in Phoenix

Cyclo Restaurant

Cyclo Restaurant awarded "Best Vietnamese Restaurant" in Phoenix

Lo-Lo's Fried Chicken and Waffles

Lo-Lo's Fried Chicken and Waffles

Kohnie's

Kohnie's Coffee Shop

Camelback Farmers Market

Camelback Farmers Market


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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I agree with the review MoltoE. In particular, the braised short ribs, filet mignon w/ foie gras, and the spinach salad with egg are all amazing! Superb service and sitting at the bar is also a fabulous experience. I found the pommes frites a bit lacking, and (I can't believe I'm saying this) a little too salty.

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When I am in the Kierland area around dinner time, it is very hard to pass up Zinc Bistro.

Appetizers:

The classic bistro frisee salad is never a disappointment.

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California Squab and Foie Gras:

cipollini honey glaze, soft mascarpone polenta

The squab was cooked to perfection and it had a great blend of sweet and savory flavors. The piece of Foie could be a little bigger, but when don't I want a little more Foie Gras,

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Entrees:

I do not think that I will ever tire of steak frites and Zinc nails this dish.

Prime Flat Iron, Shallot and Brandy Au Poivre

served medium rare, choice of matchstick or pommes frites

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Duck "Cassoulet", Foie Gras Sausage, Crispy Leg

sliced breast, pistachio cauliflower

Very nice dish, duck was cooked nicely and this was a cool spin on the dish.

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Side of Zinc Potatoes

Who does not like potatoes au gratin

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Dessert:

Chocolate torte with raspberry sauce and black cherry ice cream

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Good Eating,

Molto E


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Zinc Bistro—From Classic to Moderne

The best chef in Phoenix is … ahhh … truly a tough question. The Phoenix area has (i) four chefs who have won the James Beard Foundation’s award for “Best Chef” of the Southwest, (ii) one chef who won “Iron Chef America,” (iii) five chefs who have won Food and Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chef” award, and (iv) a couple other chefs for whom I would gladly walk over hot coals in order to get a dinner reservation at their restaurants.

Given the difficulty in answering the best chef question, I thought who better to ask than award-winning Chef Christopher Gross of Christopher’s Fermier Brasserie. When I asked Christopher who he deemed to be the best chef in Phoenix, he replied, “Matt Carter of Zinc Bistro is the best chef in town. He has a great palate—not a lot of chefs do, some are more technicians—and he is not caught up in the BS of it all. He is an animal behind the line; to be able to produce that kind of quality at the volume that he does takes talent.”

So off I went to Zinc Bistro to talk with Chef Matt Carter. Carter told me he was born and bred in Phoenix. His father Mike, an ASU graduate, owns Carter’s Men’s Clothing on 44th Street in Phoenix. Carter graduated from Arcadia High School and then attended Scottsdale Culinary Institute. Soon after graduating from SCI, he landed a job at a little bistro named La Chaumiere. While he always had an affinity for France, inherited from his mother, the opportunity to work at the bistro caused everything to fall into place. After a short stint at La Chaumiere, Carter left Scottsdale and headed to Paris for a year to further refine his skills. Upon his return to Phoenix, he was hired by Chef Gross and his culinary career took off.

Carter says, “I can’t explain when or where it happened … I was into food, loved food, I cooked, I worked hard, at some point 6 or 9 months into it, food just made sense. Where before it didn’t, I always thought it did but I did not understand the big picture of cooking. It wasn’t like a bolt of lightning, it was something simple. We did a Beard dinner at Christopher’s that Charlie Trotter, Drew Nierpont, Norman Van Aiken, Robin Haas, Chuck Wiley and a couple of wine makers attended. Working that party and hanging out with the chefs afterwards … smoking cigars and drinking port … it made me realize that this is what I want to do, this is what it is about. It was not just cooking as much as it was taking care of people and the camaraderie in the business and how many new things there were going on out there.”

Carter became chef de cuisine at Christopher’s. He then seized a rare opportunity and went to Napa, California, to work at the French Laundry for Chef Thomas Keller. After his time at the French Laundry he returned to Phoenix as executive chef for Michael’s at the Citadel and while working there he met Terry Ellisor who would later become his partner in Zinc Bistro.

