As the vocal stylings of the Manhattan Transfer broadcasted "Birdland" over the sound system, I could understand how apropos this song was to Caf Zeus. Like the song, Zeus comes across as something colorful, playful and infectious, but also as a very sophisticated dining experience.
Indeed, there is something jazzy and swinging about the surroundings. There is a Mediterranean Europe meets Cosmopolitan appeal that is befitting for the food that they serve. The indoor and outdoor seating is spectacular; one becomes truly consumed by Zeus when they enter its doors.
Thanks to my guest, Andres DeCos, my experience was even more fun and interesting. He had also never indulged in Zeus' cuisine, so this was to be a fresh experience for the both of us. Corey, who escorted us to our table, was to be our waiter for the evening and was as pleasant and prompt as any server could be. His timing and friendliness enhanced our evening and helped us choose from the menu. We were also lucky to be graced by the presence of Chef Charles Davidson who shared with us a little about the process of food making at Caf Zeus.
With one glance down the appetizer menu, the spirit of a Grecian isle or the French Riviera is conjured up with succulent suggestions such as: seared Foie Gras with figs, fried spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with sun-dried tomato sauce, or even Escargot with white wine and garlic butter sauce. Being summer, I chose the seared Scallops with Sesame crisps. This plate came topped with greens and looking like heaven. Surprisingly, instead of overpowering the seafood, the sesame seeds enhanced the freshness of the scallops. They were also deglazed with a bit of brandy to give a finish. The end results surely were a delight to scallop lovers and they are strongly suggested. Andres was intrigued with the smoked Gouda in Phyllo Purses wrapped in flaky phyllo pastry served with honey chipotle sauce. These purses were indeed perfection! The attributes of the flaky baked Gouda purses were complemented by the sublime sweetness of the honey chipotle sauce. We were not surprised to learn that this, and every dish served at Caf Zeus, is made from scratch. Every bite seems to expose that labor of love and pays off big time.
Then, we received an even bigger surprise: Chef Charles brought out four bowls of soup for us to sample. The Gazpacho consisted of large pieces of vegetable in their cool charm. Andres was most impressed with it as he had been eating gazpacho all his life and had never had tasted a soup such as this. The second soup was the Spinach and Sweet Green Pepper Soup with Prosciutto. This was full of smooth and subtle delight; it was much more than your average bowl of vegetable soup in that its silky quality and consistency gave it flair. Both the Cream of Crab and the Lobster Bisque were exquisitely delicious! The crab was in incredibly large pieces resting in a light cream which was not too heavy or thick but quite stimulating. Acting as a jealous kissing cousin, the Lobster Bisque had a similar liberating flavor and consistency as the crab. We both were equally impressed and eager to try more.
The dinner entrees to come were sensational: we were thrilled to try three of Caf Zeus' works of art. The Veal wrapped Asparagus with Nancy Sauce consisted of four large pieces of delectable breaded veal which concealed the crunchy vegetable forming a cross on top of a bed of scallion and ginger rice. To further emphasize the tender quality of the veal and the bite of the asparagus, the plate was sprinkled with capers and garnished with lemon. The surface of the veal was a thin but imperative coat of Nancy Saucea lemon butter saucewhich enhanced the whole experience.
The Surf and Turf showcased the return of the aforementioned lump crab. The Filet Mignon was like biting into butter and was extremely tender and juicy. Together it was a winning combination of texture and flavor, accompanied by warm yellow rice. It would be pertinent to add that all the vegetables at Caf Zeus are organically grown. It seems fittingly so, since every dish is created from the ground up. The third entree was the Pepper Encrusted Ahi Tuna. The presentation was so colorfully appealing and beautiful that it felt a shame to devour such a treasure. Like the Filet Mignon, the Tuna was tender and juicy as could be. Similar to the scallops with sesame, the flavor and texture of the tuna was brought out by the encrusted flavorings. The dish was complemented with sides of ginger with wasabi, cucumber and thinly sliced pieces of star shaped pear. Underneath the tuna was a gorgeous golden yellow tomato. Andres was ecstatic in that he had no idea as to when he had last dined so well.
Believe it or not, dessert was possible for us. Our appetites were certainly satisfied, but we could not help but wonder what the award winning Cappucino-Mocha Cheesecake topped with chocolate ganache or the Apple Baklava would taste like. The end results were unsurprisingly wonderful. The flavor of the cheesecake was powerful and intoxicating. The apple baklava made for the perfect bookend having commenced the meal with the phyllo purses. There is much to rave about at Caf Zeus. With its relaxed atmosphere, adventurous cuisine and admirable heart and soul one should not miss out on a meal from this great establishment. Caf Zeus, 37 Wilmington Avenue, is open daily from 5 p.m. For more information go to www.cafezeus.com or call 302-226-0400.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 11 August 12, 2005