Monday, June 18, 2012


I've heard lots of mixed things about Zy but their menu was pretty undeniable, so I knew that we'd eventually have to check the place out. Zy is literally the border of development on State Street - kudos to them for setting up shop in a risky locale. We sat on the patio (which has only been around for about a week now) and had a bottle of their Curtis Heritage Blanc. We felt like a refreshing wine would be the ticket after a long day of climbing in American Fork, and so we let the wine choice dictate most of our selections for the rest of the meal. I'd be very happy to return and check out the meat courses at Zy in the future.

We started out with a selection of three cheeses. I asked the waiter to build us something with one soft and two hard options, and he came back with the Truffle Tremor (Cypress Grove Arcata, California, Goat milk), Butter Bound (Beehive, Utah, Cow milk) and Gold Bear Dry Monterey Jack (Vella Cheese Co, California, Cow milk). The Truffle Tremor was a hands-down winner - one of the better cheeses I've ever had. I'm a fan of the Butter Bound but my wife wasn't - Beehive uses Sierra Nevada cultured organic butter and hand rubs their cloth bound Promontory the day after making it, then open-air ages it until the buttery, nutty and irresistible flavors come to life. The last cheese was a dry-aged monetary jack that was good but nothing super special. We both enjoyed it.

Then, the best thing ever happened. Our waiter brought us a plate of the buttermilk fried oysters on a leek puree topped with leeks, aged pancetta, lemon and herbs. The oysters are just flash fried so they retain their smooth texture and flavor, but the 24 hour buttermilk bath makes them about 2x bigger than a normal oyster. The may be the best appetizer I've had in Utah, and it pairs perfectly with the Heritage Blanc (or any Sauvignon or Fume Blanc). I would go back to Zy just to have this again.

We also ordered a salad - the asparagus and arugula salad topped with shaved dry jack, pesto and truffled olive oil. This was a good dish but probably could have used just a touch more flavor. Certainly a good way to add some green to our meal, it just had a hard time competing next to the oysters.

After we had finished our cheese and starters, the entrees arrived. I ordered the filet of true cod topped with brown buttered crab and served over pearl couscous with green garlic and beach mushrooms. This dish was actually very tasty - the white wine based sauce added enough flavor to really make the dish interesting. I wish that they could create a presentation to match the flavor profile here, because, as you can see, the dish was pretty poor in terms of appearance on the plate. Next time I'll probably order one of the other fish entrees (our waiter recommended the steelhead with roasted pepper puree and spring ramps - and his recommendations were always good).

My wife ordered the beer brined Mary's chicken served with skillet potatoes, beans and bacon and topped with a grain mustard glaze. This was a very nice chicken dish - similar to what Copper Onion does with their cast-iron chicken but with a very unique set of flavors thanks to the mustard glaze. I also thought that the presentation here was great - the green beans added some color to the dish and the flavor matched the appearance.

For dessert, we got the strawberry and rhubarb shortcake with creme fraiche and it was killer. My photo isn't the best but this was a great dessert that really presented the rhubarb well (instead of just sugaring the hell out of it as some recipes tend to do with fresh rhubarb). The shortcake is a more traditional recipe - so it ends up somewhere between biscuit and shortbread in consistency. The crisp crust and light crumb were perfect and the creme fraiche was also really well done.

We also tasted the creme brûlée and it was a good take on a classic. The only real differentiator here was a much thicker than usual top shell. Given that this is everyone's favorite part of this dessert, I think that will be a plus for the Zy iteration of creme brûlée.

Zy promotes themselves on whiskey, wine and cheese. I think that they are doing a great job of providing a curated wine and cheese list that isn't extensive, but leaves you with nothing but good options. If you think that a good wine list needs to be the size of the phone book, look elsewhere, but I appreciated the thought that went into compacting the list as Zy has done. The whiskey list was a bit low-brow for my tastes, but there were plenty of good options there too. I suppose I just want to try new and interesting whiskey when I'm out instead of drinking what I likely already have at home, and Zy's whiskey list features mostly staples of any enthusiast's collection.

The verdict? Zy is not cheap, but the experience was worth the price. Food ranged from very good to brilliant, portions were huge, and with a few very small tweaks our meal would be in the running for one of the best we've had in Salt Lake. Service was also top notch and the best items of the night came at the recommendation of our server.

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