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SF - Lunch near the Civic Center … ZOYA

rworange | Mar 4, 2006 11:23 PM

- one half block away from Citizen Cake on Grove

- cute and charming

- friendly, cheerful service

- good prices

- homey food with a touch of creativity.

- $6 corkage (with good Spiegelau glassware.)

- mostly local organic produce and naturally raised meats

I had
- Tortilla soup (A+)
- Braised beef short ribs over skin-on smashed potatoes (B)
- Warm rice pudding brulee (B-)
- Bloody Mary, Spiced tomato juice, Soju, balsamic vinegar and lime (A)

The bread is the same as the bread I liked so much at 6 Degrees on Solano in Albany – Grace Bakery’s garlic bread. This is a white bread with whole cloves of garlic baked in the bread and not to be confused with the Pugliese Bread with Butter Braised Leeks and Garlic on the dinner menu.

The tortilla soup was amazingly full of flavor … It looked like plain cream of tomato soup … no fried tortilla strips … no other additions. Yet it tasted like everything good about tortilla soup … there was deep tortilla flavor in there and a spicy complexity. On first site I was prepared to hate it because it wasn’t traditional. On first bite I got over it and fell in love with the flavor.

The short ribs were nice, but more like cubes of beef and a little chewier than I expected. They were flavorful. The fantastic buttery mashed potatoes helped this dish standout. Very much a comfort food dish.

The soju based Bloody Mary had a nice balanced spiciness and was garnished with a lemon wedge.

I love warm rice pudding. This was creamy and … here’s that word again … comforting. However, the brown sugar topping overwhelmed the dish. It made it excessively sweet. If you see this on the menu and like rice pudding, ask them just for the pudding.

One of the other diners was raving about the Tenderloin Salad -

A very nice couple run the place. At lunch time it is practically deserted. It might be a nice option if looking for lunch in the Civic Center Area.

There’s a small bar on the bottom floor and the kitchen. To get to the dining room, you have to go outside and up to the second floor using the Days Inn astro-turfed stairs. Not a big deal.

The room is round with wooden banquets around the walls and two four-tops and 5 two-tops. Looking for a place for a party of about 10 – 18 people… you’d have the entire place to yourself. There are lots of bright sunny windows and the music really is good.

The windows make the place larger than it seems. There are white table cloths and a small vase with a single daisy on each table.

The only disappointment was that they didn’t have all the draft beers listed on the website.

I thought it would be an extremely pleasant place for Sunday brunch and asked if there were plans. They are thinking about it.

One of the comments that I read and liked best about Zoya was that it was probably the best restaurant in the US attached to a Day’s Inn. Funny (and probably true) line,however it really doesn’t look like it is a part of the motel at all, just the building next to it.

The only thing is that to get to the dining room on the second floor, you have to walk up the Day’s Inn stairway.

This is a first restaurant for the couple (he’s the chef, she is the hostess/server). So there are still some things they need to work out. However, the bites that were delicious were very delicious so there could be a lot of promise here.

Link: http://www.zoyasf.com/index.html

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