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Restaurant Review: Zinc

By Duangjai Samranvedhya
Staff Reporter

Restaurant Zinc

35 Stanhope St., Boston

(617) 262-2323

I first went to Zinc this past summer, to celebrate my first birdie ever. Since Zinc is located next to Bertucci's, around the corner from the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston, I expected service to be in the same category, considering the pizza and hamburgers being served next door. I was quite surprised by the magnitude of the food. Zinc is certainly not a hang-out place for college kids: It's filled with yuppies and middle-age types. But as a place for occasional culinary dining, Zinc is a good choice.

Zinc features a bar in the front and a typical french bistro table arrangement in the back (lots of tables for two along the walls),which explains the noise. Typically, a good restaurant with white linen on the tables implies that the restaurant offers a good wine list. The same is true at Zinc, although the prices are quite high. Another thing that shows how much attention the restaurant pays its customers is the bread. The warm bread and good-quality butter adds a little something to the place. At Zinc, a waiter carries a basket full of warm bread around the room and serves each customer bread individually. I got one plain bread and one flavorful onion bread, although both were a little sticky.

The menu will speak to you, saying, "I am decidedly French." The appetizers run from $8 to 15, entree $20 to 30, all having exquisite, meaning expensive, items such as foi gras or caviar. Half of the past summer's menu consisted of seafood, and featured fashionable items such as skate wings, a selection of rabbit, pork chops, and two kinds of steak. There are also a number of selections from the raw bar.

I started off my first course with Trio Tartare. The Trio was fresh sea scallops over crunchy chopped vegetables (love it!), yellowfin tuna over cucumber, and salmon over egg salad. Note that the portion is not huge since this is an appetizer, but I was still able to share the appetizer with my friend. Although I've had my best tartare somewhere else, this Trio tartare was certainly inventive and quite refreshing for the late summer menu. Also note that the Trio was served rare by nature of preparing tartare.

My entree was the french hanger steak on summer salad: haricots verts, yellow tomato, potato, figs, with a sprinkle of Roquefort on the steak. The steak was very good. I especially liked the combination of summer salad, and I am a big fan of haricots verts - tiny french green beans, which if fresh are very crispy and tender. Intense flavors were packed into the sauce. The steak had a slight charcoal trace to it, but was tender. The garnish was a paper-thin slice of potato chip, with three herbs, bay leaf, parsley, and one other herb, slid inside the chip pocket. You can see the herbs through the potato, showing the level of craftsmanship that goes on in the kitchen.

My friend ordered skate wing in clam soup. For those who do not know, skate wing is a type of fish which has already established itself on fashionable menus in New York and Boston restaurants. Again, the chef at Zinc served us with one of the best fish dishes I've had. The combination of clam soup with the light texture of skate wing made the dish take off. It was so good I almost envied my friend for ordering it.

A restaurant deserves praise when it closes up its clientele with a spectacular dessert - I would say Zinc is almost there. My friend and I ordered profiteroles with pistachio ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was very good, but not exactly to my palate. Maybe it was because they ran out of the dessert I really wanted. All desserts cost $8. The best thing turned out to be a tiny glass of Sautaurne, $8. It was the most delicate thing with the sweetest aroma. I have to admit dessert wine is quite self-indulging, but I'm glad I indulged myself that day. For those with heavier pockets, Zinc has half a bottle of Chateau D'Yucan at $235.

Overall, Zinc was very good, which it had better be considering the prices. Although Zinc is not extraordinary, I would love to go back again and again. Remember that you can also order the least expensive item on the menu, share an appetizer and dessert with your friend, avoid ordering drinks, and still enjoy the talented work of culinary artists without paying big bucks. Notice at the end of the menu though that if you share an entree you will get a $6 charge.

Valet parking service is $10, and becomes convenient after three rounds of driving around the blocks for rare parking spaces. Reservations are highly recommended. Sunday dining is suitable if you want to avoid crowds with noise.