The taste of class
Zinfandel restaurant takes up the eastern wing of the Esplanade hotel, opening to a vast terrace with a view of the Central Train station and the King Tomislav square park, with the Art Pavilion in the back, reminiscent of Vienna or Paris.
The recently restored interior kept most of the Art Deco charm, with an impressive crystal chandelier in the center of the room, surrounded by 10 tables that accommodate up to 40 people.
The service at Zinfandel is elegant, probably on the highest possible level in Zagreb, with an enjoyable atmosphere radiating from the staff and the kitchen. The service dynamic is excellent, and the selection of dishes and wines is stunning.
The kitchen is currently and competently run by Ana Grgić, and the menu changes according to the season, with ever-present classics.
Michelin awarded them the green star for Gastronomy and Sustainability, and Gault Millau gave them 4 chef's hats.
What is served
Zinfandel's menu consists of 6 imaginative hot and cold starters, with vegetarian options, snails, scallops, salted trout, chanterelle mushrooms, and a few other French favorites in unexpected combinations of flavor and texture.
The menu offers 2 soups, a bisque, and a consomme in lieu of the modern French cuisine concept.
The single risotto on the menu is fava bean and smoked cod.
The selection of 6 mains focuses on exotic, rare ingredients, like guinea fowl breast sous vide, venison, dentex, and wild sea bass, to create an air of exclusive luxury.
In the classics section, guests are offered fabled Esplanade štrukli, sea bass baked in salt crust, beef tartare, Ceasar's salad, Istrian pasta, and a steak.
The menu ends with four varied desserts, from rosewater panna cotta to an exciting take on Mille Feuille with peanut and tonka and the local classic cornflour and cottage cheese-based zlevanka.
Zinfandel's wine list offers more than 200 wines, mainly originating from Croatia and France, but you can also find a selection of wines from Italy, California, Spain, and Chile.
What our chefs had
We wanted to get the whole experience for our meal at Zinfandel, so we asked for wine pairings.
Amuse bouche was homemade butter, with a selection of warm buns and a cornflour tuna pate tartelette, served on a bed of cornflakes. Mild flavors paired well with Tomac Millennium sparkling wine from the Plešivica region.
Our second course was raw shrimp. Served in a carrot emulsion, with flower powders and thyme, which was on the sweet side, with the sweetness of the prawn meat and the carrot matched with the Cmrečnjak Sauvignon, again from the nearby Plešivica.
The third course was a poached John Dory filet, served on marinated white asparagus with lovage, a culinary herb similar to celery, and a citrus-based sauce. It was paired with a full-bodied white from the island of Brač, Pošip Stina.
For the fourth course, we tried the American sirloin steak served with salted beets, pine nuts, black garlic, and pine oil. The dish was nicely done, with pine oil giving it a touch of freshness among the earthy notes of the beets. It was paired with Korlat Cabernet Sauvignon from Benkovac.
The desserts were nicely done and refreshing. White coconut chocolate with almond milk and milk chips had mild but interesting flavors. The second dessert was a bit more adventurous; it was a chocolate, and strawberry namelaka served with lavender biscuits, lavender gel, and pearls of white chocolate and strawberries.
We had a lemon macaron, a chocolate truffle, a chocolate strawberry, and a black currant nut bar for the petit four.
The food cost 150 euro for two people and another 160 for the wine pairings.