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mpls - Brasserie Zinc

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We had an enjoyable dinner at Zinc the other night - six oysters from the (rather limited) raw bar were fresh and excellent, an escargots appetizer, containing 13 plump snails in the usual herb butter sauce was an exceptional value (I think the price was about $6). The cote de boeuf for two with french fries and white truffle bernaise sauce was steak house quality (and the sauce actually tasted of white truffles, or more likely of white truffle pate that is a chemical concuction with some real truffles thrown in, anyway it was good). (with wine and dessert, the meal cost $85 including tax).

Zinc's decor is a good clone of a parisian brasserie, it features a well equipped bar that even features an absinthe clone (unfortunately made without wormwood) and a good beer selection. About 10 red wines are available by the glass (didn't take a look at the bottle list). Definitely a very nice place to have around.

P.S. can someone enlighten me as to how food is taxed in the twin cities? sometimes the tax seems to be around 6% while in Zinc, Aquavit and Manny's it seemed to be 11%

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  1. Yes, you are right about the tax. Minnesota sales tax is 6.5%, but in downtown Minneapolis the hotel and restaurant tax is significantly higher--about 11%.

    1. m
      Michael Penfield

      I recently dined at Brasserie Zinc as well and enjoyed the same appetizer of escargots, but the veal was a step away from being too tough. I had ordered it medium vs. medium rare or rare, so maybe it was my fault.

      Anyhow, of the red wines available by the glass, definitely order the R.H. Phillips (sic?) Shiraz. It has what I clumsily call a "big" taste, but it's not sickly sweet either.

      22 Replies
      1. re: Michael Penfield

        The Star Tribune reviews it today, giving Zinc 2.5 stars. Seems like the reviewer needs to be just a tad less cocky about his knowledge of French brasserie fare.

        Link: http://www.startribune.com/viewers/qv...

        1. re: Orik
          g
          Gregory White

          Jeremy Iggers cocky about his food knowledge? Imagine that. BTW, if that guy writes one more review referring to a restaurant's sausage selection as being no better than supermarket quality ( he pulled that one on the Glockenspiel, also), I'm going to find him and beat him with a large piece of Johnsonville kielbasa! :p

          1. re: Gregory White

            We had the unfortunate "honor" of having Iggers as food section editor/reviewer for the Detroit Free Press before he went further North. He sucked here, so I'm not surprised he sucks there. A twit and a lightweight with pretensions--bad combo.

            1. re: berkleybabe
              g
              Gregory White

              I'd say that I wish he would go back to Detroit, but I'd hate to sound like I was threatening you! Oh, well, maybe he'll keep on moving northwest and end up in Fargo-a fitting punishment. Sorry, not fair to the people in Fargo. Just where is chowhound hell? Jim, you've travelled a lot as a musician, can you divulge it's location? I'm talking about a culinary wasteland; a place with no secret, little known about treasures, where all meat and seafood is cooked well-done and it's a dry county.

              1. re: Gregory White
                m
                Michael Penfield

                I'm amused by the current round of critic bashing from several "chowhounders" in this forum. I'd put the following questions to you folks:

                1. Do you not realize that food critics read and post to this forum, sometimes anonymously, thereby rendering your character assassinations not only irrelevant and tacky but extremely rude?

                2. How is it in the spirit of chowhounding to disrespect the culinary experiences of others- is it done perhaps out of a need to feel superior to those with whom you disagree?

                1. re: Michael Penfield

                  Hey, intentionally public figures like journalists put themselves in this line of fire. And critics in particular are MORE than deserving of their own treatment; there's nobody less sympathetic in the whole world than an insulted critic!

                  Though I do agree that the vitriol level in this thread has gone higher than is really very polite or seemly.

                  But bear in mind, there's never before been a place for really discerning eaters to compare notes before, and there's a lot of pent-up frustration with the level of food journalism in this country (which is, in my opinion, absolutely appalling). So people are getting carried away.

                  ciao

                  1. re: Jim Leff
                    m
                    Michael Penfield

                    My concern boils down to this- that sometimes we are attacking the critic and not his conclusions. I'd much rather see the latter, providing that the attacks are informed and constructive.

                    That said, I have no truck with Orik's reading of Iggers' review, only with readings which imply that we really shouldn't care about Iggers' opinions because, well, he's supposedly a twit, or he sucks or he's pretentious.

