Zins, the meal that lasts for months

Zins ordering drinks and first course

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this place, so I had to write a blog about it. If you’re in CR, you need to stop and try this place.

I’m an artist of frugality. That’s why places like Zins are so important. My frugality patches my life; places like Zins restore it.

I wear shoes until they wear out, delight driving my unglamorous Taurus because it’s paid off. Last week one of my purses broke a strap after 7 years of intermittent use – it made my day. I find the beauty of use a remarkable thing – like an achievement which attests to the quality of a thing. But before meeting Kevin I lacked something I didn’t realize I lacked – we all need to be recharged.  In spite of my carefully crafted cheapness, I, like my careworn things, needed to experience some newness.

Zins Cedar Rapids

In my frugality I used to think any type of luxury was unnecessary spending. Why have an expensive dinner if I’m just as happy reading a second-hand book? Well, it turns out, I didn’t know there was a difference. My cheapness got in the way, as my worry about costs zapped the fun out of things.

Kevin said, “What is life if all you do is work, and never enjoy it?” Even more so when you are celebrating surviving cancer. Good points! Garçon! Another bottle of wine, please!

While it’s rare that we do this, and we cut back on other expenses for these rare nights out, they create outstanding, lifelong memories we already refer to when reminiscing on the few years we’ve been together. We enjoyed ourselves so much, I had to blog about it. Zins was the place we went after marrying, and for each anniversary after. It is the place we celebrate changes and momentous occasions, rites of passage, and happiness.

I quickly decided I didn’t want to be the kind of old person who has never tasted a rare blade steak smothered in a near witchcrafty mix of herbs and sauce that look like abstract art. I decided I wanted a big plate, with little on it, with flavors so unusually married I will never forget them for the rest of my life. I wanted the experience.

Zins Cedar Rapids TishandKyle

Zins is a perfect example of this. Strange and pleasant, with humble, rough brick walls, seriously white table cloths, and formally folded napkins. It’s more than quiet little candles on every table. There’s an eagerness in the air. The ho-hum attitude of big city 5-star restaurants is happily missing. Here, you are special.

Kevin and I always have much to talk about, but we’re just as happy with silence as we sip dirty martinis before the next course while being swaddled by Frank Sinatra songs. The repair that happens to me at Zins is in the food, in the air, in the sounds. I’m applauded for my good culinary choices by the staff  (which I find funny), but it’s the whole experience that does us good.

What I like most, I think, is that it is owned by a person, not a huge corporation. Lee’s inventiveness and love of his industry make this place impactful and more than a meal. Like the difference between piano keys on a keyboard and piano keys on a concert grand piano – you might have played around on a Casio, but you just don’t touch a grand piano unless you know what you’re doing. This is the difference with Zins. It’s simply better.

Kevin at ZinsThis is the only customer Kevin will barter with because he personally loves it so much. Zins features his carpentry and style. From the bar to the bathroom stalls you feel cloaked in a regal comfort. I love it most because I know Kevin’s work, and it’s one of the few places I can be completely surrounded by it. It’s apropos that a food snob as Kevin would do such gorgeous work to add to the ambience of our favorite place.

Happily glutted from the night before, full of delicacies and fine beers and my bi-annual martini, we awoke at 11:00 am Saturday, drank coffee and nibbled on canned smoked oysters and saltine crackers for breakfast. (No joke). The regular grind of the ‘real world’ begins again on Monday. So our luxurious, recharging night at Zins must hold us over until next time, when we arrive with anticipation, the exhaustion of our reality, and the readiness to be restored – again.


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