Usually when I fly into Cleveland, I get in late and dinner is whatever I can grab in the airport or grocery store (previously it was something like Steak & Shake, but I’ve since denounced those ways). This time though, I made sure that I got in with plenty of time to both get in my workout and get a good dinner. And staying downtown, I knew I would have some good options, so I was excited. I was even more excited when I found out the Cleveland Independent restaurants were doing Cleveland Restaurant Week, and Zinc 668 was right across the street from my hotel! Couldn’t have planned it any better if I had tried (believe me, I didn’t try).
After working out and showering, I headed across the street arriving just before 9 o’clock to a virtually empty restaurant. In fact, I had to do a double check of the hours to make sure the restaurant was even open. I sat down at the bar, and asked if I could even order food. Luckily I just beat the closing of the kitchen and so would be able to get something. I grabbed the menu and started searching it trying to make a quick decision before they changed their mind and said no more food. I asked the bartender his recommendation, and all he could tell me was that it was a new menu for the month of November, and everything he’d had so far was very good! Less than helpful (oh and they apparently weren’t doing the restaurant week menu which would have made my decision much easier!). I finally went for salad and scallops, as well as a glass of wine to help calm my nerves after the pressure of making a pseudo-snap decision.
The salad that I went for was a tomato and onion salad which I was expecting to be just that…tomatoes and onions. Instead it was more of a tomato/onion chutney that was served on top of a bed of lettuce. There was a light balsamic vinaigrette and plenty of feta, and it was served nicely chilled. It was simple, the flavors were more muted than explosive, but nice and bright and refreshing. It was the perfect way to set off a main course that’s base was a rich risotto. Three nicely seared diver scallops sat on top of a creamy risotto and surrounded by a butternut squash puree. The risotto was creamy and cooked very well, though further past al dente than I had in Italy. It was actually more the consistency of my risotto which I like. The bacon added a little smokiness that went very well with the sweetness of the squash puree. And the scallops were very nicely seared and provided that sweetness that only a good quality scallop can.
Good thing I wasn’t in the mood for a dessert because the kitchen was closed by the time I could have ordered, but that’s ok. I definitely enjoyed my meal…it was like one of my own risottos only a little bit better. I’m not sure I could quite pull off the puree like they did. The only drawback was that it was a pretty pricey dinner; $60 for the risotto, salad and two glasses of wine. And I really struggled to come up with something to eat because it all seemed to be too much food and I’m not one to take leftover steak with me. But the food quality was there, the ingredients were all locally sourced, and I enjoyed myself….though I wonder why there were so few people there at 9 o’clock…