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Posh, memorable dining experience at Zin's

Restaurant Review

By Talee Mabe
On December 10, 2012

  • The interior of Zin's, a restaurant in downtown Cedar Rapids, plays host to unique cuisine. Photo Contributed

A dining experience at Zin's, the upscale niche for tapas-esque food on Third Street in downtown Cedar Rapids, could invoke several different descriptive words.

The desserts are delicious, the décor is delightful and the atmosphere is cosmopolitan.  

Classic favorites were re-engineered, satisfying my tastes while expanding my horizons slightly. The service and atmosphere were non-invasive but exciting.

The portioning of the dishes seems to create an acute awareness of what one is eating and where and with whom one is dining. This is to the restaurant's advantage, as the aesthetics are classic with industrial minimalist notes. Prevalent wood décor and white linens amplified the fine dining experience.

However, amid my posh surroundings, I ordered a serving of the restaurant's fish and chips.

The fish's crusty surface was flavorful yet light and satisfying, with the requisite crunch and snap. The cuts were not without a mild fishiness, which the fried layer didn't hide. However, it didn't overwhelm the flavor.

After initial skepticism, the mustard sauce with both the chips and the fish underscored the restaurant's talent for innovation.

The placement of dishes seems to be a practiced specialty at Zin's, where it seems both an art form and a technique used in camouflaging the small portions. While I was well aware of what else might have filled my plate at another restaurant, I was pleased with what I saw on my own: Three pieces of battered fish, a small bowl of chips, and small dishes of mustard sauce and vinegar.

This extended into my highly anticipated chocolate bread pudding order, which, along with Zin's take on macaroni and cheese, has earned it wide acclaim. Described by the staff as 'sinful', the pudding is drizzled with a cinnamon anglaise sauce and served in a small stone colored pan. The pudding seemed to change textural notes with every bite, which was immensely satisfying.

The service at the restaurant is brisk but friendly, with a polite and helpful staff who enthusiastically accommodate needs and requests. This includes the bar, where the bartenders can prepare a variety of mixed drinks with or without alcohol. The bartenders also seem practiced in innovation. Based on the words 'virgin,' 'fruity,' and 'weird,' I received an elegant drink with sharp notes of raspberry and a mint leaf.

To frequent this restaurant, one must remember that $10 here will not buy the same sprawling plate of food that it might elsewhere. However, what's not necessarily being accounted for on your final tab is a finesse that is available at every turn, from the presentation of the food to the chic but appealing interior. 

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