Zinc opened in January 2002 when the Kierland Shopping Center was not remotely close to resembling the robust center it is today. At that point, the shops were not yet open and the only restaurants that were open were Morton’s, P.F. Chang’s and Zinc.

Carter notes that “there were a couple of people who said that we were too far north and everyone is down in Phoenix … nothing was going to happen up here. Not only did we start off with very simple bistro classic stuff, also the verbiage on the menu was kind of like ‘don’t use French words’ because they scare people away. It was a really timid start, which is not really my background, but that is just what made sense. My whole goal was to slowly integrate complicated classic dishes with some of the simple classics that we started out with. We love the style, the look, the feeling of a French Bistro, but the menu has completely evolved from that and taken on a life of its own.”

For me Zinc’s bistro classics are the ultimate comfort food. They’re the dishes I could eat every day. Just the sight and smell of these creations elevate my mood. Some of the classic dishes from Zinc’s opening day are still on the menu such as the prime flat iron steak with shallot and brandy au poivre with the best pommes frites (French fries) in town. This dish gets better each and every time I eat it.

After a hard day the only thing that can right my ship is another bistro classic, a bowl of onion soup served with the Gruyere cheese all bubbling and crusted atop a crouton floating on a rich broth. Or maybe a steaming bowl of mussels and their intoxicating aromas of garlic, wine and herbs will do. I can never get enough of the frisee and spinach salad with its sherry bacon vinaigrette. The salad is adorned with a poached egg that lends its golden yolk to put this dish over the top.

I am not alone in my reverence of bistro classics and Zinc Bistro because for most of the year Matt Carter and Sous-Chef Jeremy McMillan serve 700 to 1,000 diners a day! Matt never envisioned doing these kind of numbers at Zinc. They projected that if they could serve 150 lunches and maybe a 100 dinners a day they would be happy. The first Christmas season after opening, it became clear that the restaurant would far surpass their expectations. They initially thought it was simply a strong Christmas season or a fluke and that come February the restaurant would quiet down. But to their surprise, the diners kept coming in droves.

But you do yourself a disservice if you stick with the tried and true simple bistro classics portions of the menu. The next time you go to Zinc Bistro try Carter’s newer, more complex creations.

For example, on a recent lunch menu the tapenade-seared ahi tuna salad on socca cake with fingerling potatoes, espelette remoulade, picholine and nicoise olives and extra virgin olive oil was a dream. The tuna was enhanced by the tapenade crust and a tangy fingerling potato salad and perched on a socca cake base (made with chickpea flour).

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tapenade-seared ahi tuna salad on socca cake with fingerling potatoes, espelette remoulade, picholine and nicoise olives and extra virgin olive oil

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Grilled prawn and melon salad, mint crackle pepper and lime

The grilled halibut chowder was a beautiful dish that is Matt’s riff on New England clam chowder. A perfectly grilled piece of halibut rested on little pieces of Spanish chorizo, celery, corn and clams with an artichoke barigoule. The halibut is very well complemented by this fusion of Basque and Provencal flavors.

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Halibut "chowder"

If you are in that sandwich kind of mood, the choice is difficult. The Zinc burger is known as one of the best in town, but I would steer you towards the crispy duck confit sandwich, the open-face prosciutto-celery and Fontina melt or the crispy confit Berkshire pork on grilled rustic bread. On my last trip to Zinc, I devoured the crispy confit of Berkshire pork with four spiced apple puree, pickled shallot and truffle aioli with a heap of the house fries. This unctuous medley of ingredients was pure harmony in the mouth. From the apple puree to the pickled shallot dancing in truffle aioli, it made a sumptuous lunch.

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Fontina, Proscuitto melt, shaved celery and piquillo aioli

sherried white bean salad, frisse and piquillo pepper

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crispy confit Berkshire pork on grilled rustic bread

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gratin of Crottin de Chavignol (Goat, Loire Valley, France) prune aigre doux, vanilla and black truffle honey, grilled rye and picked thyme

The dinner menu at Zinc Bistro stretches even more of the bistro classics. At a recent dinner I started with the crispy mustard-crusted skate wing with heirloom tomatoes, purslane with a barigoule vinaigrette and crispy shallots. Skate is actually a classic dish in a bistro, but a recent addition to the menu.

