Zinc knocks it out of the park

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Restaurant week is the happiest time of the year. It gives Yale students an excuse to eat really well for a (somewhat) affordable price, and I took advantage of it. On Wednesday, I dined at Zinc for their $16.38 (what a trashy-looking number!) lunch special. It. Was. Phenomenal.

The feel for lunch, however, was different from dinner. Much more relaxed than dinner, it still was beautiful and chic, but added a sense of relaxation — one welcome in this typically hectic time. Going out to lunch in New Haven is not typical of Yale students, but it should be. Taking a break between classes to treat yourself slows down the day and adds a semblance of glamour to normally hectic lives.

The prix fixe lunch menu offers two courses — a main plate and a dessert. I ordered the grilled local chicken apple sausage with a sweet and sour chile mostarda, Yukon mashed potato, and creme fraiche (according to the menu), and for dessert I had the warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. My friend ordered the pan-seared shrimp with preserved lemon and thyme jam, “local late fall succotash” with giant Peruvian lima beans, and for dessert the Nutella and chocolate cup with creme fraiche and peanut brittle. The dishes didn’t necessarily come as advertised, but they were all delicious.

The chicken apple sausage did not come with creme fraiche, but instead cooked spinach. Though spinach isn’t everyone’s favorite leafy green (especially not mine), the flavor it added to the bite was excellent and made for a complete dish. The “sweet and sour chile mostarda” was, in simple terms, onion and jalepeno peppers, sauteed with garlic and doused with mustard oil. The spiciness was too overwhelming for my sensibilities, but it was still tasty. After trying the flavorful potatoes, my friend remarked, “These potatoes are delicious,” and proceeded to take more. After the tub of butter that Yale Dinning tries to pass off as potatoes, this was an excellent display of what mashed potatoes are capable of being. The sausage itself tasted freshly made, subtly fruity (that’s where the apple comes in) and there was just the right amount of it. Typically, lunch dishes tend to go over the top and fill you up until you can’t breathe. When I finished the meal, I was full, but not unbutton-my-pants-and-carry-me-home full.

The shrimp dish was equally as satisfying. The shrimp was perfectly cooked, and the accompanying sweet sauce perfectly complemented the multifaceted flavor profile. The succotash, a dish usually composed of corn and lima beans, was delicious and contributed a sweetness to the plate. Zinc’s restaurant week dinner includes this dish, but substitutes salmon for shrimp. I’m sure that that’s good too, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my dish.

The desserts were the only part that detracted from the otherwise perfect experience. I was particularly excited to try the Nutella and chocolate cup with creme fraiche and peanut brittle. The presentation tricked me at first, looking literally like a peanut butter cup. Unfortunately, it tasted like a bite of almost liquid peanut butter (but good, organic peanut butter) with a weird, savory aspect. The chocolate was minimal and the creme fraiche was awkward on the dish. The other dessert, the warm apple crisp, with all the decadence of your grandmother’s warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream, but without the crust (healthy!). By fusing nostalgia with fine dining, the apple crisp served as a strong finish.

I would give this meal a resounding four out of five stars — the only problems being the upsetting dessert and the fact that I was seated at the bar (it was completely booked! for lunch! on a Wednesday!). If you eat anywhere for lunch this Restaurant Week, eat at Zinc.

Zinc is located on Chapel Street between Crown and Temple.

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