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Restaurant Reviews

ZY, a new marvel

Last Wednesday night I went to dine at ZY restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City. This was a very special evening because my dining partner was my friend and former roommate Lee Williams. In the early 1980s we shared a very cool bachelor pad high above the city on De Soto Street on Capitol Hill. We held the original meetings of Affirmation there; much to the dismay of our many LDS neighbors. Our home was a gathering place for a throng of gays seeking fun and enlightenment at a time when few were out of the closet. Those years were the best of times.

ZY is on upper State Street next to the new Marriott and we found parking right in front. The setting is very contemporary with soaring ceilings and a massive windowed front. There are new floors and a juxtaposition of exposed brick. I liked the feel of the place very much.

We were met by a very friendly maître d’, Miles Broadhead, who ushered us to a table next to the large windows where we enjoyed the view of the many passers-by hustling to and fro. The table was set with linen which I always like to see and our waitress, Rebecca, was charming and knowledgeable. ZY’s motto is Food, Wine and Cheese, so we put them to the test.

Rebecca recommended the deep sea scallops and the summer tomato salad. The scallops were enormous, succulent and tender. Perfectly seared and served atop a mound of almond pesto laced with curry, and drizzled with butter and reduced red wine—yummy! The salad was composed of all small, garden tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, crunchy croutons and a very light dressing.

Let’s talk about bread. We were served a round boule—too large to be a roll and not large enough to be a loaf—served with a large slice of butter. The bread had a nice crust and was quite dense. I was so happy to get some bread for a change. Many, many restaurants have stopped offering bread altogether, sometimes it makes me crazy! Bread, for me, is an indication what’s really going on in a kitchen and it’s also a handy tool that one needs while eating! Also, how would I have enjoyed the delicious garnishes on the scallops had I not had a piece of bread to soak up all that yumminess?

Rarely do I purchase wine at a restaurant because I prefer to bring my own, but Lee and I decided to try some of the wines by the glass. We started with a Claiborne and Churchill Gewurztraminer and a La Tour Grande Ardeche chardonnay. The Gewurz was spectacular with a burst of that spiciness that Gewurz is famous for, and my chardonnay was mellow, subtle and creamy. Both were just delicious.

Our entrees arrived. Lee chose enchiladas with a verde sauce filled with spinach and mushrooms and I had the braised pork. The enchiladas were garnished with goat cheese and raisins and the green sauce was quite thick and, I thought, had an odd sweetness. The pork melted in my mouth and was perfectly seasoned. It came with spinach and a lot of sauteed mushrooms. Both Lee and I liked the pork more that we liked the enchiladas. We shared a glass of 4 Bears cabernet which, several years ago, I’d thought to be a really nice value wine. This time, however, I was disappointed and found it to be quite pedestrian.

For dessert we had a parfait of strawberries in mango creme. The dish was very simple and elegant, and the strawberries were small and very sweet like the ones from my garden. Lee had fruit and cheese.

If I had to be critical of something it would be the temperature. The scallops, the enchiladas and the pork were not piping hot. I know it’s hard to sear the scallops and to keep them hot without overcooking them and especially Mexican food needs to be very hot—had I been in the kitchen I would have passed the enchiladas under the broiler to get them steaming hot and to melt the goat cheese on the top.

The owner/chef, Matthew Lake, came out to visit us. He was delightful and vivacious and obviously very proud of ZY. I think ZY is still having growing pains but I do believe they’re on the right track and I recommend you go there. Appetizers range from $5-12 and there isn’t one entree higher than $23! I rate ZY at 89 points.

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Chef Drew Ellsworth

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