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crispy mustard-crusted skate wing with heirloom tomatoes, purslane with a barigoule vinaigrette and crispy shallots

An appetizer that must not be missed is the squab and foie gras featuring seared squab breast, confit leg and thigh, seared foie gras with honey braised cipollini, crispy leeks, and Tennessee grits. The flavors on this plate meshed together so well and the grits were some of the dreamiest I have ever tasted.

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squab and foie gras featuring seared squab breast, confit leg and thigh, seared foie gras with honey braised cipollini, crispy leeks, and Tennessee grits

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Alaskan king crab, milk poached bacon and romaine "packets", butter poached king crab

Entrees include the rosemary roast Jidori chicken with a crispy leg confit on a bed of bucatini pasta, with confit duck gizzards, cocks combs, sweet corn and a sherry reduction with marjoram. The Jidori chicken is a cage-free, natural grain fed chicken that is a chef favorite. The chicken was roasted to perfection with golden, crispy skin and juicy meat.

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rosemary roast Jidori chicken with a crispy leg confit on a bed of bucatini pasta, with confit duck gizzards, cocks combs, sweet corn and a sherry reduction with marjoram

Matt spins the classic cassoulet into the Zinc duck cassoulet. It features a La Belle duck breast laying on a bed of cauliflower and pistachio puree with a crock of housemade foie gras sausage with white beans and charred tomato ragout accompanied by a crispy leg confit, espelette pepper and banyuls gastrique. This dish was out of this world and I had a hard time deciding which part of the plate to attack first. I kept coming back to the foie gras sausage and white bean ragout.

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Zinc duck cassoulet

The heritage Berkshire country rib with organic turnips and carrots, apple and bacon lardons with a juniper marshmallow side was everything that comfort food should be. The country rib is from the shoulder, which is the most marbled end of the loin. The pork is served with a sherry and juniper demi-glace, and the juniper marshmallow dip is offered to add texture and sweetness to the dish.

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heritage Berkshire country rib with organic turnips and carrots, apple and bacon lardons

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juniper marshmallow side

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Grilled thyme marinated Swordfish - Broccoli and Vermont Cheddar fondue, corn panisse, jus de viande, creamed Smithfield ham

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wild sturgeon, foie gras and lobster mousseline, braised arugula, golden chanterelle and coffee with port

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Onglet a la Bordelaise - grilled hanger steak, fingerling potatoes bound with

bone marrow butter, red wine reduction, shallots and parsley

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mustard braised shortrib and bacon smoked onion soubise, house pickle relish, whipped housemade peanut butter

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cheese plate featuring Pierre Robert, AOC Bleu d'Avergne, Raw Milk Queso

Mahon

As for dessert, how can you pass up a classic chocolate soufflé? I can’t and I didn’t. But if you order more than one dessert, the pistachio cheesecake that is resting in a chocolate cup with peanut butter and candied pistachio is reminiscent of a Reese’s peanut butter cup on steroids.

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chocolate soufflé

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Valrhona chocolate torte, banana ice cream and brulee, with Piment d'Espelette

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pistachio cheesecake, chocolate and candied pistachio with peanut butter

From bistro classics to much more complex fare, Matt Carter is indeed a chef to watch. I look forward to experiencing the continuing evolution of Carter and Zinc Bistro.

(article from Edible Phoenix)

Phoenix Best Bets:

Vu at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale

Sea Saw

Binkley's Restaurant

Zinc Bistro

Cyclo

Lo-Lo's Fried Chicken and Waffles

Kohnies-Coffee, Breakfast and Best Scones

Pizzeria Bianco

Pane Bianco - Chris Bianco's sandwich shop

Matt's Big Breakfast

Arlecchino Gelateria

The Pork Shop

Grazie Pizzeria


Edited by molto e (log)

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Oh man, I've been dying to check this place out for a while. Now I have even more reason for doing so! That squab and foie app. has me drooling!

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Wow, what a great report, molto e. I have friend in Phoenix that I need to visit soon---Zinc and Pizza Bianca are definately on my to do list so far.


