If you asked us 2 months ago what we were most upset to leave behind in DC, we would have told you the proximity to talented chefs and amazing date nights. We would reassure ourselves that a mere 45 minute drive would land us on the doorstep of a trendy restaurant in Buffalo or Rochester, and that we would be able to get away for Date Night whenever we needed a night in the city. Now, we are pleased to report that a mere 5 minute escape from the farm will put us on the doorstep of Zambistro in Medina, NY, and we can have an amazing evening right in our hometown.
Zambistro is the brainchild of Executive Chef Michael Zambito, a long-time friend of the family and fellow graduate of Medina High. Having spent time learning his craft at the Culinary Institute of America, he returned to gift his talents to our small town, though the reputation of Zambistro is now felt all over the region. Though we happened to visit on his night off, the kitchen was in extremely capable hands with Sous Chef Joshua Bowman, who delighted us throughout the entire meal. It is always a testament to the level of a restaurant when all hands on deck are able to maintain the consistency and quality every night, regardless of who is leading the charge.
Of course we started with a glass of wine, but also sampled the housemade Blood Orange Sangria, which will be our first choice next time. But the thrill of the meal began with a Chef’s Course, an original creation by Bowman: a Pan-Seared Polenta Cake – SWOON. I’d like to see that on the menu every night, or at least whenever we visit. I’d order ten. Or ask for an exceptionally giant version. Either way, perhaps the best bite we’ve had since we moved to New York.
After asking for some suggestions on Facebook, we decided to start with the Tuna Package (panko crusted yellow fin tuna, rare) which is far more up Scott’s alley, as I tend to shy from raw fish (read: I’m not your ideal sushi date). However, it should also be noted that I ate at least half of the dish, and would order it again in a heartbeat. Either I’m growing up, or it was just that good. I’ll go with the latter.
We had to try the soup which was also recommended to us, and while I enjoyed the French Onion, Scott took down the entire bowl of the Seafood Bisque. Both were excellent, and we look forward to lunch dates in the future with soup and salad while the snow flies outside. Sorry, WNY, I just mentioned snow…. #sorrynotsorry
Our entrees consisted of the Chicken Cutlet (also recommended to us, thank you!) and the Sea Bass (not on the menu this fall) – both plated beautifully and just as delicious. However, we were distracted by our side order of the Spinach Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese which we devoured, and the carbs thwarted our attempt to clean our plates. Though the prices are somewhat on the “city” side of our palette, we can’t argue with the quantity or the quality, both of which you’d expect to find downtown in a larger city. And thankfully I was able to take my leftovers home which made for a very satisfying lunch the following day.
We never leave without trying dessert (Scott’s date rule-of-thumb), so we were delighted to try the Port Wine and Pear Sorbet – light, fresh, and perfect following a comfort meal. TIP: we’ve heard gossip that a Mulled Apple Cider Sorbet has replaced this dessert, which will prompt a quick return.
Perhaps one of the most satisfying things about our experience came from the table next to us: a lovely couple from Albion who frequent Zambistro weekly. The woman explained that she travels all over the country for work, and is fortunate to eat at some of the trendiest and most popular restaurants in every city. However, she said she always waits to come home to have a meal at this local favorite, as it far exceeds the meals she has away. What an incredible compliment! She recommended several other dishes to us, and we are excited to take her tips on our next date to this hometown gem.
So moral of the story: amazing date nights and talented chefs can be found everywhere. Lesson learned.
Zambistro • 408 Main Street • Medina, New York 14103