Zula @ Washington Park – 4/19/2013

Zula Restaurant & Wine Bar is located across from Washington Park in the Over The Rhine arts district.  The decor is modern with inspiring local artwork displayed throughout the restaurant.  They specialize in eclectic tapas dishes, seafood, and Mussels.  The wine and craft beer selections are extensive.  Finding the perfect pairing is not a problem at Zula!

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For starters we ordered the Eggplant “Fries” with confectioner sugar and spicy-sour dipping sauce.  They sliced the eggplant into fingerlings and lightly fried them to a crisp.  Wow, this is one of the most creative and delicious eggplant preparations we’ve experienced.  The fries are great alone, or if you want to spice them up the dipping sauce is ultra hot.

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Next up is the Bulgarian Feta Flatbread with purple onions, roasted tomatoes, kalmata olives, and fresh oregano.  This could be enjoyed as a meal by itself as it’s about the size of a medium artesian pizza.  The flatbread is toasted in a wood fired pizza oven in Zula’s open kitchen.

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Finally to round out the starters we have R-seared Scottish Salmon with avocado, scallions, and citrus-basil vinaigrette.  The salmon is just slightly seared to give it a crispy outer shell and warm it through.  It melts in your mouth, so good.

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For the main course we ordered two pots of Mussels.  The first preparation is French Classic Mariniere with white wine shallots, parsley, and garlic.  The second is Funghi with seasonal mushrooms, apple wood smoked bacon, garlic, and cream.  Both pots were savory and steamed just right, hot throughout without being overcooked or chewy.  There’s plenty in each pot and could easily be shared between a party of two or three.  We had to take some home!

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On to dessert!  We ordered up a Chocolate Walnut Kahlua Brownie with caramel gelato and a Lemon Verbena & Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with dried fruit compote.  The Brownie was surprisingly mild and not overly sweet.  Just the right balance between soft, sweet, and crunchy.  The Panna Cotta was out of this world.  Possibly one of the best after dinner desserts we’ve ever had.  It’s almost like a firm gelato, but different.  It was ever so slightly sweet with a thin crunchy marzipan cake beneath.  So good!

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Zula gets a solid 4 out of 5 stars for their amazingly flavor filled small plates, excellent wine and beer selections, and a clean modern decor.  With more than three times the seating of most locations in OTR there shouldn’t be much trouble getting a table, but they do take reservations via Open Table –  a big plus.  The prices are a bit on the high side when compared with other area restaurants.  The restrooms while clean and tidy are shared with other businesses in the building so they’re completely disconnected in terms of Zula’s atmosphere.  Having private restrooms at this level of establishment should be a given.

http://zulabistro.com/

Zula on Urbanspoon

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