That’s an interjection in French, like saying Damn! Zut on Fourth is also the name of a restaurant on 4th street in Berkeley, and Damn! it was good tonight.
Zut is in the space that used to be Ginger Island, which we loved, then Ecolo, which we hated. It’s also just around the corner from where our friends Kevin and Dave live, so that’s where we walked for dinner.
The decor of Zut is very French, just like being in a good neighborhood in Paris, all dark wood and bright lights, crystal and leather.
We had a reservation through Opentable and got right to our table–the reservation is strongly recommended, this place is busy. It ended up completely full, and that’s on a Monday, which is the slowest night of the week. Not only are people tired out from the weekend, but Monday is the traditional chef’s night off, so serious gourmets avoid eating out when the second team is working.
Still, it might have been Monday but we had to eat, so off we went.
I started with the radicchio salad:
Lots of salad, not just lettuce. Kevin, not a real big guy, though that it was all he should have ordered. Which didn’t stop him from eating his rotisserie chicken:
Our friends eat very healthy, no white bread, no red meat, little salt. So they thought this dish was over-salted, but I thought their lives are under salted.
The scallops Dave had as an appetizer were cooked perfectly, which is no small art. The chef might have had the night off, but the scallop cook is a star.
I had the trenne, which is a triangular tube pasta, sort of like penne. The dough in the three angles is thicker than the dough in the sides, so it doesn’t all cook evenly, and seems to be underdone, but I decided that was just he edges being more dense. The house-made sausage was very good. A bit spicy for me, yet still excellent. The sauce was just right, both in taste and in quantity–I hate it when I end up with a small amount of pasta in a bowl of sauce; I don’t want spaghetti soup.
Gail had two appetizers for dinner–the lamb meatballs, which come with quite a bit of tomato sauce, and the fingerling potatoes. Gail says “I thought the meatballs were divine.” She started with an excellent Caesar salad and didn’t really need the potatoes, but we liked them in any case.
Coating the potatoes in the extra sauce from the meatballs worked out spectacularly.
Notice how both Gail and Kevin thought they ended up with too much food? You’d think that meant no dessert, but you’d be wrong. We ordered two desserts for the table–an Olive Oil cake with blood orange and whipped creme fraiche, and a dish of vanilla ice cream with brandied cherries.
Olive Oil cake is like a pound cake (so named because the recipe was a pound of butter, a pound of flour, a pound of eggs) with olive oil instead of flour. It doesn’t rise as high and isn’t as sweet, it’s much more dense. The whipped cheme fraiche was quite different–it’s like whipped sour cream and just the thing to complement the cake.
So the building has come full circle–from a place we loved to a place we hated back to a place we, if not love, really, really like. Service was quick and professional, as it must be to keep up with the crowds in a very busy establishment. Prices are quite reasonable. There are outdoor tables with overhead heaters to enjoy the passing parade and make yourself feel even more French. Give Zut on Fourth a try.