Zak's Cafe, 231 S. 2nd St., is new and a bit off the beaten track, but I predict that it won't be long before it's hard to get a table there.
Following a day of shopping, we showed up in early evening at this bistro-style eatery, located in a newly renovated Walker's Point building. I opted for a pair of appetizers instead of an entrée. The mix and match "slider" flight offered me a choice of three mini-sandwiches. The burger featured lean ground beef topped with apple-wood smoked bacon and rich cheddar cheese. Pulled BBQ pork was topped with cheddar cheese as well as crispy fried onions. The standout was the seared ahi tuna with arugula, caper remoulade and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Not bad for $9!
Next time I may mix it up and check out the orphan of the selection – a Cubano slider, featuring smoked ham, pulled Cuban pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickle.
The sandwiches proved so filling that I barely touched my salad. However, the combination of fresh slices of pear and Maytag blue cheese, arugula and candied walnuts drizzled with a light vinaigrette was not wasted. It held up quite well, and served as an excellent lunch the next day.
My dining partners were all in the mood for fish, and since it was Friday, most of the seafood dishes were on special. The Friday night fish fry for $12.95 featured three large pieces of cod (perch is another option), coated in a light beer batter and served with choice of French fries or potato pancake. The fries succeeded better than the slightly greasy pancake. A side of cole slaw, usually a nod to veggies, stood on its own. The creamy sauce was used sparingly and had a bit of a kick. I could have eaten an order as my entrée.
There also is the option of getting a combo platter featuring beer-battered cod, perch and shrimp served with baked potato for two bucks more.
One of us opted for the healthier, but no less delicious rainbow trout. Lightly breaded and pan-seared, it featured a light and refreshing lemon parsley burre blanc and steamed broccoli for $14.95.
For meat eaters there are a variety of options, including steaks and chops, all served with a choice of cabernet demi-glaze or green peppercorn sauce. Meat entrées range in price from $12 to $20. Vegetarians aren't left out – there are roasted veggie dishes as well as a number of pasta options.
Whatever you do, save room for dessert. While the cakes are not made on premises, they are made by hand. The carrot cake is among the best I've ever eaten, while the red velvet was far moister than many versions I've sampled. Whatever you order, get it with artisan ice cream, sourced from a nearby vendor. On the night of our visit one of the flavor options was peppermint candy cane. All I can say is that if that ice cream were a man, my husband would be in trouble.
Zak's serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast menu is available until 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with brunch served from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.
The brunch/breakfast menu intrigued me with such tempting dishes as two varieties of breakfast burritos, brioche French toast and four varieties of eggs Benedict, including one with lobster and another with king crab.
For more information, call 414-271-5555 or go to www.zaksdeli.com.