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Stopped by for some bistro fare on Christmas Eve and Chef Matt Carter and Sous-Chef Jeremy McMillan were in the kitchen and offering a Christmas Tasting Menu:

King Crab, Black Winter Truffle Capellini

black truffle capellini was out of this world

Hazelnut Crusted Sweetbreads, Meyer Lemon Supremes, Jus De Vien and Cavalo Nero

the crunchy sweetbreads with a swoosh thru the Jus De Vien was a winner

Lamb Ragout, Anise, Pepper Puree and Black Olive Oil

Crispy Suckling Pig, Tepary Bean, Mole Gastrique

well prepared and tasty

Peppermint Chocolate Pot De Creme, Egg Nog Foam, Butter Cookies

The cost for the tasting was $55 which was a bargin in my book


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Stopped by for some bistro fare on Christmas Eve and Chef Matt Carter and Sous-Chef Jeremy McMillan were in the kitchen and offering a Christmas Tasting Menu:

King Crab, Black Winter Truffle Capellini

black truffle capellini was out of this world

Hazelnut Crusted Sweetbreads, Meyer Lemon Supremes, Jus De Vien and Cavalo Nero

the crunchy sweetbreads with a swoosh thru the Jus De Vien was a winner

Lamb Ragout, Anise, Pepper Puree and Black Olive Oil

Crispy Suckling Pig, Tepary Bean, Mole Gastrique

well prepared and tasty

Peppermint Chocolate Pot De Creme, Egg Nog Foam, Butter Cookies

The cost for the tasting was $55 which was a bargin in my book

That would be a bargain in almost anyone's book. based on your report above with outstandintg photos and commentary I would tend to agree that ZB is a place to watch. I would hope to experience it for myself one of these days.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Is Bistro Zinc in Monte Lago Village at Lake Las Vegas a version of Zinc Bistro?

Da Captain


Captain Hongo

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Is Bistro Zinc in Monte Lago Village at Lake Las Vegas a version of Zinc Bistro?

Da Captain

Captain,

No, just a similar name. The Vegas restaurant is Chef Joseph Keller's (brother of TK) joint.

Bistro Zinc Website

Molto E


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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I strolled into Zinc the other day for lunch with the intention of dining on some classic bistro fare. Sous-Chef Jeremy McMillan asked my group if we would like him to do a tasting menu and we jumped at the offer. The menu was his creation and definitely shows that a diner can get more than just the classic bistro fare when dining at Zinc.

I regret not bringing my camera as all the platings were tight and inspired.

Grilled Langoustine, Osetra Caviar Creme Fraiche, Tomato Consomme, Black Sesame and Tasmanian Pepperberries

The langoustine was presented in a shallow bowl nested against the Osetra caviar creme fraiche then a little tomato water ( consomme ) was poured into the bowl. The langoustine was perfectly complemented by the salty caviar, unctuous creme fraiche and the sweetness of the tomato water.

Chicken Thigh, Pommes Aligot - Colorouge Gratin, Artichoke, Olive and Marjoram

The succulent chicken thigh came with a dish of heavenly pommes aligot. This was outstanding and I would order this again in a heartbeat.

Veal Cheek, Tamarind Barbecue, Brussel Sprout "Slaw"; Corn and Sweetbread Beignet, Pink Pepper, Red Onion and Lime Gastrique

When this course came out, I could not help but to appreciate the creativity of Sous-Chef Jeremy McMillan. This was his riff on a pulled pork sandwich, the tamarind BBQ sauce was delicious. I expected the veal cheek to be a little more gelatinous because it seemed more like a different cut of veal. The sandwich was on a great brioche bun, while it was presented the top of the bun was placed on the side so it was up to the diner whether the sandwich would be enjoyed open-faced or not. I thought the idea of the sweetbread beignet was great!

Brillat Savarin a la Louche, White Truffle Honey, Picked Thyme and Cracked Pepper

Very nice cheese at the perfect temperature and the nuance of the truffle honey made a nice addition

Ricotta Beignets, Peanut Butter, Strawberry, and Whipped Cream

Hot beignets with house made peanut butter, stawberry condiment and whipped cream...delicious!

If you would like to experience a tasting at Zinc call ahead and ask for Chef McMillan so he can put something together for your meal.


