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Zealous is spacious and monochromatic, backlit by translucent bays that emphasize the upscale airport lounge look. The flight attendants, in matching gray suits, are obsequious yet slow, presenting with grave earnestness the predinner “amusement,” which fits securely into a turbulence-resistant tray tabletop. The menu jets from cuisine to cuisine with alarming speed. Our attendant described the flight path as “herbaceous global American, with Japanese, Indian, and southwestern accents.” It’s dizzying, curious, and, ultimately, silly. –Leah Eskin
Grilled Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Spicy Lobster Toast & Roasted Pineapple Vinaigrette Perhaps foie gras, subtle and complex on its own, enjoys the companionship of the little chunk of lobster lounging plate left. But buttering brioche, layering it with lobster, then frying the whole stack into Asian French toast–no.
Free-Range Virginia Lamb Loin Paprikas with Roasted Spaghetti Squash Pirogis & Pickled Red Cabbage Sweet mild lamb sliced and fanned over a collection of eastern European comrades, who are too sour and pickled to appreciate its grace.
Grilled Squab Breast with Preserved Artichoke Mooshu & Warm Bacon Ponzu Even a disciple of Charlie Trotter has got to be kidding, right?
Masala-Rubbed Venison Tenderloin with Salsify & Paneer Strudel in a Fragrant Quince Sauce Venison, tender, almost like liver, and beautifully grilled. Served next to and over a flaky strudel-wrapped spinach and paneer, known outside Indian menus as “cheese.”
After dinner the cabin steward announced, with overwrought formality, “Your Ode to Vahlrona, sir.” Each wisp of complicated chocolate confection was tasty. I’d have stripped away the clutter–from huckleberry ice cream to banana samosa–and simply served the chocolate-orange souffle. In a large bowl. Garnished with a spoon.
Zealous, 419 W. Superior, is open 5:30 to 10:30 PM Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday. For reservations call 312-475-9112.