Ostrich Comes to Las Olas

A terrinelike slice of salmon baked in pastry was somewhat more successful. An arresting presentation, the pink fish was rolled in tender golden pastry and stuffed with a vibrant emerald puree of spinach, with a lime-yogurt hollandaise sauce served underneath. Though the twin sparks of spinach and sauce made up for the fact that the fish was slightly overdone, the citrus theme was carried over the top by a too-powerful mound of lemon-pepper linguine. Toned down, this would have been a lovely accent.

Smoked trout glazed with a wonderful port wine sauce was served over fettuccine as the pasta of the day, which was also available as an appetizer. Caramelized onions and sauteed apples added to the sweetness of the port, nicely balancing the potency of the succulent trout. We were glad to have ordered this rich dish as a starter; a main-course portion might have been unconquerable. A "Kilimanjaro baked-brie volcano" sounded equally intimidating but turned out to be a gentle layering of pastry dough and melted brie, the volcano hiding a center of candied walnuts ($12.00). Peach preserve "lava" oozed appropriately down this miniature mountain.

When we placed our orders, we didn't realize that salads came with so many entrees, rendering our choice of a salad appetizer somewhat redundant. Then again, if we hadn't ordered it, we'd have missed our chance to try biltong, dried jerky made from ostrich meat or beef. ZanZbar minces the beef version of this popular and pungent South African snack food and dusts it over the lettuce. The salad was nicely counterpointed by a bowl of chilled soup of fresh peas and cucumber, simultaneously sweet and coolly fresh ($4.00). Though I'm generally not a fan of cold soups other than gazpacho, this one won me over as much as the wildebeest cake.

Diehard Dade County diners should be aware that Fort Lauderdale is far more than our staid neighbor to the north. Thanks in no small part to zanZbar, Las Olas is finally acquiring an edge.

Side Dish
I'm used to new restaurants opening weeks after they say they will. In this business, delays are inevitable. But South Beach's China Grill, the "World Cuisine" specialist highlighted last week in this column, is the first restaurant I've encountered to pop the pilot light before the scheduled date. Slated to "preview" the main restaurant and host private parties in October before debuting its cafe in November and its entire space in December, China Grill began offering its full menu to the public in the main dining room several weeks ago. So don't do as I did and expect the World for Christmas. It's already here, serving dinner at 404 Washington Ave. Call 534-2211 for reservations.

zanZbar 602 E Las Olas Blvd, Ft Lauderdale; 767-3377. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to midnight; Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.; Saturday, noon to 2:00 a.m.; and Sunday, noon to midnight.

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