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Ronnie S. and the Fam made it out to scout their beloved Cubs during Spring Training and our first dinner together at one of my Phoenix favorites was at Zinc. Spring weather in Phoenix is perfect for dining al fresco and where better than the courtyard at Zinc. This ended up being truly one of my ATF meals at Zinc and Sous-Chef Jeremy McMillan surprised us with a course that was out of this world. Jeremy will be moving to Napa at the end of the month to futher his development as a Chef. He will be greatly missed at Zinc as he has been a stalwart member of Chef Matt Carter's crew for the last 5 years. Chef Carter will keep his crew humming as he has developed many stars while they have worked for him at Zinc.

Our meal...While we were ordering appetizers, RS jr. made his presence felt as a budding epicure by requesting the squab as long as it came with the foie gras.

Appetizers

Crispy Skate, Bacon Soffrito, Cider Apple Gastrique

padron pepper, turnips, Beurre Noisette

Skate is a traditional bistro dish but at Zinc, it receives Chef Matt Carter's spin. The skate was tender with a crispy exterior and the bacon soffrito with the slight spice from the pepper was phenomenal.

Seared Dry Packed Scallops

spanish chorizo, roast corn, arroz calasparra

This has become a go-to dish for me at Zinc...the chorizo, corn, manchego, rice combo is so darn tasty...and the scallops are always perfectly seared on the outside and med-rare on the inside.

California Squab and Foie Gras

cipollini onion honey glaze, tennessee grits

the honey glazed cipollini onions are like candy...nice piece of foie gras pairing with the squab...I actually ordered a side of the Tennesse grits because I forgot that they came with this dish. These grits are so creamy blended with mascarpone and bacon making them like a creamy risotto.

Sally, our server, told us not to order any pork as an entree because Chef McMillan has something coming. We placed our entree orders and then Chef McMillan presented a glistening rack of Bershire pork to the table. I am surprised that the rack made it back to the kitchen because RS and I looked at it like wolves.

Berkshire Pork Three Ways

Roasted Loin, Morel, Bacon and Foie Gras Emulsion

Grilled Rib, Juniper Marshmallow

Charred Fatcap, Brandy and Apple Syrup

Wow...where to start...the pork came plated on a long rectangle with the rib on one side and a juniper marshmallow sauce to dip into - the rib did not need to be dipped into the sauce, but it was interesting nonetheless...in the middle was the charred fatcap which was one of the most glorious pieces of swine that has ever gone down the hatch, after eating mine I thought about trying to nab RS jr.'s but RS and his fork were closer than I was...on the other side of the plate was the roasted loin, which was lean but the unctuous foie gras emulsion with morels and bacon made me want to lick the plate...GREAT DISH

Entrees

Chicken Thighs

bucatini, corn, and sherry

This has become another go-to dish for me at Zinc...the thighs are cooked sous-vide and then the skin is crisped making the meat juicy and the skin crispy...nice

Smoked Onglet a la Bordelaise

La Ratte Potatoes - Bound in Bone Marrow Cream

Red Wine Reduction and Crispy Shallot with Parsley

La Ratte potatoes in bone marrow cream, that works for me...the smoked edge to the hanger steak is a welcome spin

Prime Flat Iron Steak, Shallots, Brandy Au Poivre

served medium rare, choice of matchstick or pommes frites

There was time this was the dish that I ordered everytime I went to Zinc. Classic bistro dish...perfect execution...one change that I make is the frites come with a paprika spice mix (I think) and I get the frites with just salt...the frites are a favorite among all Zinc diners

Desserts

Chocolate Souffle (which takes 20 minutes so order in advance), pistachio cheesecake, chocolate and candied pistachio with peanut butter (a favorite) and beignets

all the desserts were well executed and tasty

Zinc Bistro has a convivial vibe that radiates from Owner Terry Ellisor, and Chef Matt Carter. If you are seated at the bar, it is very likely that Terry will be pouring tastes of a new wine that he has just added to the menu or a taste of something that he is enamored with. When the Scottsdale Culinary Festival was going on, one night after an event the restaurant was filled with a virtual who's who of the culinary world at this point Chef Matt Carter just started sending out canapes for anyone in the bar to nosh on. This is what Zinc Bistro is about and why it is one of the most successful restaurants in the Phoenix area.

