Sophisticated wine bar Zino offers tasty dishes on par with its wide drink selection. Writer Joanna Mayhew and photographer Lucas Veuve sample the varied fare.
Wine takes centre stage at Zino, with more than 170 bottles on offer and one of the capital’s most impressive ranges of wines by the glass. The venue’s large bar is appropriately prominent in the calm, lounge-like space, and made all the more inviting by perfectly placed lighting and soothing jazz.
But the restaurant’s expansive Mediterranean-themed menu offers more than palate-clearing snacks, and deserves attention, with or without the drink of the gods. Topping house favourites are the large sharing plates, such as the charcuterie platter ($11) and cheese platter ($9.50 to $13.50), with brie, livarot, comte, roquefort and camembert. The eatery’s large selection of pasta, from angel hair with tiger prawns ($8) to seafood lasagne ($8), is also popular.
At lunch, set menus include a starter, main course and tea or coffee ($9). On a recent visit, the just-right-sized artichoke salad starter incorporated tomatoes and chickpeas topped with sprouts and a healthy portion of artichokes, soaked in a sharp vinaigrette that contrasted nicely with the light veggies, and served with slivers of pesto-topped toast. The main dish, grouper skewers with vegetable-stuffed tomatoes, featured parma ham-wrapped cubes of light fish. While flavours balanced nicely, the onion sauce was overly salty, and the grouper slightly overcooked.
Veering off the set menu, the beef burger ($7) exceeded expectations. Just greasy enough, the thick patty was topped with a thin layer of grilled onions, along with brie and bacon. Accompanied by a handful of crispy potato wedges, the toasted bun and thick-cut tomatoes worked well, adding a welcome crunch and offsetting the soft cheese.
Further indulging, the picturesque tiramisu ($7.50) was served in layers of chocolate and vanilla, coated with a thick sprinkling of cacao powder, and topped with chocolate-dipped biscuit sticks. While lacking overall coffee or Kahlua flavour, the pudding-like offering was nonetheless moreish, with moist ladyfingers tucked amidst the cool layers, alongside thick chocolate sauce.
Opened in 2013, Zino has so far shown sticking power. Its classic décor features drape curtains, comfortable fabric-lined chairs and taupe-coloured walls, with portions of exposed brick and rows of wine bottles showcased in glass.
But the space remains more of an evening favourite; at lunch, it sat mostly empty. That should at least change on weekends. On Saturdays, Zino offers $3 glasses of sparkling and specials on fin de claire oysters ($1.50/each or $8/6). Diners can choose between Kilpatrick-style cooked oysters, or fresh oysters with Argentinian Chimichurri salsa or a spicy Koh Kong sauce, made of chilli, fish sauce and garlic shallots. Weekend brunch is also offered, with standard fare such as eggs benedict and crepes ($3 to $7).
Throughout the week, happy hour runs from 4pm to 7pm. But specials aside, with bottles ranging from $18 to $170, Zino seems to have a wine – as well as a main – for everyone.