Friday, August 29, 2008

Welcoming Zing to Indianapolis

Last night I had the opportunity to get an early taste of the food and beverages at the newest restaurant in Indianapolis, Zing. My prediction?

Zing will be a home run.

The menu is tapas/small-plate style with a focus on sharing. Indianapolis really only has one other option in this restaurant style in BARcelona Tapas, and they have a decidedly different take on it. Samples of about a dozen different menu options circulated and we tried almost all of them. Several different "pizzettes," calamari, mini burgers, and meatballs were all very tasty but particular standouts were the ahi tuna and bacon wrapped dates. Highly recommended.

The price point, concept and location are perfect. It's unique enough to be the kind of place that draws from a wide range, a destination restaurant. The location is ideal for drawing some IUPUI lunch business, as well as Indiana Government Center employees that have a short canal walk to Zing, not to mention the building itself has very high visibility on West St.

Most importantly, it has a hip feel and a relatively low price point ($7-11 for most plates) that will appeal to the young professionals that predominate in the nearby apartment complexes. That's key, in my opinion. You can have a great restaurant with good buzz that draws people for a time, but the people living closest to a restaurant -- the ones that will continue to frequent it after the buzz has worn off -- are your bread and butter. You better appeal to them, and I think Zing will do just that.

And of course, there's the draw of the wrap-around balcony. Some have worried that the street noise from West St. would be a distraction. Far from it, I thought it actually added to the lively atmosphere and reminded you that you were in a city. Yesterday, downtown happened to be hosting a trifecta of sporting events with the Fever, Indians, and Colts all starting games at 7pm, so the road was particularly packed around 6-6:30. On a typical night, traffic on West St. drops to a trickle after 6pm, so I wouldn't worry about it. Of course, if a little street noise bothers you, you can always duck inside where the brick walls block out any noise outside.

They have parking for 25 or 30 cars in their lot, with another 15 or so metered spaces on Indiana that are free after 6pm, with little or no demand from other businesses. Add the relatively dense (and getting denser) population within just a couple blocks and getting people into Zing shouldn't be a problem.

Dinner service officially starts at 5pm on Monday the 1st and lunch service is added the following week, Monday the 8th at 11am.

Unfortunately, my camera died after just two shots last night, but I'll provide them here at the end, paired with earlier shots, so you can see the effect that the final week of little details had on the upstairs area.


Alan Maginn said...

How did you get a sneak peak? Did they have a soft opening?

CorrND said...

I know restaurants usually do a slow, phased rollout for opening, but they're doing a 5-phase opening (seems a little excessive):

Wednesday: "Ribbon Cutting Ceremony" by invitation, with local leaders
Thursday: "Cocktail Party Celebration" by invitation, with a wider group
Friday-Sunday: Soft opening
Monday: Hard opening of dinner service
Next Monday: lunch service is added

I got invited to the Thursday thing because of the photos I've been posting of the renovations. I don't have a huge readership, but I'm free advertising I suppose.

Funny story: at one point, Claire and I were sitting at the bar and she pointed to the right and said "hey, that looks like Mitch Daniels." I looked over and there was Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana, chattin' up the bartender.

Weird. One day I say to myself, "Hey, I should write a blog" and the next, I'm sitting almost right next to the governor at the opening of a restaurant.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. I live right down the street and have been trying to uncover information about the restaurant, which has been difficult since they lack an internet presence. I guess I'm not too disheartened by it as I'm heading there tomorrow night with a large party!

I think Zing has the potential to be a neighborhood jewel, but will reserve my over-enthusiasm until tomorrow.

CorrND said...

Their advertising has been pretty poor so far. The fact that I live one block away and work three blocks away from this restaurant and I haven't seen any mention of it at either location is pretty amazing. They should be littering the area with "one free plate" coupons to get people in the door to try it.

Stacy, Marketing Manager said...

Great sneak peek pics! Thanks for the scoop!

Anonymous said...

Wow, a friend and I ate there last night and food was absolutely dreadful. We started out with the meatballs and the ahi tuna, with the idea we would order a couple more plates after finishing those. Well, those two things were so bad that we left.

Seriously the meatballs had no flavor, were undercooked and cold. The tuna also was flavorless, sans a bland spice. Don't they know how to properly season food? This is seriously one of the worst meals I have ever had.

I can't imagine this place lasting long if their food continues to taste like that... I do give props to the interior and mixed drink that I got!

CorrND said...

That sucks Martin! Sorry to hear that, especially about the ahi tuna. When I was in for the opening event I liked it so much I got samples of it three times.