Phoenix Best Bets:

Sea Saw

Binkley's Restaurant

Zinc Bistro

Cyclo

Lo-Lo's Fried Chicken and Waffles

Kohnies-Coffee, Breakfast and Best Scones

Pizzeria Bianco

Pane Bianco - Chris Bianco's sandwich shop

Matt's Big Breakfast

Arlecchino Gelateria

The Pork Shop

Andreoli - Scottsdale, Italian Deli & Grocery


Edited by molto e (log)

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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For a brief moment I thought that I might actually get that chance to cook a Phoenix meal at my friend's house but due to various cirucmstances, the window closed as quickly as it opened on that opportunity. No worries. We'd hedged by holding onto our reservation at Zinc Bistro in Scottsdale and its time had come. After a short drive and a few 'lost in the gigantic stripmall' moments, we stumbled into Zinc just before the appointed time.

It was 8 pm on a Monday evening, so the crowd in the attractive and dimly-lighted space was sparse. We sat at a table in an outdoor area that was essentially a patio within the restaurant's confines.

The fare at Zinc begins at a point that is typically bistro but branches out immediately, uniquely and thoughtfully from there. On this night, we were in the capable hands of sous chef Jeremy McMillan, who was really on his game. We started with a few tasty appetizers which had us instantly swooning. The ample La Belle Farms Squab and Foie Gras could have been an entree at many restaurants. Here, this reliable combination was served with cippoline onions, a honey glaze and soft mascarpone polenta, which complemented the squab and the foie very well. We also loved the crispy skate appetizer, which was served with bacon sofrito, cider-apple gastrique, padron pepper, turnips and beurre noisette. The skate was tender and fresh and wonderfully crispy on the outside. The richly-flavored accoutrement worked very well with the relatively neutral skate. And it was refreshing having skate at a bistro that was not prepared in the typical, Grenobloise-style.

As great as the first 2 appetizers were, the best one we tasted was the next one, which consisted of seared scallops atop roasted corn and 'arroz calasparra,' which had also been spiked with Spanish chorizo. This was so delicious, we were clanking forks over it.

Our server informed us that we should not order any pork items from the menu because chef McMillan would be sending a special pork course to the table for us. A few moments later, a gloriously-prepared haunch of meat -- a perfectly-roasted, bone-in Berkshire pork loin was presented tableside and quickly whisked away, back to the kitchen. A few moments later we were each served a plate containing an amazing trio of fabulous Berkshire pork prepartions. The first was a large segment of the aforementioned loin, served with morels, bacon and a foie gras emulsion. Next to it, in the center of of the plate, was an incredibly juicy section of charred Berkshire pork fat-cap which was served with a brandy and apple syrup. On the left was a succulent grilled rib, served with a sweet and savory juniper marshmallow. Everything on this plate was absolutely delicious. I loved the loin and the rib but the fat cap was, needless to say, especially succulent.

Entree-wise, we went mostly with steaks. The Prime Flat Iron steak au poivre with crispy shallot and brandy reduction was terrific and cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was served with pomme frites that blew away the frites at Bouchon, which I described upthread. I didn't love the unique seasoning blend that was sprinkled on them but they were made from fresh potatoes, cooked perfectly and served piping hot. We shared a second order of frites, which only had salt and pepper on them, and I enjoyed those much more. Another fantastic side was the Tennessee grits with bacon and mascarpone. Forget everything you know about typical grits -- these were transcendant.

For her entree, my wife had the roasted chicken thighs with bucatini, corn and sherry. I love when dark meat is the default setting and these thighs did not disappoint. They were tender and juicy and their skin was delectably crispy. The buccatini and corn went very well with those terrific thighs.

2 of us ordered the Hanger steak which was lightly smoked, then grilled and served with bordelaise sauce, la ratte potatoes -- bound in bone marrow cream -- red wine reduction and crispy shallots. I loved the smokey note of this juicy, well-prepared steak. Hanger is one of my favorites and this was an excellent rendition. The potatoes were insane -- you could actually taste the marrow in them!

