Of Short Ribs, Cheese and Honey at Zelko Bistro

The "problem" with being a loyal fan of any restaurant is that each visit is laden with high expectations based on a history of good experiences. For me, such is the case with Zelko Bistro, site of many successful dinners with friends, festive feasts, and tête-à-têtes with my friend Maggie.

In the course of my dining relationship with Zelko, I've tried and enjoyed many things on the menu. My favorites include the Captin's Chicken (though I always sub in the polenta for the Yukon mash), the Boss Burger, whose warm eggy brioche bun almost eclipses the succulent beef patty it sandwiches, and the Chopped Bleu Salad, a delightfully sloppy, crunchy mixture of romaine, blue cheese, apples, pecans, red onion, and bacon.

This past weekend, however, I eschewed custom for innovation by trying two new (to me) plates at Zelko, where my friends and I found ourselves once again celebrating the birthday of one of our coterie. More specifically, I squelched my temptation to order a very rare Boss burger and then douse it in ketchup and mayonnaise in favor of trying the St. Arnold's short ribs.

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A root beer braise gave the short ribs a slightly sweet flavor that was balanced by darker, richer bovine notes. The texture was just a tad tougher than I would have liked, as the ribs were only easily separable from the bone rather than "falling off." A side of spritely sauteed greens and Zelko's show-stopping butter-cheese polenta more than made up for the tenderness issue.

And while, with regards to my starter, I did succumb to tradition by ordering the Chopped Bleu, I still managed to go off my beaten path a bit thanks to my companions' order of the cheese plate. Almost as impressive as the assortment of hard and soft, pungent and mild locally-sourced cheeses was the rainbow of berry and grape accompaniments. Cutest of all was a center spoon holding a square of honeycomb, no doubt from the Heights Honeybee Project.

So concludes another love letter of mine to Zelko Bistro, which I know must have faults. But with every visit, I become even more blind to them.

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