I went back late last week to try it officially and was reasonably happy with what we got (mini burgers, bacon-wrapped dates and shrimp tamale). It's not amazing food and the small plate concept adds up very quickly but I'll be back fairly regularly (as long as I don't have an experience like yours).

However, I'm a little ticked by the draft beer prices. They're a bit high to begin with and the beer definitely doesn't come in 16 oz glasses to boot. They're ripping people off in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with the draft beer prices as well and I would have liked to see 16oz pints. The prices were a bit of a rip. However, I thought the entire menu was overpriced. Our meatballs were 7 dollars for 5 little meatballs, that were cold and flavorless. That's almost a 1.50 a ball. The tuna I felt was a bit more reasonable...

Glad you had a better experience with the food. I might give it another shot. I definitely love the tapas food experience/concept and hope this restaurant can live up to its potential.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I had to add a comment as I googled "Zing" for the very reason that I wanted to find out what others thought.
We ordered the bacon wrapped dates, BLT pizza, artichokes, olives, turkey burgers and the dish with chicken over a bean cassolet.
The food was so far below expectations it was laughable and I was embarrassed for the staff that kept coming out to check and see how amazed and impressed we were.
Firstly, the service was great. Attentive and very friendly. However, our server knew nothing about food and less about their own offerings.
Secondly, much of what we were served, however prompt, was COLD and left me continuously thinking, "seriously? I cook better than this."
The chicken and bean cassolet dish was awful and had been highly recommended. The chicken itself was about room temperature, flavorless and tought. The beans were ok and had a flavor like they had canned ham or spam. Great on a camping trip, not so great at a restaurant. The plantain chips were pointless, limp and added nothing other than a curiosity point to the dish.
The olives were olives - a meritage that was probably poured out of a jar purchased at Trader Joes or some such. The artichokes were less flavorful than those that you purchase in a jar with marinade. In fact, I am pretty sure that is exactly what it was with no added effort from the chefs.
The turkey burgers were OK. They would have benefited from a flavorful aoili or mayonaisse. Again, not served hot but just warm-ish.
The small plate concept is intended to enthral - tiny plates of sumptuous and memorable treasures of food. Zing is so far from treasurable that again, I just have to shake my head.
We were there on our wedding aniversary and mentioned this towards the end of our visit. THe server was eager to offer a complimentary dessert but we were so underwhelmed by that point that we were just eager to go home.

CorrND said...

Thanks for the review anon. These lukewarm to negative reviews of Zing are starting to pile up. Not a good sign.

I have to agree regarding the temperature of things. When I was there for the opening, everything was served very warm to hot. They were probably in the kitchen cooking up everything fresh and just pumping it out to the guests and that really made everything a lot better.

When I went back, everything was noticeably cooler and arrived incredibly fast, as if they stage many of their more popular plates and just let them sit there until someone orders it.

Supposedly they're going to promote this place with coupons and such at some point. I'm waiting to try it again until I can get some part of my bill on special, 'cause I wasn't enthralled enough to try it again yet.

Unknown said...

My wife and I went to Zing's for her Birthday and were very pleased with The atmosphere, concept and most importantly the food.

My wife is originally from Moscow and has also lived in both Italy and France. Her opinion is that Zing rivals that of what she dined on growing up overseas. The Tapas concept is so unique to Indy and it seems as though it will be a breath of fresh air in the overly saturated chain restaurant environment here.

Their lamb chops and grilled salmon were by far the best of what we tried, but I have no complaints one way or the other with any of the food we tried.

Unknown said...

Don't know what some of these "luke-warm" opinions of Zing's are about. I can understand the possibility the food came out cooler than expected and I would as well not be enthralled with my eating experience either. However, I've read a couple pokes at pricing, "$1.50 per meatball!!" Someone must not get out much. I have been from Eddie Merlots to Chilis and have had times food came out a bit cool or whatever. However the multiple flavors that are in each and every menu item is comparable with a 4 star restaurant but with 1 star restaurant pricing! Mo's steakhouse has asparagus for close to $8 with some butter on it! Zings has more than 5 ingredients in their meatballs alone. Hate to be the one to admit it, but on my wife and I's anniversary I'd much rather spend the $65 with the bottle of wine then the $300 in most downtown restaurants. My thought, Zings is a great new restaurant experience,with a price point much closer to what I'd like to spend these days, and a menu I'm use to seeing in 5 star restaurants.

Josh said...

Just ate there tonight... loved it. We had the scallops, beef kabobs, and zing zing shrimp. Every dish was excellent. Then, to top it off we had a flourless cake. It was amazing. I would highly advise everyone check out Zing. The atmosphere is a 10 and the food was excellent.