We sampled a slew of delicious desserts which included an excellent chocolate souffle -- made with Callebaut chocolate and doused in chocolate sauce -- and a tiny and quite elegant pistachio cheesecake with chocolate which was accompanied by candied pistachios and peanut butter. The freshly-made beignets were also phenomenal. Speaking of desserts, here's a pic from this meal, taken by my pal molto e, that really moves me . . .

gallery_30892_2279_581248.jpg

Pistachio cheesecake on chocolate base with candied pistachios and peanut butter

I loved the food at Zinc and -- even more so -- the personal touches which distinguished our meal from beginning to end. The touches were not indulgent manipulations, which are all too common these days. They were thoughtful variations on what one might typically encounter at a bistro and they were born in experience. These individuations made once completely-familiar dishes much better than they normally are. This is still bistro cuisine but it's evolved bistro cuisine. If Zinc Bistro were in Chicago, I'd be all over it. I'd love to experience this food on a regular basis.

=R=

Zinc Bistro

Kierland Commons

15034 N. Scottsdale Road

Scottsdale, AZ 85281

480 603-0922


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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We stopped in for a quick lunch on the way to the airport last week and wish we had gone for dinner as well. The food is tasty and beautifully presented.

I had the Duck Confit Sandwich which was good, if a touch dry, served with good fries. My wife had the Crab salad, again very nicely presented. I would have gone for the burger which looked incredible but 102F. heat made the large portion too much for me to even think about. They have a nice little hidden garden area in the back if it's not too hot.

As I was on a Margarita crusade this trip I tried their house Marg (the only one they offer). It was made with Patron Anejo which I would rather have traded for a silver or reposado as the fine qualities of the Anejo are better enjoyed in a snifter. Sure enough the Marg, although tasty and a good sized portion, could have been made with any decent tequila and for less than $12. I'm almost at the point of ordering my tequila on the side as I've serious doubts in many cases as to what "premium" product is actually being poured.

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Hmm...just returned from Zinc Bistro where we had an OK meal, and the fact that it was just OK was rather disappointing because I'd been really looking forward to it. Ultimately it felt like the concepts and recipes were on the mark, but the execution was a bit haphazard or loveless: some elements of the platings weren't really integrated from a temperature or seasoning perspective, and general salt levels veered off into stratosphere occasionally...I don't know. We had:

FRISEE, SAVOY SPINACH, WARM POACHED BACON-EGG

Dill, Lardons, Sherry Bacon Vinaigrette

ONION SOUP GRATINEE

CALIFORNIA SQUAB AND FOIE GRAS

Cipollini Onion Honey Glaze, Tennessee Grits

AHI TUNA "STEAK TARTARE"

With Cornichon, Fleur De Sel And Mustard Rye

SEARED DRY PACK SCALLOPS

Spanish Chorizo, Roast Corn, Arroz Calasparra

BERKSHIRE PORK COUNTRY RIB

Brandy and Apple Syrup, Juniper Marshmallow, etc.

+++

Looking back, nothing was truly bad, and some bites were really excellent-tasting: the grits and squab were just about perfect; the tuna was zing-y and fresh. You could tell that the pork rib dish could be superb, but it really seemed like mine had been waiting for some other item from our order to finish cooking: my syrup/jus had a coagulated sort of skin on it, the pork wasn't especially juicy or warm. The scallops were cooked perfectly but the rice underneath was distractingly salty...

Anyway, it was 6pm on a Sunday, don't know who was in the kitchen. If I had more time in Phoenix maybe I'd give it another visit but for now it's being filed under slight bummer.

+++


Edited by markemorse (log)

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Mark, I'm very disappointed to hear that you had a bad meal at Zinc being it the best bistro in Phoenix.

Let me emphasize that it wasn't bad, it just felt like the components of these smartly-conceived dishes weren't all being executed with equal conviction/attention, and as a result it ended up giving the impression of a near-miss. Probably just an off-night. As I said, I'd give it another chance if I had more time here and found myself in North Scottsdale.


Edited by markemorse (log)

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I've found that afterwards I was underwhelmed by Zinc, and I finally concluded that it wasn't the food so much as the service. There are some very good waiters there, but there are others that make for a bad experience. It isn't technical problems - things are delivered effectively, but it's an attitude thing. Sometimes they seem annoyed to answer questions about the menu, other times they give these annoyingly condescending descriptions that really don't help. This can happen anywhere, it just seems to happen at Zinc more than most places. It's too bad, because it's too easy to miss what a great place it can be.