                    By the way, Orik wrote that Brasserie Zinc received 2.5 stars, but I'm curious out of how many possible stars, and whether the star rating was based solely on food, or on food/service/atmosphere, with equal or weighted emphasis.

                  2. re: Michael Penfield

                    1. I have no idea who Mr. Iggers is, this is probably the first review of his that I have ever read.

                    2. Mr. Iggers' knowlegde of brasserie fare as reflected in this review seems to be limited, this is my opinion and it would remain unchanged if the review was written by Oleg Olegson of Olafholm.

                    3. I think having access to what people say behind your (virtual) back is a great tool for anyone who normally receives only limited amount of highly biased feedback (e.g. restaurant critics and owners).

                    1. re: Orik

                      Orik--read thru the thread. The brunt of Michael's criticism (and my partial agreement) wasn't directed at you. Notice that Mr. Iggers was called (among other things) a "twit". That's pretty unnecessarily harsh and personal.

                      But, yes, I did build this site so that the chowhounds could have a forum to air their irreverant opinions. And that applies to restaurant writers as well as restaurant owners.

                      ciao

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        I just wanted to make clear that I had no personal agenda here.

                        And the technical note:

                        while cookies on the manhattan board work well and keep my nick/email from visit to visit, they don't seem to work on this board.

                        1. re: Orik

                          Oh, that WAS clear, I think, Orik!

                          Re: your technical note, we do NO cookies on site anywhere. Look at the thread called "Heading Shortcuts" on our Site Talk board (where technical notes belong, by the way!) for information on filling-in fields.

                          ciao

                    2. re: Michael Penfield
                      g
                      Gregory White

                      I'm sure that other chefs read the sometimes inane reviews that some critics write. If a critic can publicly disrespect the work of myself and other chefs, don't you think we're entitled to some "equal air-time"? Especially when you consider the fact that they rarely call us with questions that they should have asked before they went to print with a review. Add to this the prospect of them either lurking or posting anonymously (and why anonymously?)
                      Regarding your second point, if a person feels that my comments are disrespectful to their culinary experiences, they should realize that my comments are just my opinion, colored by my my own perceptions. It's when someone presents their opinion as being "written in stone" fact, as Mr. Iggers is prone to do, that I have a problem with the job they are doing.

                      1. re: Gregory White

                        Gregory--

                        Looks like you didn't really read my posting. But, to move right along....

                        If a critic called you or one of your fellow chefs a "twit", he'd be way, way out of line. So while I agree that tit for tat is indeed appropriate, twit for tat really is not.

                        ciao

                        1. re: Jim Leff
                          g
                          Gregory White

                          I'm not sure what you mean by not really reading your post. My reply was to Michael Penfield's post. If you consider it worthwhile to the discussion, please let me know. Moving right along, again....
                          I believe the word "twit" in this context refers to him professionally, not personally. I don't think it any more (or less) vitriolic to use this word here than it was for Bourdain to use it in the "question from reporter" thread on the general topics board ("inbred upper-class twits" was, I believe, his exact choice of words). A critic doesn't even have to use such a potentially slanderous word; when they pronounce a dish "awful", it's much the same from a chef's perspective. This isn't even really a "tit-for-tat" thing for me, though; he hasn't yet written a bad review of any restaurant that I've worked at. I do read his reviews, though, and, based on the inside information I have and my own knowledge, I've formed an opinion. For what it's worth, he's probably the best critic in town, but that's a relative thing.

                          1. re: Gregory White

                            "I'm not sure what you mean by not really reading your post. My reply was to Michael Penfield's post"

                            Ah. My confusion stemmed from the fact that you'd replied to me, rather than to Michael.

                            "A critic doesn't even have to use such a potentially slanderous word; when they pronounce a dish "awful", it's much the same from a chef's perspective."

                            The issue is not degree of potential woundedness.

                            If you announced that you consider me a clumsy writer or called my food opinions random and unsavvy, I might be hurt, but your criticism of me would be perfectly reasonable. By contrast, if you were to call me a doodie-brain, or say that you found my mother ugly, I wouldn't be particularly hurt, but your assessment would be way out of line. See the difference?

                            1. re: Gregory White

                              Actually, the best critic in town is Kathie Jenkins at the Pioneer Press. But I digress.

