According to my dining companion for an evening at Zucca, there’s no such thing as a free meal when you have to listen to my honking banter all night. But come the final curtain, even he would concede that putting up with my pish for a couple of hours is a small price to pay for such a top drawer feed.
You’ll find Zucca a snowball’s throw off Lothian Rd, adjacent to the Lyceum Theatre. How adjacent? Well put it this way – take a wrong turn on your way back from the facilities and you may well find yourself on stage taking part in their latest production. Sharing a swing door with the luvvies may give the restaurant a pre-theatre buzz but that unfortunately gives way to a showtime lull once the gig starts. Still, the bright and airy mezzanine space, tastefully adorned with theatrical posters, makes for a welcoming environment. Points given, too, for being able to seat us even though we turned up well over half an hour early.
A starter of scallops wrapped in pancetta impressed, but well-seared and swimming in a rich herby oil though they were, they could easily have benefited from another ten seconds on each side. And while it didn’t take the world’s most imaginative chef to put together the plate of Parma ham with fresh figs and honey dressing across the table, it was still a well-rounded concoction.
Being no stranger to second helpings, the rather dainty looking plate of lamb stew presented to me seemed at first glance to require supersizing, but the meat itself was exquisite and surprisingly filling atop a bed of smooth mash. Gnocchi has the habit of sitting in your stomach like half a pound of unchewed plasticine, but the feather-light offering here was of the highest order, while the accompanying shredded duck was truly of the melt-in-the-mouth variety, which even the unexpected presence of peas couldn’t taint.
Finishing off with the creamiest, fluffiest, most pick-me-up tiramisu imaginable makes Zucca an easy recommendation. Just make sure you go with someone who has decent chat.