[New Haven, CT] Zinc

We liked it here. A modern setting with a good buzz. There’s an interesting menu, a bit fusiony along with what I suppose might be called Modern American cuisine.

Bread came quickly. Squares of flatbread with a fennel and chilli jam to spread on them. Lovely.

Soup of the day was tomato, hominy and red pepper. Nice texture but heavily spiked with chilli. Too heavily spiked – it overpowered the other flavours. The other starter was a star dish. A star not just of this meal but one of the best starters eaten this year in meals across three countries. Artichokes had been fried till they were a bit charred and a bit crisp. I know what you’re thinking – “that’s burnt artichokes, innit?” But, no, this was a bang-on bit of cooking. It came with a beetroot houmous which was delicious in itself and with its earthy sweetness, perfectly complemented the slight bitterness of the artichoke. For contrast, there’s lightly pickled baby carrots and thinly sliced radish.

There was a pork chop for one main course, with a bourbon and chipotle BBQ sauce. Not an overpowering sauce but one that was quite assertive. There were green beans tossed in a little crème fraiche. And, for a carb, a piece of cornbread was the perfect accompaniment.

Gnocchi came with a creamy porcini sauce, which could have used more porcini as the flavour was relatively muted. A scattering of peas brought a little sweetness but there was also an odd sweetness from something unidentified. Thinly sliced pickled leeks were also in there. It was a dish that certainly worked, if not a memorable one.

Nice as the savoury courses generally were, it was dessert that was our favourite (and that’s a rare occurrence for us). This was a rich, creamy rice pudding, served cold with a really fruity apricot jam and an ice cream, delicately flavoured with basil. Just a combination of textures and flavours that came together perfectly.

We finished with good espresso.