                              What was actually wrong with the review? The food described did indeed seem most unbrasserie-like, the prices high (for Minneapolis, anyway), the product average and the ideas uninspired--even if the guy behind the stove was Paul Bocuse in a wig. I don't think Food & Wine is going to send the critic an airline ticket in the next mail, but his review seemed at least competent.

                              1. re: Pepper

                                There are several things that are wrong with the review:

                                1. Not all of the dishes on the menu are "typical" brasserie dishes, but many of them are - including the sea food platters, the steak frites, steak tartare, onglet and so on. The reviewer, wishing to establish how this place lacks in authenticity, chooses to downplay their presence.

                                2. Describing the place as "mediterranean" just because it serves bouillabaisse and a few provencal dishes is perculiar. But maybe the owner describes it like that in his promos, I dunno.

                                3. the statement "There are no Mediterranean brasseries in Paris" is false, especailly if you think that (2) is what makes a place mediterranean - just venture out of the first few arrondissements and you'll find places that proclaim their brasseriehood while serving anything from no food at all to african fare via the mediterranean.

                                4. I haven't tried "Les Freres", but I don't know how you can overcook short ribs.

                                I didn't find the prices high and I do not think you go to a brasserie seeking inspiration or exciting new ideas, just as you would not go looking for them in a steakhouse or a diner.

                                1. re: Orik

                                  While it is true that in Paris the word ``brasserie'' may often be fairly translated as ``cheap-ass beer bar,'' when an American restaurant calls itself ``brasserie,'' especially Brasserie Zinc, with its deliberate evocation of tradition, it is not unreasonable for a customer to expect choucroute, just as one would expect a place in Paris called Chicago Pizza Pie to serve, y'know, pizza. It is not unreasonable to point this out. Parisian restaurants like Cap Vernet, which have many brasserie trappings (plateaux de mer, grilled fish, beer on tap) but none of the Alsatian specialties generally do not call themselves brasseries--especially if they serve (brrrrr) basil-pistachio pesto.

                                  Even so, the reviewer seemed to like the place, except for a weird sort of mixed grill, the mingy seafood platter and a lousy charcuterie plate. I would venture to say--places with bad seafood platters and charcuterie plates seldom improve when the food is required to be actually cooked--that he was even kind to what is obviously an over-consultanted, under-cheffed restaurant. You can be sure that the restaurant describes itself as a Mediterranean brasserie; the reviewer is basically making fun of the idea.

                                  He may be the worst critic in the western world, but as far as I can tell from this single example, his worst sin is merely dullness.

                                  1. re: Pepper

                                    Question 1: have you eaten at Brasserie Zinc?
                                    Question 2: do you think it's true that Mr. Iggers reads this board and posts anonymously? :-)

                                    Comment: while it might be true that american brasseries normally serve choucroute, the statement made about Parisian brasseries remains untrue.

                                    1. re: Orik

                                      1. I have never eaten in Brasserie Zinc, although I have eaten painful meals in restaurants that sound painfully close to it.

                                      2. If Mr. Iggers does read the board and post anonymously, he doesn't seem to do so very often. It's not exactly the most-trodden board on the site. (Actually, I'm not sure why I've posted so many times on this thread myself.)

                                      3. A place that calls itself Brasserie Zinc, as opposed to, say, Restaurant Marseilles, is setting up very specific expectations. One doesn't necessarily expect a picture-perfect replica of Balzac or Jenny, but it is not unreasonable for a critic to notice the lack of more than a nod in that direction.

                                      I'm not saying that Mr. Iggers is a great critic (or that he's not), just that here at least, he has committed no impeachable offense.

                                      1. re: Pepper

                                        indeed, no impeachment is called for, let us end this thread and go on to more interesting topics such as the whereabouts of good Indian food around here.

                      2. re: Gregory White

                        See the Silver City section in the article linked below

                        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/writing/elpa...

              2. Mpls' tax is 10% - a rip-off indeed! I'll have to try the oysters next time I'm at Zinc. DON'T get the penne pasta, it's horrible.

                1 Reply
                1. re: babushka

                  a correction: minneapolis tax is 1/2 cent higher than the rest of the state. however, there is a further *downtown* tax which applies only to those restaurants (and hotels, etc...) that are within the downtown zone. most restaurants in minneapolis do *not* carry this additiaonl tax.