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Zeal restaurant review, East Cobb

Cornmeal-dusted zucchini BECKY STEIN/SPECIAL

Cornmeal-dusted zucchini BECKY STEIN/SPECIAL

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Zeal, a new restaurant in East Cobb. I gave it a grade of 1 star.

Recently we’ve noticed a small, but encouraging, budding of independent restaurants in the East Cobb area. At Zeal chef Eric Mulville, former executive chef at Maggiano’s Buckhead, presents a menu intended to be both healthful and satisfying for comfort food cravings. Technique he has down — never an overcooked item and proteins like the skirt steak ($21) are surprisingly tender and moist. The whiskey and craft beer flights offer their own kind of oasis in the suburban chain-restaurant sprawl. But lack of seasoning and Mulville’s sweet leanings taint otherwise auspicious dishes. The food appeals more in concept than on the plate.

Zeal’s casual atmosphere makes for an inviting community hangout. Use it as a place to grab a fine burger tricked out with roasted Hatch green chiles ($13) and to sample the craft beer selections like the yeasty Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale ($6).

Don’t miss the cornmeal-dusted zucchini ($7), my favorite dish at Zeal. Tall fingers of the cornmeal battered vegetable come presented in a small, paper-lined tin bucket. A thin lemony aioli keeps the mildly crunchy, seasoned crust light, bright and fresh.

If I’m in the neighborhood and want a bite and a beverage, I could find myself here snuggled into one of the comfy chairs in the lounge or perched on a patio bench with friends.

Subscribers can read the full review on myajc.com.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

15 comments Add your comment

y3ll0wjacket

January 16th, 2014
1:42 pm

Gotta call out the Boulevard beer. As an ATL transplant in Kansas City, I can confirm their beers are excellent. Wondering if they’re becoming popular in Atlanta? Thanks for the articles – they help me feel like I’m staying in touch.

Tobiaz Johansen

January 16th, 2014
3:50 pm

Har har har eet gets one star, OTP is ways too far!

Tom

January 16th, 2014
10:52 pm

we were there on opening night & honestly I’m surprised they’re still in business – to call it a train wreck would be an act of pity… they must have been pretty well capitalized when they opened b/c I don’t know anyone in my neighborhood (basically across street from them) who has anything good to say about them… I feel bad saying that b/c the owners seem nice & they did a nice job on the ambience but I don’t think Seed/Stem, Common Quarter or even Red Skye are losing any sleep over their new neighbor…

& for you ITP snobs if you haven’t been to Seed or Stem (adjacent & owned by same people) you’re missing out! they’re not Eugene or Optimist but they’re pretty d@m^ good & worth the trip out to EC!

ABC

January 17th, 2014
9:09 am

How surprising…you only give the one measly star to the OTP restaurant!

EDGEWOOD

January 17th, 2014
9:15 am

@Tom,

Its not about being a snob. Now you have a nice place to eat in your own neighborhood. I don’t need to drive 30 miles for a meal I could have in my wonderful ITP neighborhood. Maybe now you guys can just stay out there a little more often….

Baltisraul.....

January 17th, 2014
9:26 am

If you really think that this ITP vs OTP topic is interesting or even relevant, you need therapy. What a waste of brain cells, guys! Go out to eat where you want and spend the $ you believe fits your budget. It is not that difficult.

Freedumb Fry's

January 17th, 2014
9:57 am

I like eating in East Cobb and I will occasionally drive to Woodstock or Alpharetta for a good meal.
To me, it’s all about the experience.
Not surprisingly, I prefer lower quality ingredients prepared and served with no enthusiasm.
For date night, screaming babies and retrograde wine offerings are a must.
Today is Friday, so I am counting the hours until I get to load my large spouse into the minivan and head to the local chain restaurant with 90’s decor.
OTP ’til I die, ya’ll.

Baltisraul.....

January 17th, 2014
10:10 am

Freedumb Fry’s………finally someone on here that know his limitations.

Ned Ludd

January 17th, 2014
1:08 pm

Let’s quit quibbling and remember places like Manuel’s,Georges,Colonnade,Mary Mac’s, Atkins Park and others that are BTP.——–Before The Perimeter—-Jeez folks this is a food, not a geography blog!

Baltisraul.....

January 17th, 2014
4:02 pm

Ned…..Amen, brother!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jack

January 17th, 2014
8:35 pm

Zeal has a killer key lime cake. Maybe opening night was a little rough, but they have pulled it together. Good times at zeal. Glad they are here.

Paul

January 19th, 2014
8:52 am

Tried it when it first opened. Tasty lunch but really small portions and really high price – like $30 with tip, and I drank a water. Waiter asked me how everything was and I told him it was a good appetizer but now I need to think about where to go to get lunch. I haven’t been back and I won’t go back. Too pretentious and expensive and Red Skye is just to its left and much better all around.

Baltisraul.....

January 19th, 2014
9:29 am

Paul…your comment sorta sums up why these types of places have a short shelf life.

D

January 20th, 2014
5:00 pm

Hmm. This isn’t exclusive to this restaurant, but I have to complain somewhere about menus lately with $12 burgers. I mean really… $6 is the top of the bracket for fast food, so you can’t expect people to pay twice that for something that takes the same time to prepare.

[...] This week in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jenny Turknett visits Zeal in East Cobb, giving it one star. Behind the paywall, she writes that while she might find herself in “one of the comfy chairs in the lounge or perched on a patio bench with friends” if in the area, the restaurant won’t “save me from making the 35-45 minute drive into town.” Disappointed it isn’t fried, the critic finds the crispy kale salad to be a “workout for your jaw.” She also notes that it suffers from the addition of too much sugar, an ailment the French onion soup and pork tenderlion also befall. Her favorite dish is the cornmeal dusted zucchini, and she also approves of the “inviting community hangout’s” Georgia trout and craft beer selection. [...]