I hope you’ve been enjoying our Paleo restaurant review week so far. If you’ve been missing having new Paleo recipe inspiration, take a gander through all my Paleo recipes and stick around because I’ll have more soon.
ZED451 is a Paleo friendly Steakhouse in Chicago that is currently participating in Chicago Restaurant Week. The ZED Experience is only available until tomorrow evening so if you want to know if you should spend your Thursday night there, let’s hear from Anthony how his experience went.
739 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654
A Feast For Cavepeople
ZED451 is the perfect restaurant for all of you with a gigantic appetite. Especially if you have just completed a monstrous workout or taken an ice bath. We can easily describe this restaurant with one word, FEAST. I could go on and on about the amount of food you get, but that is borderline gluttonous and not very civilized, so allow me to indulge you with what this restaurant has to offer.
ZED451 is similar to an upscale skiing lodge. Dimly lit by multiple fireplaces and candlelight. Definitely a great place to bring your cavegirl/caveman. It evokes a romantic tone, but is spacious enough for a group.
Let’s talk food.
It’s like being a kid again and locked in a candy store. Now, I’m not saying the dishes are like eating candy (that would defeat the purpose of being Paleo) but it’s like standing in the middle of that store full of wonderment. Imagine the idea of getting multiple samples of your favorite foods served to you, and it never has to end. That’s what gets me gitty.
It is, in my opinion, the best example of exposing someone to a culinary cornucopia. Lots of choices to dine on.
From vegetation to meats to cheeses (for those of you that are not strict Paleo and can tolerate cheese). The excitement almost took me straight to meat sampling, but with a veggie spread like the one they offer, I couldn’t resist.
I had some mushrooms which were earthy and balanced, and carrots that were sweet and charred perfectly. They were both a tasty starter, but nothing like what I experienced with the Beet Terrine.
The Beet Terrine was like a guiltless dessert. With every bite you keep asking yourself, “is this okay to eat!? It’s just so darn good!” There is a sweetness that is unique to beets and by having it delicately layered with goat cheese and also incorporating some aromatic and bitter fresh basil, it leaves you both indulgent and satisfied. A rare combination you don’t want to miss.
The next plate was composed of kale, asparagus and deviled eggs. The kale was lightly cooked and paired with lettuce then seasoned with a lovely vinaigrette. The pairing just worked. The lettuce lightened up the kale’s inherent bitterness and the lettuce lowered the intensity. The vinaigrette simply filled in the gaps. Sour and sweet (and if you can eat cheese, salty and creamy).
The asparagus was grilled the way I like it and topped with diced pepper and onions. The spears texture was crunchy and soft without any nasty chewiness.
Although the next item isn’t a veggie, it was worth a mention. Guacamole Deviled Eggs. A zesty and creamy spin on a classic that just makes you wonder why this isn’t more common. The filling was as advertised, and prepped me for what came next.
The proteins were amazing. The first item I had was a delicious Moroccan chicken. Nothing like starting your meal with a tender spiced to perfection piece of chicken. This was not only flavorful, but also full of complexity, and more importantly, moist. That’s right, tender AND moist and full of flavor! What an awesome way to start on what I’m calling “The Wheel of Meat.”
Salmon (sushi-grade and wild caught) in an herb crust, seared perfectly. The skin was crunchy and salty which mixed well with that light sear. It was borderline sashimi and borderline hibachi. For those of you that enjoy a less common meat that is also comforting, try the farm-raised venison. The meat was so tender. Lightly, and I mean lightly, seared to seal the juices in, crusted in black pepper and salt (does it really need anything else?), and topped with a delicious mushroom bordelaise sauce.
The first choice I was given for beef was the hanger steak with chimichurri. This one was tasty, but to be honest, too tough and rubbery for me to enjoy. I think this could benefit from a little slower cooking. The chimichurri was also a little pedestrian, not something I would expect at this place. Since we were 0 – 1 on beef, I was really excited to hear the gaucho mention the next item up, a Wagyu beef with a roasted chipotle sauce. Now this made my taste buds light up like a Christmas tree. Buttery and tender the way a cut like this should be. The ribeye (which is buttermilk crusted) was what was up next. Now I like ribeye, but after following Wagyu beef, let’s just say it was difficult to try anything more…so I requested another Wagyu beef. :)
Since we were already on the edge of gluttony, how could we forget dessert! So many choices, but since space was limited, I chose spiced apricots, fig marmalade, and poached pears without the blue cheese crumbles. What a wonderful finish to an amazing meal.
What about Drinks?
Even the bartender had an excellent choice of refreshments. Being Paleo is, at times, very difficult to find choices that work. So when we requested an aperitif sans alcohol, the restaurant’s attention to detail became apparent. The bartender whipped us up a concoction made of muddled blackberries and basil, fresh pressed orange juice, and topped it with club soda. Effervescent and refreshing.
How Paleo Friendly is ZED451?
I was at odds with how I wanted to rate ZED451. The food was delicious and definitely Paleo friendly however if we’re talking sustainability seasonal and gluten-free options are as close as we’re going to get. Local, organic, grass-fed and pasture-raised are just not words you’ll hear mentioned at ZED451.
739 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654