Sherman's Food Adventures: Zia's Cafe and Grill

Zia's Cafe and Grill

The "industrial park" restaurant is one that we've seen before.  Hidden within warehouses and offices, the place is usually non-descript, have limited hours and offers up generic food for the workers in the area.  However, that is certainly not the case with Zia's Cafe and Grill located in 13700 Mayfield Place in Richmond.  Sure, they still serve burgers and such, but that is only a small part of the menu.  In addition to that, we find made-from-scratch Persian, Indian and Middle Eastern dishes.  I recently made my way out there with Jacqueline for a taste of their wares.

We began with their Vaziri consisting of both Kebab Koobideh and Joojeh Kebab with saffron rice and grilled tomatoes.  This was a large plate of food that would serve 2 people easy.  Both the chicken and beef were tender and nicely spiced.  The ground beef kebabs were juicier with a nice onion finish while the chicken breast kebabs were a bit drier with the essence of saffron.  I would've liked a bit more char, but these ate very well nonetheless.
The next set of dishes included Gheimeh (Split Pea Stew, Ghormeh Sabzi (Herb Stew) and Kashk O Bademjoon (Eggplant Dip).  We could really tell these were made from scratch and resembled more like home-cooking than restaurant food.  Hence, the dishes were salty nor too greasy.  I found the lentil stew to be mild with tender beef and light tomato notes.  The herb stew was very subtle with herbaceousness and tender beef as well.  Complimented by mint, garlic and yogurt whey, the roasted eggplant dip went well with the soft flatbread.  I also thought the flavours in this was also subtle.

By looking at the colour of the Butter Chicken, it didn't appear that they used tomato paste.  In fact, it looked like they used fresh tomatoes.  Hence, the flavours were creamier and again, I'll used the word, subtle.  I was able to get the earthiness of the cumin and just the slightest hint of spice.  Nestled in the sauce, we found tender nuggets of chicken.  Again, this was served with saffron rice.

Now the fact they serve different things other than their core menu has mainly to do with offering more lunch options in the industrial park they reside in.  But their Famous Charbroiled Burger was far from a throw-in.  I thought it was fantastic as the fresh beef patty had a great meaty texture and flavour.  Furthermore, there was a smoky sear that complimented the natural taste of the meat.  Sure, their fries were not house-made, but at least they used Cavendish (Costco Fries) because they were good.

One of the best, if not the best, things we tried was the TFC Burger featuring crispy tandoori chicken bites nestled in a brioche bun with jalapeno mayo.  They were indeed crispy with some spice and plenty of impact.  Chicken was moist and the whole thing just ate well with a variety of flavours and textures.  I would say this is the thing to get here as it is unique and cheap at $10.00 including fries!  I would say that the food at Zia's is reasonably-priced considering that everything (well, almost everything) is scratch-made and not loaded with salt and preservatives.  Good option if you are in the area.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Scratch-made food
- Reasonably-priced
- Wonderful people

The Bad:
- Since it is homemade, things are milder and more subtle


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