TAKING IT IN: The setting at Zenzero is one characterised by contemporary designs with a touch of luxury. This adds to the fine-dining experience. Pictures: Supplied

This Camps Bay favourite prides itself on quality service and contemporary dishes, writes Marchelle Abrahams.

As I parked the car in windy Camps Bay, I was seriously considering turning around and heading back home for a warm bed and a cup of hot chocolate.

But the call of a hearty meal and that rumbling sound in my tummy won out.

As soon as we stepped into Zenzero, the welcome of a roaring fire and dimly lit dining room made the trip from the suburbs worthwhile.

Not new on the foodie scene, the restaurant prides itself on quality service and its contemporary dishes, but it’s the eatery’s flair for Italian cuisine that sets it apart from the rest.

Situated on the Camps Bay strip, Zenzero finds itself in the company of other sought-after, fine dining establishments. The restaurant business is a tough nut to crack, especially when having to compete with others for top tourist dollars.

So, what makes Zenzero different? Longevity speaks volumes. In operation for more than six years, the restaurant underwent a major refurbishment and reopened only recently - just in time for the tourist season.

I hadn’t visited it before the revamp, so I have no “before and after” to compare.

WINNING CHOICE: The seafood dishes come highly recommended.

The clean, contemporary lines with touches of luxury add to the fine dining experience. But what really had me excited were the rows and rows of bookshelves that lined the interior walls, and it got me thinking if diners are encouraged to leaf through the pages between meals? Now that would be a great selling point for those booking a meal for one.

The menu itself is extensive, no matter what your taste, there’s something for everyone.

Most dishes are inspired by good old Italian flavour, but Zenzero is also known for its seafood. So for my starter, I went with mussels served with shallots and garlic and lemon sauce. As a starter, it was ample enough to share, but I found the mussels a bit on the small side.

My dining partner chose the prawns with olive oil, garlic and lemon. She was obviously impressed as she struggled to get a word in between mouthsful.

Because of the miserable weather, I opted for something hearty and in line with Zenzero’s Italian roots for my mains.

The risotto asparagus came highly recommended by our waitress, and I was keen to see how the chef would incorporate the veg into the dish.

Served with pine nuts, olives, confit tomatoes, parmigiano-reggiano and lemon, you also have the option of adding prawns at an extra cost. Creamy and flavourful, it’s everything you’d expect from a risotto dish, and then some more.

SWEET SPOT: Enjoy frozen nougat at Zenzero.

If you have place left for dessert, do yourself a favour and try the frozen nougat. It’s an unusual dessert that I’ve never seen before, and it’s exactly as the name suggests The fresh citrus and olive oil sponge melt in the mouth and is a zesty delight for the taste buds.

As the weather warms and the droves are drawn to Camps Bay, chances are Zenzero will become a favourite with diners. My advice is to get there before the hordes do and be sure to make a booking to avoid disappointment.

* Visit www.zenzerorestaurant.co.za or call 021 438 0007