Z Food & Drink – Manchester

Titanic Decisions I do not always make sensible decisions. For our honeymoon, my husband and I went on a cruise to Canada. I’ve always been wary of boats, seeing as I watched Titanic at an impressionable age. I’m nervous of a history-repeat, regardless of where the boat is (even, say, at the equator, where icebergs are rare). Let’s not even touch on my irrational fear of sharks. So, not only did I choose my honeymoon to be on a boat (suspect decision #1), but we went to Halifax, which is uncomfortably close to the actual Titanic crash site (suspect decision #2). While in Halifax, I decided it would be neat to go to the Halifax Titanic Museum (suspect decision #3). Having to get back on the ship after a full day of wandering through images, artifacts and stories of the Titanic tragedy was challenging to say the least.

Strange decision 53,001 through 53,006: I have been to Z Food & Drink not once, not twice, but a full six times. Every visit, I leave disenchanted, but I keep going back, hoping they’ll prove me wrong. “I’ll never let go Jack, I’ll never let go!”

Z is located on Elm Street in Manchester, so you have to try your luck with metered on-street parking. An interesting tidbit: Z is on some kind of emergency NH power grid, so whenever we get those massive power outages that last for days, Z is up and running for business.

I want to like this place. I really, really do. The atmosphere is cute and fun, the menu reads well, and the complimentary rosemary truffle popcorn you get before your meal is positively addicting. Unfortunately, most of the servers we’ve had were impersonal, our one interaction with the owner was disrespectful, several of their dishes have been disappointing, and I’m tired of the ‘hit or miss’ risk I take each time I eat here. With the fairly steep prices, it’s really not worth the gamble even when they hit, and I’d much rather go to a place that is consistently good.

Their Asian Nachos is one that’s enjoyable every time. This nacho appetizer is drizzled with wasabi and peanut sauce (needs more) and sprinkled with cheese (needs more). Despite the lack of toppings, the texture and crunch is satisfying and the peanut sauce is the best part. The Chicken and Chips lunch meal is another success story. The sweet apricot dipping sauce really complements the chicken, and the sweet potato fries have a surprisingly good spicy seasoning.

The bartender we had the one time we ate at the bar was unfriendly. There wasn’t anything on the short cocktail menu that appealed to me, so I did what I typically do and asked for suggestions. I listed a few liquors I enjoy as a starting point (this is how I discover some amazing drinks- asking the bartender for their ideas) but she simply pointed to the cocktail menu. When I pleasantly tried to get a suggestion again, she pointed to the menu and said something along the lines of “these are my specialty drinks” and then proceeded to sarcastically read them to me as though I couldn’t read them myself. Its fine with me if a restaurant only wants to serve certain mixed drinks, but then don’t advertise (and look like) an incredibly well-stocked bar (which by the way, is one thing they do have – a huge, beautiful, fully-loaded bar).

The drinks we did get were fine but weak. The Cozmo had an unpleasant flavor I couldn’t identify, but the Violet was enjoyable and Hubby liked his Ginger drink. We had a good chuckle over the straws: they are quite a bit shorter than the tall bar glasses, so they don’t reach the bottom of the glass. This makes it impossible to drink the last inch or so of your beverage without tipping ice all over your face.

Here are the misses: The Tacos (we tried tuna, duck, pork, and beef) were fun to order, and at only $3-4 each, a great price. They looked beautiful, but were lacking any unusual or interesting flavors. Other dishes we have tried on our visits include the Fish Chowder (okay), Scallops (WAY too salty- and you know I love salt!), Chopped Sirloin (okay), Goat Cheese Croquettes Salad (potential with the croquettes, but didn’t meet my expectations), Chopped Steak Burger (just a normal burger), Lobster Risotto (bland).

The salt and pepper plate on the table is adorable and fun, but sanitation-wise makes me nervous as I watched other diners dip their food (like a fry for example) directly into the salt.

To finish on a sweet note – the Almost Frozen Lemon Mousse dessert was excellent. It resembled lemon ice cream more than mousse, but I enjoyed the deliciously strong lemon flavor that complimented the accompanying shortbread.

If the power is out, and you need a place to eat, you could give Z a chance. I, however, think it is finally time for me “to let go.” Sorry Leonardo DiCaprio! ¡Buen provecho!

Keep it Local: Z is committed to using regional and organic ingredients when possible.

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4 Responses to Z Food & Drink – Manchester

  1. Martha says:

    Sad to hear you haven’t enjoyed your Z visits. It was on my list of places to try. Would love to have you come visit us at The Black Forest in Amherst. Have some new menu items starting this Thursday, and our specialty is comfort food with a creative twist! Martha Walters, Owner

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