With a new chef and menu for the fall, we were excited to see what Zinc Bistro a Vins was cooking up. Either intimate and solitary or grand and bustling, the French bistro is a special place — of these categories, Zinc falls into the former. The restaurant welcomes visitors with open arms into an extremely small space, illuminated dimly by candles and low lights.
Upon entering, we were greeted and promptly served, though, at the time, there were only two other guests. We ordered the goat cheese salad ($9), the house terrine ($10), a mushroom pastry ($11), and the hanger steak ($18). By way of an unfortunate mix–up, the steak was replaced by the salmon, which was more expensive ($24).
Nevertheless, each dish was wholesome and delicious, prepared with fresh, inspired ingredients. Walnuts were mixed into the terrine, which was served with a pairing of apricot preserves and spicy mustard, followed by a few sweet pickles to cleanse the palette. The walnuts contributed a wonderful nuttiness, as well as a crunch that juxtaposed well the terrine’s soft texture. The goat cheese salad was creamy and mild, baked inside a filo pastry flower with a side of greens. Upon receiving the mushroom appetizer, we were amazed by the light and fluffy pastry, yet discouraged by the sweetness of the dish.
The salmon was cooked and seared beautifully, served with capers, green beans and a tomato–based sauce. While still sufficiently delicious, the salmon did not have the wow effect of the appetizers, and I was disappointed to have missed the steak.
For dessert, we had the nougat glace ($10), the bread pudding ($9.50) and a complimentary pot de creme. Though overpriced, the nougat glace was wonderful, served with a raspberry sauce and accented texturally by candied pralines and walnuts. The bread pudding — brioche prepared with Armagnac and cranberries — was delicious and unique, though it dried toward the end. In comparison, the pot de creme was standard and bleak.
We found Zinc a better foray into French cuisine than its competitor, Le Bec Fin, though we felt the dishes lacked creativity. However, like LBF, Zinc provides subpar service, going so far as to fail to note the price of desserts on the menus, which dampened our experience.
Zinc Bistro a Vins 246 South 11th St (215) 351-9901 $$$$$ Don’t Miss: The House Terrine Skip: The Pot de Crème