Last night, I happened to be up in North Scottsdale after work. Since I was near Pere's office, I gave her a call to see if she wanted to meet for dinner. She suggested Zinc Bistro at Kierland Commons, a place which just happened to be on my restaurant to-do list.
Kierland Commons bills itself as a "main street shopping experience". It has a definite small town, residential feel to it that I like. Especially in Arizona where the concept of a city seems to be lost. That said, Zinc Bistro is set smack in the center of the commons. It's modeled after a typical Parisian bistro, complete with zinc bar. We chose to sit outside on their sidewalk patio as the weather was absolutely beautiful.
I was in the mood for a glass of wine, and asked our waitress for a glass of the house Bordeaux. Unfortunately, they were all out of both of their house Bordeaux's, so our waitress suggested the house Cotes du Rhone instead. I went with her suggestion while Pere ordered a glass of the house Pinot Grigio. While we were waiting for the waitress to come back with our drinks, another server stopped by with a basket of sourdough bread. The bread was crusty, had a good tangy taste, but was a bit too chewy in the middle.
The menu at Zinc Bistro had a number of interesting appetizers and entrees listed, quite a few I would have been happy trying. In the end, I decided on their pan roasted basil chicken served with creamy risotto. They also had several additional "sides" on the menu that looked good. I wasn't in the mood for an appetizer, but I was in the mood for the lemon gnocchi with olives, so I asked the waitress for that as well. I figured I'd be taking some of the meal home with me for lunch the next day. Pere went with the ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and spinach finished with a black truffle sauce. She also ordered an additional side, the roasted cord risotto with chive crème fraiche.
Both of the house wines we tried were ok, but nothing memorable. Next time we come, I think we'll try a bottle from the list of French wines. We both like French wines, and find a generally poor selection of moderately priced wines at Arizona restaurants.
When the food arrived (promptly, we were pretty hungry. My basil chicken was evenly roasted and was served with a very flavorful basil oil pan sauce that contained mushrooms. Some people find chicken to be too boring to order out. I on the other hand take it as a challenge for a chef to do chicken justice. Chef Matt Cartier does just that. The risotto that came with the chicken was served in a small Staub crock. It was mildly flavored with herbs, and had small pieces of smoked chicken in it. Overall, it was good, but not great. The gnocchi, however were awesome. The combination of potato, lemon, and olives with the buttery sauce worked well, and I found myself finishing them off before I was even half-way through the rest of my meal.
I tried Pere's ravioli, and liked them too. The pasta was cooked just right, and the individual flavors of the spinach, goat cheese, and sauce all came through. Her risotto, however, was bland and needed more salt. Even with the addition of some extra salt, it still fell a bit flat, especially compared to the excellent risotto we're used to at Va Bene.
We passed on desert this time around as we really just had a light dinner in mind. Overall, I found Zinc Bistro to be pretty good, and I'm eager to come back for a more complete sampling of the menu.