"It was maybe my fourth or fifth time at the Zig Zag Café before I ever ventured beyond the bar and sat at an actual table. I'd stood, with friends, outside the front door like a schlub waiting for the place to open, like a petitioner at the gates of a highly selective church. We'd watched the crowds grow and the line stretch across the little wedge of cement that makes up the landing on which Zig Zag sits, trying not to look like we were peeking through the curtains hung over the front door or craning our necks to see in through the unbolted patio doors.
When we saw a hand snaking around the drape to unlock the door, everyone shifted as though getting into sprint positions, but it was a false alarm: a cook coming out, not yet ready to let the faithful in. There was grumbling. There were threats to just go next door to the Mexican restaurant with the big patio, umbrellas and the wide-open door.
But no one did.
When, finally, the hostess popped the lock and opened the door, everyone went through in a rush. Though the three of us that were there, waiting, were only a couple parties back, the bar filled up like that--one second, empty, the next, every seat taken. It was a Friday and, apparently, on Fridays this is just how things go at the Zig Zag Café. If you're really dying for a tall stool at the curving bar you've got to camp out like a fat kid waiting on a Star Wars premiere."
From this week's review of Zig Zag Cafe and Tavern LawThis week, I decided to hit two places known more for their booze than their food: Zig Zag Cafe and Tavern Law. Both are already well-loved for the things they do with whiskey, vodka, bitters and soda. Both have crews working the bar that are like high-flying alcoholic archaeologists, digging up dead and forgotten cocktails and bringing them back to life in this modern age. One half Indiana Jones, one half Dr. Frankenstein, they are living proof that a love of history and a love of gin can sometimes equal one pretty excellent career.
But I was more interested in the food that comes from these kitchens than the drinks that come from the bar. So I visited both places with the express purpose of seeing whether or not the kitchen crews were as talented as the bartenders and whether the food menus could hold a candle to the cocktail lists.
You'll have to tune in tomorrow to see what I found...