Zinc, The Restaurant Inside the Shade Hotel, Manhattan Beach

The lobby of the Shade Hotel is well known for having a vibrant bar scene and progressive wine tasting events.  Along with a great bar and wine cellar, Shade also houses an outstanding restaurant: Zinc.  I was extremely fortunate to be apprised of their new menu and sample some of their dishes.

Executive Chef Chris Garasic has definitely raised the bar on their lunch offerings.  It’s my opinion that Zinc can stand on its own with the various best restaurants that LA has to offer.  While their menu lists classic dishes, Chef Garasic uses innovative ways to prepare and display the food.

Caprese salad

Caprese salad.

I first sampled the caprese salad.  I happen to enjoy a good caprese salad and in fact, I like to make it when I have quality ingredients that make it a satisfying experience.  Zinc takes a vine ripened roma tomato, removes the core and adds basil pesto, Di Stefano fresh mozzarella and aged balsamic pearls.  Looking at it, I immediately thought that it was topped with caviar.

Chef Garasic said that they drip balsamic vinegar into chilled olive oil.  Because oil and vinegar doesn’t mix, this creates the pearl balsamic vinegar shapes.  He uses a slotted spoon to remove them from the olive oil.  Depending on the size of the tomato, 3 or 4 are usually served on a dish.

Tower of ceviche with fresh avocado

Tower of ceviche with fresh avocado.

Ceviche is part of my passion for seafood.  Zinc’s Baja Ceviche Tower did not mirror any ceviche I’ve ever experienced before.  Usually softer fish such as halibut or red snapper is used.  To obtain their ‘tower look’, a denser fish must be used.  That day, Chef Garasic selected mahi mahi and combined it with fresh avocado.

Greek Salad with calamari

Greek Salad with calamari.

One of Zinc’s top sellers, their calamari spinach salad was offered.  Unlike a typical Greek spinach salad, Garasic made it unique by adding fried calamari and yellow roasted peppers to the traditional feta and kalamata olives.

Quality bread can really make the difference in a sandwich.  Zinc’s steak sandwich features fresh baked sourdough with slices of tenderloin, roasted peppers and pepperjack cheese with red chili aioli.  Their Tuscan chicken sandwich features artisan ciabatta with a delicious pesto spread.  My favorite was the ginger ahi with Asian slaw and avocado over fresh brioche.

Carne asada tacos (2 on left) Grilled mahi mahi tacos (2 on right)

Carne asada tacos (2 on left) Grilled mahi mahi tacos (2 on right).

The high quality of Zinc’s ingredients were reflected in the Carne Asada and Mahi Mahi tacos. Slices of Mexican spiced tenderloin were topped with queso fresco and a Santa Fe corn relish. The mahi mahi fish was perfectly grilled and was topped with cabbage slaw and fresh guacamole.

Shady Lady and the Bouzy Arnold

Shady Lady and the Bouzy Arnold.

Cocktails are served in innovative ‘iceware’.  Their cups appear to be made out of glass, but after you pick then up, you realize that they are actually made of ice.  They are cleverly mounted so that as the ice melts it drips into the  holder.

The Boozy Arnold is made from peach tea infused vodka with elderflower and fresh lemon juice.  The Shady Lady is made from citrus vodka, pomegranate, honey simple syrup and fresh lemon juice.  I could see myself on a ‘staycation’ sipping these on their Sky Deck one evening.

According to Garasic, food is locally sourced.  In fact, on their menu they feature various greens from Kenter Canyon Farms in Ventura.  In case you haven’t heard of them, Alice Waters sourced her greens for Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley.

Executive Chef Chris Garasic

Executive Chef Chris Garasic

Executive Chef Chris Garasic is extremely personable and does an amazing job at executing ambitious dishes given the size of their kitchen.  In my experience, most hotel restaurants don’t attempt to develop innovative dishes.  Combined with their vision of personal service, I think Zinc definitely warrants a visit.


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