January 30, 2009

Zarzuela - a short sensory trip to Spain

The Spanish word Zarzuela is either a Spanish operetta or musical comedy or a rice and seafood dish. In San Francisco, Zarzuela is a charming Spanish neighborhood restaurant in Russian Hill. Situated at the intersection of Hyde and Union Streets, this restaurant is cheerful, warm, and welcoming. The dining room is decorated with Spanish pottery and bullfighting posters and packed with tables of contented diners.

Food at Zarzuela is authentic, simple, and delicious Spanish cuisine. I enjoyed tradition Tortilla Espanola and goat cheese baked in tomato sauce. Jonathan ate chorizo, grilled calamari, and white bean stew. The meal was accompanied by bread and outstanding spiced olives. Instead of the traditional garlic and herbs, the olives at Zarzuela are seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, and other spices. These flavors, normally associated with sweet dishes and pastries, complement the rich flavor of the olives perfectly. The wine and chocolate dessert were superb too!

In addition to serving and socializing with guests, our waiter also serenaded a young woman celebrating her birthday. During his song the whole dining room paused in the moment to listen – a fitting end to a perfect evening at a neighborhood restaurant. This is a great little restaurant!

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