SKY Gourmand: Zinc….Why you should add it to your diet.
Posted by cmh gourmand on June 5, 2012
Located one half block from the shores of Lake Erie, Zinc Brasserie has made a name for itself with north coast culinary hipsters, tourists, residents and food enthusiasts. Reading the numerous very positive reviews on every rating tool I can find, each reads about the same. (Paraphrased) – “I can’t believe there is a place like this in Sandusky, the French styled menu exceeded my expectations, I really loved the Beet Salad”. On the surface, I would say exactly the same thing. Digging deeper, I will write a bit more.
First, non residents of Columbus often say “I can’t believe I found something like this in Columbus, Ohio”. A good restaurant can be anywhere and it can serve anything. The basics are the same – food, service, atmosphere and exceeding expectations in each of the previous categories. Zinc Brasserie does well in all of these areas.
We are all prone to discount small cities and towns as not being urbane enough to spawn a good restaurant. I wonder why that is? Jackson Hole boasts several great restaurants due to the influx of people passing through to enjoy the area. It is possible for a good or great restaurant to call any locale home, many tend to write off fly over country or any place with only one zip code. Granted the probability is overwhelming but it is there. In retrospect, we should expect a restaurant like this in Sandusky, maybe a few of them. The north coast of Ohio offers a bounty of fresh and local produce, great purveyors, fish and The Chef’s Garden is just a corn hole toss away in nearby Huron (I spied a few familiar looking micro greens on my plate). Sandusky is no Metropolis but it does have a sizable population and a flood of visitors flowing through six to eight months per year. The city hosts one of nearly every restaurant chain known to man as well as several independent restaurants. My philosophy is “if you cook well, they will come”. And come they do, to downtown Sandusky. Cleveland is not so far away. In fact, Zinc Brasserie is listed among the Cleveland Independents, a group of some of the best restaurants in the greater Cleveland area. Cleveland is close enough for Zinc to see where the culinary bar is raised to. Chef Cesare Avallone and his wife Sarah saw the bar then jumped over it.
Speaking of bars, Zinc sports a good one. The counter area looks like a classic bar from the early 20th century. While the bar presents well, it is not a case of form over substance. The drink menu features well crafted cocktails, a deep wine list and a satisfactory selection of beers including some north coast all-stars. Speaking of bars again, located across the street at 145 Columbus Ave is the Avallone’s second venture Crush Wine Bar. I would link the website but it is pretty obnoxious (note to web designers, music on a restaurant web site is a major fail in the world of social media, or any media for that matter). I scouted out Crush status post Zinc. It serves a smaller tapas style menu, adds more cocktails and wines that Zinc can’t find room for and serves as a pre or post destination for those dining across the street. Speaking of additional venture…. the Avallone’s are opening a third restaurant in Sandusky this summer. It is called Dockside Cafe. It sits right on the lake and is accessible by foot, bike, car or boat.
Now back to Zinc. The space is small, cozy (at some tables cramped) and does have an old and French bistro feel. The menu reflects the current season and also changes frequently due to a focus of local and in farm fresh ingredients. I could wax on about my specific entrees and how good each dish was….but most likely my meal no longer exists with the same combination of ingredients so I will just engage in some food blog porn below (I hope I am not swatted by a pretentious bear). ((The first person to guess what I am alluding to in the previous sentence gets a prize of some manner)). A few dining notes: there are good reasons why so many reviews include the word beet; Zinc Brasserie does a great job with presentation but not to the detriment of anything in the menu, especially those dishes featuring meat; and dessert…do it.
142 Columbus Avenue • Sandusky, OH • 419.502.9462
Crush Wine Bar
145 Columbus Ave.