date of visit: Wednesday 17 September 2014
A few weeks ago now it transpired that a couple of my friends all had time off work – mid week, so we were able to pretend that we’re ladies who lunch. We decided to meet at the marina at Glenelg and, being a Wednesday lunch time, just try our luck.
There wasn’t too much umming and aahing until we settled on Zucca, Adam Swanson’s (he of San Remo pasta fame) Greek mezze restaurant. It turned out that I was the only one of us who had much experience of Greek food before so I was in charge of any menu interpretation that needed doing. Fortunately the menu is largely self explanatory and the staff at Zucca are reasonably attentive and more than capable of helping out.
After a bit of negotiation to suit tastes we decided on tzatziki and bread to start, followed by a large Greek salad, the SA calamari, the pork gyro (that’s a yiros) and the braised Clare Valley lamb. While we definitely had plenty of food, in hindsight I don’t think we did the best job of ordering dishes that really catered to everyone’s preferences. Which is a shame, because the menu at Zucca is quite extensive. There is really something for everyone, but I think the problem is that with mezze style dining you need to end up finding several things that suit everyone and that can be tricky.
The dip and bread was absolutely fine (there’s only so much you can say about tzatziki!) and was followed quickly by the main dishes. The calamari is simply floured and fried – so don’t be expecting anything like salt and pepper squid. The ‘condiments’ with which it is served are a cornichon, some tartare sauce and a wedge of lemon. The tartare sauce was actually pretty good and the squid was tender and not greasy (which, incidentally, is at polar odds with my mum’s experience of it here a year or so ago).
Greek salad is pretty hard to get excited about and I’m not sure about Zucca’s presentation where a slab of feta is placed on top of the salad. Great if you don’t like feta and want to eat around it but both a bit impractical and unattractive. The salad did get a tick from me for not being too heavily dressed.
The Clare Valley lamb with orzo and kefalotiri cheese was served on the bone so this also made sharing challenging. For me this was the most disappointing dish, as, even though the lamb was soft, I found it too heavy handed with the cinnamon.
The pork gyro was the stand out dish. Impressively plated up, it arrived at the table as a “build your own”, with salad, tzatziki, breads and even some crackling. Of the three main dishes we ordered this is the one I would order again. However, I did think it was a shame that when we ordered it wasn’t pointed out to us that the pork came with tzatziki as I felt we doubled up there and we might have ordered a different dip.
With only soft drinks ordered we spent in the region of $30 a head. I definitely had enough to eat and thought it was reasonable value, especially as mezze style eating can rack up in price quite quickly. The wine list offers a good selection of wines by the glass and a cross section of wines by the bottle, including some lesser known wines from Greece. Prices seem quite reasonable.
One thing I have noticed from online reviews (which, incidentally, are very uneven), which is not made clear on Zucca’s website, is that it does not seem to be particularly child friendly. If you do intend dining with a small person I recommend that you call ahead and check that it won’t cause problems.
While I left feeling reasonably happy, on reflection I’d best describe myself as ambivalent. I would go back again but it is not on the top of my list either. Zucca seems to trade a lot on position (stunning views of the sea or marina, anyone?) but my gut feeling is that it could try just a little harder.
Shop 5, Marina Pier
Glenelg SA 5045
phone: 08 8376 8222