Zeal, Marietta GA

This is Marie, contributing an article about Zeal Modern Eatery. I had been invited to join some friends there for an evening meet-up and menu sampling, and really enjoyed the place. Sadly, it was raining so I did not take photos of the exterior, but it’s in the end of a strip mall so a) easy to find and b) looks much like any other store. The interior is pretty, though, with the bar area separated from the tables so if you care to watch the widescreen with a drink you won’t be given stinkeye by people trying to have dinner.

We started out with cocktails. Although I don’t usually drink, I am making an determined effort to find something that works for me. The Moscow Mule, with its strong ginger flavor, seemed like a good opportunity. It came in this lovely copper mug and the ginger beer came from Fever Tree. As an aside, I know the brand is designed for mixers but perhaps one day I will get hold of a bottle and just drink the ginger beer on its own and see how it contrasts.

The big win for the evening came really early, with the duck poutine. The fries are nice and thick, able to carry the gravy in the duck confit without getting too soggy. It’s wonderfully flavorful and just exactly what’s needed for a rainy dark evening. If you like duck, which I certainly do, it’s just marvelous. If you think you don’t like duck, try this – it’s just different enough you might change your mind, and definitely qualifies as comfort food. We also had the chicken lollipops which i thought were OK, and fried green tomatoes which Grant would have loved. The goat cheese was nicely creamy and not too goaty, and the tomatoes had a crisp but not crunchy crust to them.

I took the “airline” chicken as my entree, which is a bone-in cut of chicken that is still relatively easy to cut up because the bone isn’t attached to ribs. It gets the name because the airlines, back when air travel was luxurious and special, would use this cut because it gives more flavor to the meat, much like bone-in steak does. It came with a generously sized bed of potatoes and some sweet peach chutney. It was pleasant, with a mild and satisfying flavor.

We also shared one of the small plates, the pistachio lamb loin. On first bite I wished I’d gotten that as my entree, which was a bit unfair to the chicken. The lamb is perfectly portioned for sharing, but also nicely sized for a smaller appetite (though you’ll want a salad or appetizer with it). I suppose it will have to wait for a return visit. The couscous melted in my mouth, the lamb was beautifully tender, and the pistachios added a nice crunch. The chef came out to chat with us and admitted that was one of her favorites, and the love really shows.

Sadly, despite my best efforts, every photo I took of the desserts was completely unusable. I will not spoil your appetite with the dreadful images that decanted from our camera. The white chocolate truffle cheesecake got the overall table vote for best of the bunch. It was perfectly creamy and not excessively sweet. The blueberry lemon cake was quite nice and very generously sized, though I would have liked a little more lemon zing to it. Others liked it more than I did. The mini pie jars were mixed. I enjoyed the strawberry pie, the coconut cream was pleasant, and I didn’t try the other.

Overall I enjoyed my visit. Everything was good, and some of the items were really special. However, be aware that some things on the menu may change, as they get seasonally fresh produce and could do things a little differently on your next visit.

(As noted, this was a media event and our meal was complimentary. It’s our policy to always note when we’ve received our meal without charge. If you would like to invite us to your restaurant’s media events, please drop Grant a line at gmslegion@gmail.com .)

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