Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Tryout Tuesday: ZaZa

On the eve of my last day on the diet ... screw it. Time for some real food.

Enter ZaZa. Tucked unobstrusively into a somewhat faded strip mall, ZaZa had a lovely ambiance: dark velvet curtains, violet-hued walls, low lighting, and smooth jazz in the background. The cuisine was Nawlins'-style, my favorite kind. It was all very promising.

I declined dipping into the extensive martini menu, but Foodgoat did take adventage of Tuesday happy hour deals to indulge in a Guinness (on tap, too, Foodgoat's signal for his type of bar) to go along with a plate of calamari. It was a fabulous start: the battered and fried squid rings, piled high on a spicy, lemony pepper sauce was spectacular. The squid was light and crunchy; the sauce smooth and flavorful. It was probably the best calamari I've had; Foodgoat went so far as to say it was the best dish he'd ever had at a restaurant.

Foodgoat went onto a Bourbon Burger with sweet potato fries. The fries were good and crispy (I know because I kept stealing some from his plate). But the burger was a kicker: a massive one pound of meat, topped with mushrooms and red onions in a Dijon, bourbon whiskey sauce, on sourdough. Poor Foodgoat could barely manage to take half of it down. It scared him a little.

As for me, of course I couldn't turn down the Louisiana crabcakes with mashed sweet potatoes. The crabcakes came with a horseradish sauce, a cocktail sauce, and a hot pepper sauce, and a spicy corn salsa. This is a restaurant that doesn't shy away from the spices, for which we're quite grateful. The crabcakes were just delicious (even better the next day as a sandwich for lunch): crunchy on the outside, moist and sweet on the inside.

I think I have a new favorite restaurant in Cleveland.

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