“I regret not photographing that dish.” I texted to last night’s dinner date. “I actually thought about suggesting it, but figured you’d do it if you wanted. That and I think you told me to shut up.” he responded.
Bar Zin is a standard on the South end of the island. I have enjoyed many meals there, none of which particularly stood out in any direction. Wait, insert a little bit of whining about the horrendous charcuterie I ordered there a few months back that haunted me for weeks. Moving on. Several weeks ago as I was searching my usual #ameliaisland when I stumbled across a post noting that Bar Zin had a new chef and a new menu. I filed the information away in the “To Do” category and continued sifting through sunset shots and beach selfies.
Now, I have to take a moment to give full credit to my better half because 1) He made the decision to stay when the restaurant looked very crowded. 2)He sent me a text that said, QUOTE. Not that I’m seeking credit, but I do recall making the decision on that one. I’m just saying. No me+no sweet potato puree. END QUOTE. Clearly he was seeking credit so consider this paragraph acknowledgement that he is to thank for the meal that I am about to describe.
The entire menu was impressive. I will start with that. It is a rare occasion that I look at a menu and want to try every single dish but that is exactly what happened last night. Every dish on that menu was unique, creative, yet paired ingredients in a way that subtly paid tribute to classic comfort foods. And the food lived up to the impressive descriptions. The meal began with BBQ oysters smothered in a cheese topping that could have easily overpowered the oyster flavor but was so well-balanced that every ingredient held its own without compromise. The only complaint, which really is not a true complaint but more of a note, that I have regarding this appetizer is that they serve 5 and it seems like they should serve an even number. The presentation with each oyster on a small bed of sea salt was beautiful.
Now, grab a glass of wine (I suggest the delicious David Phinney red that accompanied my meal last night) and make yourself comfortable for the description of my main dish. Duck meatloaf. This is where I will begin. I love duck but many restaurants just do not prepare it well. Le Clos, the French restaurant located just off of Centre Street downtown, serves my previously favorite duck but Bar Zin knocked them out of their reigning position last night. The duck meatloaf was perfectly prepared and served on top of a vanilla sweet potato puree. Roasted brussel sprouts and carrots with a sprinkle of various greens accompanied the main event with a demi-glace tying all of the various flavors together into a dish that I can only describe as magical. Not only were the flavors perfection, the presentation was gorgeous. The colors and textures of the various ingredients were rich and earthy and warm. When the waitress placed the dish in front of me and my dinner date began commenting on said dish, I may have told him to shut up so that I could take in all of the goodness without interruption. Possibly.
In the past, Bar Zin was a restaurant that I enjoyed but was certainly not noteworthy in any direction. That is no longer the case. This chef deserves attention for his talent and I highly recommend that everyone go try the new menu immediately. I woke up in the middle of the night last night, thinking of the sweet potato puree. I thought about the dish as I drank my coffee this morning, wondering if it would be weird to go back and order the same thing again tonight. It was that good. Bar Zin has just moved to the top of my Amelia Island restaurant recommendations. This restaurant is located on the South end of Amelia Island at 4924 First Coast Highway. I suggest calling ahead for a reservation as the island is entering busy season. 904.310.6620
Note: If you visit the Bar Zin website, it has not yet been updated with the new menu.
Additional Note: Apologies to my other half for telling him to shut up mid-sentence. But in my defense, the dish was REALLY pretty.