Sherman's Food Adventures: Cin Cin

Cin Cin

It seems that we are often so focused on trying the latest and greatest restaurants, we don't remember the classics.  Take Cin Cin for instance.  Nearing 30 years in operation, their take on traditional Italian has won them an array of awards and many chefs (pastry chefs too) have made their name there.  Looking back at my blog, I haven't actually dined there in 6 years!  Lots have changed since then, yet at the same time, much of it is still the same.  That is music to my ears as I didn't necessarily want any change.  I guess I was going to find out along with Elaine, Costanza and Viv.

We wanted to get a little of everything on the menu, so we began with 3 appies including the feature of the day - Vitello Tonnato. Although pretty and colourful, I didn't think the greens on top were necessary to the dish.  However, once we got down to the thinly sliced medium veal, it was a pretty solid dish.  The meat was soft and didn't require much effort to chew.  On top, the random globs of tuna mayonnaise were creamy and had an impactful amount of fish flavour.  Sporting the same greens and dressed in a bright vinaigrette, the Fried Zucchini Blossoms were ever-so-delicate.  Golden-brown, the exterior was lightly crispy without much in the way of grease.  Inside, the filling of montasio and goat cheese was not as gamy as one would expect.  Rather, it was creamy and airy while mild-tasting.

Our last small dish was the Grilled Humboldt Flying Squid atop borlotti beans, chili and aioli.  Yes, on the side was the same arugula and radish salad found with the other dishes.  As clearly evidenced in the picture, the pieces of squid were beautifully and evenly grilled.  They were buttery with a satisfying chew.  There was enough inherent seasoning for the squid to stand on its own.  For some odd reason, I really loved the tender beans underneath.  I couldn't stop eating them!  We ended up with one pasta being the Casarecce with spicy chorizo sausage, tomato, chili, rosemary and parmesan.  This didn't look all that impressive at first.  In the end, it ate really well with firmly al dente pasta bathed in a low-rumbling spiced creamy tomato sauce with plenty of meaty chorizo.  This was full of texture and body.

Now that was good, but the Wood Grilled Sea Scallops with Acquerello Risotto was even more impressive.  Sporting 4 large perfectly medium-rare buttery scallops, this was already good even before we got to the risotto.  However, the creamy and cheesy rice with chive oil and fava beans was full-flavoured while sporting chewy grains.    This was finished off with a crispy and nutty  parmesan lace.  For our first main, the Veal Osso Buco was surprisingly large.  Size is one thing, but it was actually very well-executed.  The meat fell off the bone while still retaining a bite.  Consisting of white wine and tomato, the sauce sported a light tanginess to go with plenty of umaminess.  The side of saffron risotto was just as good as the previous dish where the grains were chewy and the amount of saffron was enough to create an aromatic impact.

One of the more interesting dishes was the Chicken with Nduja.  Normally, I stay away from chicken dishes, but Mijune recommended that I order it.  Good call as the chicken was super moist while the skin was nicely rendered.  In between the skin and the meat was a substantial layer of meaty and spicy nduja.  This was more than enough to bring the chicken alive while adding a touch of fattiness.  Okay, the picture of the Whole Branzino didn't turn out so you will have to imagine how good it looked with the deboned picture.  Moist and slightly smoky from the grilling, the branzino sported natural sweetness.  Acidity from the lemon helped brighten things up.  The side of German butter potatoes was nutty, crispy and pillowy soft inside.  This was also an accompaniment with the chicken.

Our last courses consisted of the Yogurt Panna Cotta and Tiramisu. It is no secret that I prefer lighter desserts and the panna cotta was right up my alley.  Texturally, it was on point with a certain firmness giving way to pillowy softness.  It was slightly tangy and not overly sweet while the pistachio namelaka, elderflower gel and marinated oranges provided aromatics and acidity.  The tiramisu was pretty classic and there was nothing wrong with that.  There was enough espresso punch for effect without being too strong, while the creamy marscapone wasn't too sweet.  Very balanced with no theatrics with the plating - straightforward and delicious.  That pretty much sums up our recent experience at Cin Cin.  It may not have the modern decor of some of the newer spots.  Neither does it necessary wow you with any gimmicks.  However, what you do get is a classic experience with good food and great service.

The Good:
- Properly executed proteins
- Solid all around
- Attentive service

The Bad:
- You'll have to pay for it (consider the location and the experience)
- Maybe a bit too much repetition with the greens


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