FOOD REVIEW: Zena's in Barnstaple
UCKED away beside the bustling Barnstaple Pannier Market, Zena's is a classy, continental style bistro waiting to be discovered. Its natural light, high ceilings and warm yellow walls give it a spacious, elegant feel.
On a busy lunchtime – one that had the French waiter burning holes in his shoes around us – we were greeted by the smell of gorgeous food, raising our expectations for a midday snack.
The menu and specials board offered light bites (think goats cheese bruschetta) as well as more hearty, traditional dishes, including curry.
My veggie-loving lunch partner was fantasising that the potato skins she had chosen, with chilli and sour cream, would be filled with fresh chillis. The corners of her mouth started to droop a little when they arrived laden with chilli con carne. Luckily, waiter Stephane Tramine noticed the meaty mix-up and gallantly came to the rescue. In no time at all an alternative of fish cakes appeared. Thankfully, a gorgeously sweet, hot chilli dipping sauce removed any traces of a sulk.
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It was the waiter service that impressed me the most at Zena's. To be attentively served by the same person throughout the meal was a refreshing experience, and admittedly being addressed as "Ladies" in a French accent didn't hurt at all.
My duck confit with baked potato, braised red cabbage, onion gravy and peas was a perfect antidote to the cold outside. With a hot buttered potato at its base, the duck was crispy on the outside and perfectly cooked, falling off the bone with the slightest nudge of a fork. The red cabbage was deliciously sweet, the onion gravy the perfect thickness.
For pudding there were all the traditional favourites to choose from alongside petits fours and coffee. A brownie and syrup sponge pudding arrived quickly, providing a much-needed sugar rush to get us back on the road.
Where: Zena's, Market Street, Barnstaple
Bookings: 01271 378844.
Cost: The above meal for two with drinks came to £24.30.