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I've found that afterwards I was underwhelmed by Zinc, and I finally concluded that it wasn't the food so much as the service.  There are some very good waiters there, but there are others that make for a bad experience.  It isn't technical problems - things are delivered effectively, but it's an attitude thing.  Sometimes they seem annoyed to answer questions about the menu, other times they give these annoyingly condescending descriptions that really don't help.  This can happen anywhere, it just seems to happen at Zinc more than most places.  It's too bad, because it's too easy to miss what a great place it can be.

Yeah, our server was pretty green and some of the plates looked a bit manhandled by the time they got to us, but this really didn't contribute to my overall dissatisfaction (unless our server was responsible for the "sittin' around" look my pork had).

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I've found that afterwards I was underwhelmed by Zinc, and I finally concluded that it wasn't the food so much as the service.  There are some very good waiters there, but there are others that make for a bad experience.  It isn't technical problems - things are delivered effectively, but it's an attitude thing.  Sometimes they seem annoyed to answer questions about the menu, other times they give these annoyingly condescending descriptions that really don't help.  This can happen anywhere, it just seems to happen at Zinc more than most places.  It's too bad, because it's too easy to miss what a great place it can be.

Yeah, our server was pretty green and some of the plates looked a bit manhandled by the time they got to us, but this really didn't contribute to my overall dissatisfaction (unless our server was responsible for the "sittin' around" look my pork had).

Unfortunately Sundays at some places the "A' team may not be working, that is not a valid excuse by any means but a reality in a 7 day a week lunch and dinner restaurant. There are a great number of servers that have been working at Zinc for quite a number of years and I find those servers to be great, but with the luck of the draw sometimes you can get a "newbie".


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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I was excited to have dinner at Zinc Bistro last Friday night.

My SO and I had the following:

Pommes Frites

Duck Cassoulet

Short Ribs

Profiteroles

Overall, I was quite disappointed with the taste of the food. It was bland and blah. Pommes Frites were good but I salted my fries on my side plate. Duck breast was tasty but the white bean and crispy leg was blah. Short ribs were so so, potatoes were good and cooked perfectly. Profiteroles were tasteless.

Presentation and Service was superb though.

For almost $100, it was quite expensive for a unimpressive meal.

I will be re-visiting Zinc Bistro several more times before closing the book on it.


Edited by Greystreet (log)

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I was excited to have dinner at Zinc Bistro last Friday night.

My SO and I had the following:

Pommes Frites

Duck Cassoulet

Short Ribs

Profiteroles

Overall, I was quite disappointed with the taste of the food.  It was bland and blah.  Pommes Frites were good but I salted my fries on my side plate.  Duck breast was tasty but the white bean and crispy leg was blah.  Short ribs were so so, potatoes were good and cooked perfectly.  Profiteroles were tasteless. 

Presentation and Service was superb though.

For almost $100, it was quite expensive for a unimpressive meal. 

I will be re-visiting Zinc Bistro several more times before closing the book on it.

that is disappointing but perhaps something was off cause I never have had issue with the amount of seasoning on the frites


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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I was excited to have dinner at Zinc Bistro last Friday night.

My SO and I had the following:

Pommes Frites

Duck Cassoulet

Short Ribs

Profiteroles

Overall, I was quite disappointed with the taste of the food.  It was bland and blah.  Pommes Frites were good but I salted my fries on my side plate.  Duck breast was tasty but the white bean and crispy leg was blah.  Short ribs were so so, potatoes were good and cooked perfectly.  Profiteroles were tasteless. 

Presentation and Service was superb though.

For almost $100, it was quite expensive for a unimpressive meal. 

I will be re-visiting Zinc Bistro several more times before closing the book on it.

that is disappointing but perhaps something was off cause I never have had issue with the amount of seasoning on the frites

In terms of cooking method, it was blanched and fried properly. But lacking on the salt side. Maybe that's why they have a good quality salt served on each table.

The following Monday, my SO and her co-worker were chatting about Zinc Bistro and she also had a similar blah experience at Zinc Bistro.


Edited by Greystreet (log)

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In retrospect, salt was the biggest problem with our meal as well (not only too much but too little as well)....things looked beautiful but didn't always taste like someone had tasted them before i did, you know what i mean....


Edited by markemorse (log)

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