Zimzala Restaurant and Bar – Deliciously Free-Spirited
Huntington Beach is home to the swanky boutique hotel, The Shorebreak Hotel. A delightful place to relax and revive for stay-cay locals and worldwide travelers alike, The Shorebreak Hotel is just steps from the beach.
On a recent visit, I had the pleasure of dining at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Zimzala Restaurant and Bar, which represents everything free-spirited and that “sand between the toes” feeling which I will call “whimsical”. Helmed by Executive Chef Brian Drosenos, Zimzala offers much more than just “comfortable California cuisine”. Chef Drosenos brings a rich and flavorful culinary history to Zimzala having earned his chops at restaurants such as LA Live’s JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, Noble House and The Ventana Inn and Spa. When I asked Chef what Zimzala-like element he brought to the menu, he replied, “I enjoy a free-spirited presentation of the foods.” Yet, I found the dishes themselves to be of equally delicious, creative whimsy.
For starters, a soup of roasted cauliflower with crispy Brussels, finely chopped Marcona almonds, golden raisins, and focaccia croutons was presented in an artful white bowl. And, when served, a whimsical swirl of lemon oil graced the top to add that perk of tartness that pleases the palate. Make this delicious soup at home, view my version of the recipe here: Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Quite possibly my favorite dish of the day was the Marinated Pepper Salad which was a finely chopped array of yumminess of marinated baby bell peppers, kale tossed with roasted pistachios, roasted garlic, feta cheese and a sherry vinaigrette. Refreshing and light, I could eat this salad everyday as it is not only delicious, it is filled with food healing ingredients – bell peppers, kale, garlic, and pistachios.
Have you ever had charred octopus? Neither had I. Giving way to that Zimzala “sand between the toes” whimsical experience, the whimsy here was not only enjoyed in Chef’s presentation but in the food, too! Chef Drosenos explained the baby octopus is braised first and then charred with paprika giving it a tenderness that is not often found when eating octopus. The char totally works in this earthy dish that gets another flavor boost from espilite chili peppers from Spain, smoked potatoes, kalamata olives, lightly fried capers, and a housemade romesco sauce that has nuts, olive oil and sherry vinegar. Smokey is the flavor here as the peppers from Spain are naturally smokey and the potatoes are smoked. I give this dish a smoking hot two bikinis up for the whimsy alone… the flavor, a bonus.
You would think I would be full by now and on most days I would but today’s tasting menu had me curious so I continued with the Porcini Mushroom Spaghetti. House made spaghetti noodles get their porcini-ness from porcini powder. I must get some. Then, the noodles are cooked al dente and tossed with an incredible medley of mushrooms that include brown beech and pink trumpet – I love everything pink. Also in the mix, a medley of herbs among them chervil, chives, tarragon, and dill. Finish with fresh lemon, grana padano, and a cured egg yolk, Chef fully got his whimsy on here.
Being a ocean view restaurant, fish is an integral part of the menu. I was delighted when salmon arrived. Pan Roasted Salmon with eggplant purée, bloomsdale spinach, roasted fennel, roasted tomato, and black olive caramel made with burnt sugar. Wow! That pretty much sums it up.
Now, normally I would skip dessert but the Chef insisted by surprising me – and the other guests – with a Persimmon Panna Cotta. The highlighted ingredient, persimmon, was served with an abundance of flavors and textures. Date and walnut bread whipped cream. Toasted pepitas and pecans. A hint of micro basil completed the dish and what a whimsically divine dining experience.
To say Chef Drosenos’ cuisine and Zimzala was a surprisingly palate pleasing experience is an understatement. Although I have been a fan of The Shorebreak Hotel since it opened, I had never had the pleasure of dining at their premiere restaurant. I half anticipated just another beachy restaurant experience which is not all bad but not whimsically amazing. To my surprise, Zimzala, under the direction of Chef Drosenos, is far better and beyond being a beachy restaurant. Producing high quality, delicious food that is artfully presented in a free-spirited style, Chef Drosenos brings a bit of gourmand and then some.
In Huntington Beach and SO Cal, make Zimzala a “must dine” location. Visiting? Worth the stop!
Bottom line for your bikini: 2 bikinis up!
Zimzala Restaurant and Bar
The Shorebreak Hotel – a Joie de Vivre Hotel
500 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648