Occupation: Financial Advisor
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Zaré at Fly Trap
Reviewed Zaré at Fly Trap: Thursday, January 31, 2013
We made a 6:30 reservation, and after a short 10 minute drive, we showed up on time. You must park on the street and this was not a problem for us. We walked into the restaurant, a party of four, and noticed that the place was crowded and loud as happy hour ends at 6:30. The hostess took us right to our waiting table. I did notice that all the tables were occupied. The décor is very warm with wood paneling and mirrors. There is a bar that runs the full length of the room and every seat was taken.
The server came over to get our drink orders and spent time to explain how the specialty drinks were prepared. We ordered three different drinks and we all tried them. We enjoyed all of the drinks but the consensus was that Agave’s Inferno, Zare’s version of a margarita, was the best; although, Anar Daquiri, with the pomegranate and pistachio salt around the rim, and the Pisco Sour were delicious. We enjoyed the cocktails so much that we ordered another round instead of wine (out of the ordinary as I love a nice bottle of wine with dinner).
We decided to share everything. The Trout appetizer with cucumber was very good and refreshing. They prepared the cucumber to look like spaghetti. The trio of Hummus was served with lavash chips (easy to scoop) which I like better than pita. The Eggplant with sundried yogurt was very good but not my favorite appetizer, as I am not a lover of eggplant. The pistachio meatballs are the signature appetizer on the menu. They were coated in pistachio, cooked with mildly spicy Harissa and then served in a pomegranate sauce…delicious! They are prepared perfectly and melt in your mouth. At this point they brought out our main courses. The lamb burger is excellent. It comes with a saffron aioli sauce and French fries done perfectly. The roasted chicken had very distinctive flavors cooked with prosciutto and vegetables in a nice broth. The boneless short ribs were slow cooked and melted in your mouth. It came served on a bed of creamy polenta. This is a rich dish and is perfect for sharing as the portions are large. When we ordered the Lamb shank our server suggested we order a side of lavash with tapenade. She told us to put the tapenade and a piece of the lamb on the lavash, wow! The lamb was prepared to perfection and was served over the vegetables and potatoes. We were all full but ordered two desserts anyway. The Baklava was my favorite. They served the Persian cream between two layers of homemade baklava. The goat cheesecake was also good.
The wait staff was very attentive and they did a great job of explaining the food. As an added touch the Chef/Owner, Hoss Zare, came by to see if we were enjoying our meal.
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Barrio Fiesta Restaurant
Reviewed Zaré at Fly Trap: Saturday, February 2, 2013
“Zare at Flytrap.”
“Zare at what?” my co-worker gave me a second take.
The name gave it a sheer curiosity factor. Walking up, a curved awning, like the kind over old Hollywood hotels, donned the restaurant’s name in script. We walked through the glass double doors. Humor was evident.
“Please use other door,” was the sign on the left pane.
“This is the other door,” it said with Alice-and-Wonderland explicitness.
We began with a Zare signature martini and a glass of prosecco. The martini had a nice presentation with house-made pickles that lent it a slight vinegar finish.
Soup was a parsnip puree. The soup had the perfect weight and was topped with a little bit of cream and Dungeness crab, which added a nice salinity overall.
Our waitress was highly educated and that was a large component of our experience. She even made bone marrow (which was on the menu) sound so tasty and intriguing, adding that there was “a little watercress salad to cleanse the palate before going back for more.”
Yet, despite these great first impressions, in my opinion, a great restaurant has food as king. And that wasn’t the case with Zare. It was like putting so much effort into the introduction of an essay and then losing energy as you go on.
The appetizers — clams and mussels ‘ghalieh mahi’ (a classic Mediterranean broth) were promising as it wasn’t a redundant garlic/butter/wine broth. But sadly, two of my mussels were closed (undercooked) and four of my clams were jut wide open (dead before cooked). If you don’t know seafood: don’t do it. Period.
The lamb shank was decent, but lacked luster, especially for $32. More impressive was the short ribs with lentils that my boyfriend had. I was wishing I had ordered that.
Dessert, however, was a delight. We ordered the baklava, which was purportedly the best in San Francisco. The baklava was deconstructed with ample bits of pistachio and drizzled in sweet cream. We added a little anise ice cream just because we wanted to try it. It was lip smacking sweet and something pleasant to end the evening with.
Some highs and lows, but overall, the tipping-off point was the appetizer. It set a carelessness vibe that I couldn’t shake off. And although the dishes were thoughtful, the tastes were clean, but not particularly illuminating for me.
Occupation: Children’s Book Author
Favorite Restaurant: Flora
Reviewed Zaré at Fly Trap: Thursday, February 7, 2013
The inside of Zaré at Fly Trap is warm and lit dimly in a way I like; the ambience feels well suited to romantic dinners or hatching a conspiracy. Old maps and botanical prints are in frames all around. There’s plenty of dark wood and red, and our table was tucked into a cozy corner.
The menu focuses on Mediterranean dishes with a strong Persian influence. The pistachio meatballs were particularly tasty—savory and tender, sitting in a slightly sweet sauce. The hummus trio was beautifully presented and fun to share. Our waitress brought us a second bowl of the flatbread when we finished the first—such simple and generous gestures go a long way to making guests feel welcome.
The service was excellent. Our waitress gave tantalizing and detailed descriptions of the three “quotes” dishes: “fesenjoon,” “abghoosht,” and “ghormeh sabzi.” The fesenjoon (roasted quail, duck confit) was delicious and filling. It looked and tasted almost kingly. The ghormeh sabzi, (short ribs) were beautifully cooked. The salmon was average and upstaged by its side: perfectly prepared Israeli couscous. The Brussels sprouts were good but the tartar sauce they came with was better.
As for dessert, the goat cheesecake was light and sweet and absolutely delicious. I’m not a huge baklava eater, but I liked Zare’s version quite a bit; an aficionado would go nuts for it, I bet.