Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Latest Zingerman's Adventure

Due to my school-stir-crazy-ness, Cj and I went to Zingerman's Roadhouse for dinner last night. In case you missed it, it's Zingerman's sit-down "really good American food" restaurant. No sandwiches, lots of American classics made with the best ingredients they can find (lotta Niman Ranch meat). Menu items include six different kinds of macaroni and cheese, Chicken Fried steak, fresh seafood, and grits to name a few.
I promised Cj i would take him there so he could sample $20 chicken fried steak, in comparison to the $5 version he loves all over the south. (and yes, he's been to every state in the south but one, but can't figure out which.)

He had, of course, The Chicken Fried Steak, and Dead Guy Ale to drink, due to his love of beer and lack of love for adventure.

I had Georges Bay sea Scallops, sauteed, and a glass of Adelsheim Pinot Gris.

So, how did the $20 version of CFS hold up? average score of 7 out of 10 (assuming 10 is the "real thing") According to Cj:
The meat was the best he's ever had in chicken fried steak, earning an easy 10. The breading and gravy were of a high quality, and done well, but lacking the the southern touch: as he put it, "Its missing that old black dude with one gold tooth who's only purpose in life is to make chicken fried steak" flavor. Delicious, but not the real thing.
If you're interested in getting the best chicken fried steak, he suggests Mom's Place in Stillwater OK, where a chicken fried steak, salad, roll, fried okra and another side of your choice is $6.

And my scallops, you ask? Delicious. Firm, not chewy, nice subtle flavors, everything a scallop should be. The drawback? $27. Normally, I don't balk about restaurant pricing, I understand thats how the game works. However, I had exactly 6 scallops. Which, was more than enough to fill me, but something about the countablilty of them combined with knowing the price felt exorbitant. This doesn't really reflect on the meal so much as my own personal psychology, however, as I realize I wouldn't have minded a slab of fish at that price.

On to the wine. First, the service I received in ordering a glass of wine was excellent, if misguided. I asked for a recommendation in ordering a glass of white to go with my scallops; I explained that the qualities I appreciate in a white included butter, oak and vanilla, and I tended to shy away form wines that were particularly fruity or that read as sweet. It was rather noisy when I expressed this to the server, and I think (hope) that what he herd was the opposite of what I said. Regardless, he recommended two glasses and brought me a generous taste of each in order for me to make my mind up. unfortunately, both the wines he chose were rather fruit forward (and what i mean by this is that the first thing you taste, ie, the front of the palate, is all fruit) and one of them was aged in steel, which is a guarantee that there will be no oak-y ness. However, it turned out that the one aged in steel also had a bit of a spicy finish, which i appreciated, and went with that one. In the end, it was an excellent pairing with the scallops and impressive service that got me it, even if it wasn't the exact glass I was looking for. As a shocking side note, the guy didn't even card me.

Oh yes, I'm still not done. Thats right, we did it up right and even got dessert. (I was wearing heels for god's sake.)

Cj has an affinity for pecan pie, and the Zingerman's bakehouse version definitely towed the line. It was rich and caramel-y, with a delightfully airy filling,and a sturdy crust. (He may have chipped a tooth on it, but that sounds like a personal problem...mmhmm...)

My affinity for caramel (and dislike of chocolate) lead me to the Doughnut sundae, which is every bit as decadent and ludicrous as it sounds: house-made doughnut, topped with a scoop of vanilla, a scoop of whipped cream,(what appeared to be) homemade caramel sauce, AND garnished with Virginia peanuts and maraschino cherry. It was incredulous, and perfect and delicious and the best doughnut i have ever had in my life.
I absolutely could not finish it.

all in all, our meal was about $84, which, according to my internal dinner out price-o-meter-estimator, is slightly high (we had two drinks, not a bottle of wine) but certainly not unreasonable.

And of course, escaping from the mind-crushing expectations of academia? priceless.

(The author would like to note here that she rounded out they evening by watching The Matrix: Reloaded and ignoring all relevant homework for the night, instead basking in the glory of Keanu Reeves, home-brewed beer and tummy fulla doughnut satisfaction)

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