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Omaha Magazine

Meal & Matinees: Zinc Omaha

Dec 27, 2022 08:21AM ● By Tamsen Butler
Zinc’s Burger de Maestro

Zinc’s Burger de Maestro features a grilled chuck patty complimented with jalapeño bacon jam, a cluster of cheddar cheese curds, and a spread of beer cheese between toasted pretzel buns.

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

Blink and you could easily miss it–Zinc Omaha, a small fine dining restaurant in the Holland Performing Arts Center, that's only open concurrent with Holland performances and offers a seasonal menu. When my husband and I visited, the restaurant had just switched to their autumn dishes, and their dessert offerings were enough to make me revel in the season. 

You can find Zinc across from the Ovations bar in the lobby of the Holland. On a recent Saturday, I made an afternoon reservation, and we were seated promptly upon arrival. A runner brought us ciabatta rolls, water, and an impressive trio of butters for our bread. The generous helpings included regular, cranberry and chive, and a lemon herb butter that made me lament the fact that I didn’t have more rolls on which to slather the tasty spread.

As we ate our buttered rolls, I noticed the chef walking about, asking the people around us what they thought of their meals. Their responses varied from praising the salmon to the French fries, with one person even applauding the server. Everything I heard was positive—and I could hear it all. 

A ramekin bursting with fresh chèvre, garlic orange marmalade, pepitas, and fresh thyme compose Zinc’s Baked Goat Cheese appetizer.

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.


The way the dining room is set up, there’s no noise buffer. And while the space is quite pretty, with glass walls providing pleasant views of the Holland’s courtyard, patrons' voices reverberated throughout the room. Two women seated behind me became progressively louder as the drink in their wine bottle dwindled, and I learned far more about the other diners than I probably should have.

I glanced at my watch and realized about 20 minutes had passed since we received our bread and water. The sole server wandered around the room, checking in on guests' experience, but didn’t stop by our table. We couldn’t catch her attention, and to be fair, we were seated behind a pillar, so she may not have realized we were there.

After 30 minutes had passed, my husband flagged down the hostess and asked her to please send our server to the table. Instead, the apologetic hostess took our meal order, and it wasn’t long before our server appeared with our appetizer—goat cheese covered in orange marmalade with fresh thyme accompanied by crostini. She apologized for the confusion and remained available and personable for the duration of our meal.

The appetizer was well worth the wait. The tartness of the cheese was nicely complemented by the sweetness of the orange marmalade, and a pairing of crusty bread provided the perfect canvas for spreading the savory and sweet combination.

My husband ordered the Burger der Maestro, a grilled chuck patty smothered in jalapeño bacon jam, beer cheese spread, and cheese curd on a toasted pretzel bun. He commented that the sauces were delicious, and he delighted in the flame-grilled flavor of the patty. He likewise praised the fries that accompanied the burger, particularly the peppery seasoning.

This seasoning must be a chef specialty, because the grilled chicken atop my mac & cheese had a pleasant, peppery taste. This far-too-big-a-portion-for-one-person serving featured smoked gouda cheese sauce and elbow macaroni with a toasted breadcrumb topping. As far as high-end macaroni and cheese goes, the dish was a winner. I took home my leftovers to my teenage son, who took one bite and deemed it “banging” (or something to that effect).

A medley of roasted butternut squash, crisp Brussel sprouts, and roasted tomato intermingle with cheese-stuffed tortellini, extra virgin olive oil, and pecorino-romano cheese in Zinc’s Tortellini dish.

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.


Zinc’s seasonal dessert menu was packed with the classic flavors of autumn. We settled on the apple spice cake—an impressive assemblage of circular spice cake pieces sandwiched between mascarpone frosting and roasted apple chutney. A scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side proved the perfect accompaniment to the cake. The presentation was appealing, and the taste was everything a fall dessert should be—packed with warm spices and not overly sweet.

The chef visited us after the meal to ensure we enjoyed everything, and our server comped the dessert on our tab in light of the initial delay. Other than the long stretch waiting at the beginning of our visit, we found the staff to be amicable and highly attentive. 

The menu isn’t extensive, but beyond their standard fare there are options for both vegetarian and gluten-free diners. There is a nice variety of entrées from which to choose. A tad pricey, but the presentation and taste—along with the proximity to upscale entertainment—justifies the cost.
Though we didn’t catch a show that day, I imagine a visit to Zinc in tandem with attending a show would make for a near-perfect Omaha afternoon (or evening). The next time we're at the Holland, we’ll be sure to tack on a reservation at Zinc. 

Visit o-pa.org/our-venues/Dining-at-the-Holland  for more information.

A dollop of vanilla ice cream cozies up to spiced roasted apple layered by mascarpone frosting in Zinc’s Apple Spice Cake dessert.

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

 

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  
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