Sweet Danish

Bistro Zinc

Given the great garlic-oil dip, we had high hopes for the entrée of pennette with garlic and olive oil, plus artichokes, fresh asparagus, pine nuts, baby peas, and grated Asiago cheese. Unfortunately it turned out to be a study in blandness. The penne was properly al dente, but there was, surprisingly, almost no garlic taste, no cheese taste, and little crisp vegetable presence. The bowl was filled with a big pool of salty broth, which tasted like meat bouillon, though I wouldn't swear to it. Whatever -- it was much too watery for the surface of any sort of pasta, even a ridged penne, to pick up as a flavoring ingredient.

A special of sea bass topped with mushrooms was better. The sizable fillet had been gently sautéed rather than overdone to dryness. The mushrooms turned out to be a very assertive, mushroom-packed reduced brown sauce with the sort of boldness one would normally expect on steak, not fish -- but somehow it worked.

Although entrées come with generous vegetable garnishes (the bass was accompanied by steamed broccoli and a sweetened carrot purée as well as the garlic mashed potatoes mentioned on the menu), eight additional, modestly priced sides also are available, among them "thin sliced fried onions," which I ordered immediately, hoping for crunchy, homemade, thinly sliced, thinly-battered onion strings. And that's what I got: almost greaseless, impossible to eat just one.

Good news: we have a fresh and colorful take on Continental cuisine
Steve Satterwhite
Good news: we have a fresh and colorful take on Continental cuisine

Of the "homemade" desserts, tartufo was nothing like the classic at Tri Scalini in Rome (bittersweet chocolate ice cream with a riot of whipped cream), but would satisfy those who prefer very sweet white and milk chocolate flavors. The mandarin orange sorbet in another dessert actually was imported from Italy -- not homemade and also not refreshingly tart enough for my taste. But the dish was a fun finisher, the sweet sorbet stuffed inside a sugar-glazed, hollowed-out tangerine, accompanied by biscotti and what looked like citrus wedges but turned out to be real orange skins with "pulp" reconstructed from cherry and orange Jell-O ... a little something for the inner child in all of us.

This "Danish/Continental" cuisine was skilled enough in its execution that we can't help wondering: Hey, what about that ribbensteg (Cubans would love it) and those smørrebrød (Aventura ladies who lunch would love 'em)? And, for all Aventura's Jewish retirees, not to mention us retiree wannabes, could a little herring hurt?

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