My husband has been raving about Zarza since the moment he stumbled across it many many months ago. He is always telling me how much he wants to take me there for Paella some time, and I have glanced at the menu online a time or two and would gladly go with him any time! Problem is...we live in Simpsonville and we have 3 kids under the age of 7. The opportunity to have a dinner date is rare, let alone one that requires round trip travel over 1.5 hours. So when the Scene on 7 Dinner Club announced its October location was Zarza, he did not hesitate to immediately make reservations. In fact, I'm pretty sure we were #1 on that list! A few days later he decided to tell me about our plans and then he proceeded to call his mother and tell her she was getting the kids that night (no asking...just, "here, take my kids!"). That is how excited he was about this opportunity.
The location is something they have struggled with, being about 2 blocks off of Main Street in Spartanburg. If you don't know they are there, they are going to be hard to find. But I urge you...please, please, please google them, bing map them, GPS them...whatever you need to do to find them and get there, do it! You will not be disappointed.
For the Scene on 7 Dinner Club we had the option of a wine pairing with each course of our dinner for $15. A good value at $5 a glass for some premium wines. We, however, chose to order the Zarza Sangria. They make their own fresh on the spot and it is fantastic. Not too sweet, refreshing and even a bit tropical to the taste buds. I highly recommend this.
As for starters, our options were calamari and smoked salmon. The Hubby ordered one, I ordered the other and we shared. Both were phenominal. A light, airy batter on the calamari and perfectly cooked. Not fishy tasting and not rubbery. Served with a lemon aioli sauce for dipping, it was a real treat.
The smoked salmon is made in-house and again, perfectly executed. Served with toast, mascarpone cheese, red onion, capers and hard-cooked egg, the combinations of flavors was amazing. A very fun and very tasty appetizer.
For our entree, we could have chosen Mahi Mahi or Churassco Steak,
however we had our hearts set on the Paella Valenciana for 2. It is a
30-minute wait for this dish, but well worth it. Most of the prep takes
place in the kitchen, but they bring it out table-side and finish it off
with some olive oil and toss it all together. Saffron rice, chicken,
pork, calamari, baby scallops, mussels, shrimp and vegetables all work
together in this amazing dish. The flavors are incredible and you get
enough food to feed an army. Paella for 2, by my estimation, was about 6
servings for us in the end. They do offer other Paella options such as
seafood only, chicken only and vegetarian so if you're not up for all
that was included in the Valenciana version, don't let that scare you.
Please...go to Zarza...go right now...and order this. Your taste buds
will thank you.
For dessert we again had two options. The Hubby went with the Blackberry Creme Brulee. It was absolutely beautiful in presentation with fresh berries and an amazing sugar-crisp crust. The taste was great as well.
I opted for the Beinmesabe (which literally means, "It tastes good to me!"). This is sponge cake and coconut cream combination that is probably one of the best restaurant desserts I have ever had. The cake was light and airy, the cream was sweet enough without being over powering and the toasted coconut on top was a nice addition of some texture. Not sure how big the pan is that they make this in, but I guarantee you I could (and would!) sit down with a fork and eat the entire thing.
By now you can presume that I absolutely recommend Zarza. Fantastic ambiance, fantastic food, excellent service...I cannot think of one reason you shouldn't go there for your next meal out. Don't forget, we were there with the Scene on 7 Dinner club and as always, the Scene on 7 crew were mingling with all of the diners and making folks feel welcome. We have our hunch as to where we think the next Dinner Club location will be, but no matter where, we will be there. We hope to see you there too!