For some odd reason, the past year has seen me have these amazingly harsh cravings for French cuisine. I have no idea why or what triggered this, but I am often overcome with a desire to consume large amounts of pomme frites or roasted chicken. While these bouts of cravings can prove difficult when I am at work, they are for French food, so I can't be too angry.
One of those cravings hit me Friday morning. Since everyone I know seems to have retreated to San Diego for the weekend, I decided to treat myself to a bistro meal. I wasn't sure where to start. I didn't want to go to Coup de Tartes because I am heading there in a few weeks. After reading some descriptions, I thought it was time for me to venture up to Kierland Commons and try out Zinc Bistro.
Since it was Friday night, I thought I should call and make a reservation. The person who answered the phone was very nice and said they don't accept reservations for just one person, but she noted that it is off season and that if was a wait she would make sure I didn't wait long. That was a nice gesture.
I drove up to the area and parked in the garage about a block away. I walked to the place and liked what I saw from the outside. It was set up like a Parisian cafe with awnings and plenty of tables and chairs. A few brave souls were outside braving the heat and the wind that was kicking up from an on-coming dust storm. I walked into the restaurant and loved the place at first sight. The designer had done well at recreating a French bistro atmospher with woodgrain mouldings and a white tile floor. The wait staff was in black and white attire with aprons and large trays. As I entered, I asked for a table for one and was escorted to a comfortable table just steps away.
I sat down and was immediately given a glass of water and a basket of break with a plate of room temperature unsalted butter. This is dangerous. I grabbed a piece of the bread, buttered it and snacked on it while reviewing the menu. The bread was soft on the inside and the crust was chewy. It may have just been bread, but a fresh bread with unsalted butter is just heaven for me.
As I looked at the menu, the server approached and took my drink order. I opted for a glass of Diet Coke and more water. When my server returned I had made my decisions. I would get soup, salad, an entree, a side dish, and dessert. I didn't see anything that stood out appetizer wise, so the soup and salad would serve that purpose. I still had a few doubts on my entree, so I asked for a refill on the soda.
My server arrived with a fresh glass and I placed my order. I ordered the Onion Soup with Gruyere Cheese for the soup ($8.00). The choice of salad was difficult because I was torn between the House Salad and the Frissee and Spinach Salad. The latter won ($8.00). For the entree, I went with the Steak Au Poivre ($19.50). It came with a choice of "Matchstick Potatoes" or Pommes Frites. I went with the Frites. I almost always order Steak Au Poivre at a bistro because it is such a basic staple. If they can't get this right, all else is doomed. To round out the meal, I selected a glass of the house Bordeaux ($8.00).
I waited a scant five minutes before my salad arrived. I was a bit surprised that the salad arrived first, but I took it in stride. Before me sat a shallow bowl with spinach and frissee leaves covered in bacon and tossed with a sherry vinegrette and on top of this was a perfectly poached egg. I broke the egg apart and lightly tossed with with the rest of the salad, adding a few sprinkles of black pepper along the way. My first bite said it all: simply amazing. Somehow, the poached egg had transformed this into an outstanding salad. My guess is that is helped to counter the saltiness of the bacon. It was just wonderful and I could eat this salad many times over before getting bored with it.
Next up, the soup arrived. On a large serving charger was a small tureen of piping hot soup, covered with Gruyere cheese. I broke into the top and let it cool slightly. I took a bite and was surprised at what I tasted and how it felt in my mouth. The soup was salty and yet a bit sweet and very oniony. The piece of bread beneath the cheese was a small slice of hearty black bread. The textures were great, but the standout was the broth. It was somewhat thick and not watery. The cheese was also plentiful, so much so that I did not envy the person washing dishes in the back as the cheese had melted all over the sides of the tureen.
The server returned with my glass of Bordeaux and then apologized as my entree seemed to have been given to another diner who had ordered the same item. Oddly, I wouldn't have noticed as there wasn't that long of a delay.
My entree was set in front of me and I could immediately smell the oil from the Pommes Frites. On my plate were two large medallions of beef sitting atop a nice brandy and peppercorn reduction. It was simply garnished with a spig of fresh rosemary. Also on the plate was a huge (and I do mean HUGE) portion of Pommes Frites served in a metal service dish. I would estimate that there was at least 1 lb. of potatoes on the plate.
The steak was tender and deliciously spiced. It was cooked to a very nice medium rare and the juices from the steak combined with the reduction were a perfect match. I nibbled on the Frites and then began a long ritual of devouring forkful after forkful of Frites after dipping them in the reduction. Who needs ketchup?
The glass of Bordeaux was very nice. A nice bold wine with lots of fruit flavors and a bit of pepper on the back end. This was a great match with the steak.
I finished my meal and my server presented the dessert menu. I reviewed the contents and was drawn to the Port and Vanilla Berry Tart ($8.00). However, I simply had no more room. A pound of potatoes, steak, salad, soup, bread and wine tends to be a bit filling. So, I passed on dessert, but finished my wine and cleared my palate with a few bites of the remaining bread.
My server presented the bill. The total was $49.73 including tax. I felt it was a decent value for the food I got. Service was good and the atmosphere was perfect.
I think my only complaint about the place is that it is loud because of the bar. I found myself uncomfortable a few times with the noise level. Outside of that, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Next time, however, I will make room for dessert.
15034 North Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Dress: Business Casual
Notes: This is inside the Kierland Commons complex.
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