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new years eve at zambras: a review (asheville, nc)


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new years eve at zambras: a review (asheville, nc)

mark | Jan 4, 2006 12:44 PM

as promised, here's the review:

for the most part, it was a succesful meal. i was a little disappointed with a few substitutions from the menu they emailed me when i made the reservation.

we started with duck confit, poached pear & mitacana cheese spring rolls. these were supposed to be accompanied by a pistachio dipping sauce, but were instead served with a butternut squash soup. the soup, as well as the spring rolls, were excellent, and the substitution wasn't amiss. the presentation left a little to be desired as the spring roll was balanced on the edge of the soup dish, but many, including mine, fell into the soup before they reached the tables, eliminating the possibility of it being finger food.

the 2nd course was a baby arugula salad w/ shaved wild radishes (they were actually very thinly julienned), crispy serrano ham/bacon, oranges & idiazabal cheese. it was served with a light viniagrette. fairly tasty, but no better than what i knock together on many a weeknight.

the 3rd course was the weakest. as desribed in the emailed menu, it was supposed to be pan-seared shrimp & scallops w/ lobster & butternut squash risotto, sturgeon caviar & tarragon mantequilla. as served it was a pan-seared shrimp (cooked just right) & a scallop (mine was a little overdone, my wife said her's was fine) and a crab cake topped with caviar & mantequilla. i was looking forward to the risotto, so was disappointed in the crab cake substitution, especially as it was overcooked. the caviar was either inferior quality or stored improperly as it was mush. the sauce was tasty, but too skimply applied.

a very nice cucumber/mint sorbet served as a very nice palate cleanser.

given the problems with the seafood above, we both opted for the beef tenderloin with calvados brandy sauce, truffle-mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach. the beef was excellent and cooked perfectly. the potatoes were fantastic. the spinach was good as well. the other option was pan-seared yellow-fin with a cherry sauce and pearl onions, but my wife doesn't do large cuts of medium-rare seafood, and i wasn't willing to be disappointed with another attempt at seafood.

dessert was a flourless chocolate torte with a white chocolate truffle & candied orange zest. this was excellent, although the candied orange zest turned out to be a raspberry coulis.

everyone at the restaurant was very nice and accomodating, especially so of my wife who is currently on crutches. the waiter recommended an excellent wine which i unfortunately forgot to note the name of.

the restaurant is nice. it has kind of a subterranian decor (appropriate as it's located in a daylight basement). the live music was kind of new agey light jazz. good background ambience, and not too loud.

at $65 per person, not including tax & tip, the price was right for the menu they aspired to, but was a little high for the actual execution. this was a unique menu for zambras. they are typically a tapas place, and get good reviews for that. if i had to make a recommendation based on this one experience, i'd say they try hard, but don't live up to their prices. however,since i know this was an atypical menu for them, we'll give the regular tapas menu a shot before i pass final judgement.

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