Zinc is as Good as Gold
Everyone here knows that Sandusky, OH is one of my homes away from home. I love Sandusky, I love the work I do up there, and I enjoy the unique Great Lake Erie nature and views. I would be awesome if the rest of my work could be as enjoyable and fun, and everyone else's work could be this way too. But, there is a dark downside to Sandusky, the restaurant food has been really unhealthy, filled with fried trans-fats foods, and low on the list for fresh veggies. It has always seemed a bit odd that there were so many farms in this suburban/rural area, yet there were no restaurants that used the bounty grown in North Central Ohio. In the recent years, I have gotten around this problem by getting to know some local farmers and buying direct, knowing where the farmer's markets are each day of the week, picking my own to pay on an honor system basis, and microwave cooking local produce in my hotel room. I have dug deep into this area to find locally owned restaurants, among the vast number of chain fast food and fast casual places.
I never thought that the Sandusky food scene would have a French inspired brasserie with items on the menu that uses locally grown organic veggies from small local farms. I can attest to the deliciousness of local organic foods grown in this area because I have eaten veggies fresh from local farms. I never thought it would be Sandusky where I would eat Pate de Campagne (country pate) for the 1st time since returning to the USA from France. Zinc Brasserie's Pate de Campagne was so good, and made in the Burgundy tradition, that I swear I was back in France eating pate. I never thought it would be Sandusky where I would feel completely transformed back to French dining in a small village brasserie. Folks, I am star struck for sure, and I am going to dining at Zinc Brasserie every time I am in Sandusky.
I don't know where to begin! So much about this little restaurant is swirling in my head!
This little place reminds me of one of the dining experiences we had in Givry, France. The color scheme of this bistro and bar were the same as our Givry experience. The charcuterie plate came out and it was artistically made as any starter meat plate in restaurants we ate in little towns in France. The house made air dried beef and the house made pork country pate woke my taste buds in a way that they thought they were in Pommard France. I followed up the starter plate with a spinach, apple and applewood bacon salad. The amazing thing about this salad is that I believe it is the 1st salad I have had in Sandusky over the course of 10 years that I actually had a green that was not iceburg lettuce. Other salads included local heirloom tomatoes and local roasted beets. I love roasted and boiled beets. I have never seen heirloom tomatoes or roasted fresh beets on any other menu in Sandusky. I am impressed already and I have only talked about 1 starter and my salad!
Before I went on this trip to Sandusky, I did a quick peek at Trip Advisor restaurants, and Zinc Brasserie floated to the top as #1. In years past, the #1 restaurant of 54 in Sandusky was a chain, and a chain I don't want to frequent. I don't completely trust Trip Advisor's rankings because at one time, the Nashville Ranks had chains and closed restaurants listed in the top 25. Needless to say, I was skeptical and went to look at Zinc Brasserie's website. I looked and I was still skeptical when the website claimed raw oysters. I had flashbacks to a crappy restaurant claiming to have raw oysters, but no one knew what variety they were besides being fried or raw.
I was SOOOO pleasantly surprised when I quickly stopped in Zinc Brasserie for lunch before I headed to the airport to come home. The deal is, the Chef and Owner Cesare Avallone is from the Sandusky area originally, went to CIA in NY and then worked at various chef owned restaurants in NYC and a few select cities in the USA. While in NYC he met his wife Andrea, who was born and breed NY, but is enjoying the pace of North Central Ohio. The clientel seems to be from the local area. Some patrons eat here weekly because it is so good. The price for starters, and salads are about the $8 - 10 range, and main entrees are about $18 - 28. When all said and done, the price point isn't that much more than chain sit-downs like Red Lobster, but the quality of the food, and the care of preparing the food is SOOOO much better than chains. The portion size here at Zinc Brasserie are generous for sure, and had I been heading back to my room instead of flying out, I would have saved 1/2 my meal for later. You can tell that Cesare really cares about every detail of the food preparation. It is the food preparation excellence that you rarely find anymore.
The last thing I will say about this gem of a restaurant is that it is located in the heart of downtown Sandusky, where there is a bunch of free parking. I think all of downtown Sandusky is now free parking as an insentive to get more business and commerce to come back to this charming downtown. Sandusky, along with a lot of small hometown Americas have been dying due to the "Walmart effect", that is to say a lot of commerce has been taking out of the downtown to some edge of town strip mall or big box store area. Zinc Brasserie has only been open for a little over a year, but I have noticed that this one block of downtown has been much busier since opening. Zinc Brasserie will definitely help revitalize the Sandusky downtown area. I will certainly go to Zinc Brasserie again and again and help bring commerce back to downtown America.