Friday, March 29th, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Date Night: Tzin and Theatresports

Mack and I are fortunate to live on a street where there are so many great restaurants, but the truth is, when we’re at home, we typically end up dining in. As a result, we generally don’t eat out at the establishments closest to us, though we walk past them almost every day. So during Downtown Dining Week, we made a conscious decision to make a reservation at Tzin, the charming little wine bar just down the street from our condo, our first stop after work last Friday.

Tzin was packed, as per usual – reservations are a must at this 18-seat restaurant. It is such a warmly designed room, from the autumnal colours to the rich tapestries and throw pillows. Though seating is quite intimate (we were inches away from the next tables), space is cleverly utilized – from the closet slotted in the alcove between the kitchen and the front door, to the purse hooks located on the table posts.

We loved that the $50 3-course prix fixe menu featured several dishes off of Tzin’s regular menu, which provides a better snapshot of what the restaurant can do on a regular basis (as opposed to a special menu designed just for the occasion). It also offered us some choice, as we were able to select from two different appetizers, entrees and desserts. No question both Mack and I were felled by the promise of braised Irvings Farm bacon to start, but deviated for the rest of the meal.

The braised bacon raised the bar high right from the start. The thick-cut pork belly was braised to perfection; the fat just melted away, complemented by a balsamic apple compote and calvados gastrique. We both remarked that we would come back for this dish alone.

TZiN

Braised bacon

Mack enjoyed his chicken breast supreme well enough. My Four Whistle Farm rack of lamb was cooked to medium rare, but I would have preferred more aggressive spices. Likely, this was done on purpose, to balance with the underlay of harissa couscous, but it ended up meaning the starch provided the dominant flavour.

TZiN

Chicken supreme

TZiN

Rack of lamb

Dessert left us wanting more. The flourless chocolate torte, encased in a velvety chocolate ganache was bliss on a plate. Mack, who usually skips dessert, devoured his warm gingerbread cake, drizzled with Kracken rum caramel. The accompanying brown butter ice cream was so good we thought about asking Chef Corey McGuire to start hawking this flavour on the street in warmer climes.

TZiN

Warm gingerbread cake and flourless chocolate torte

Proprietor Kelsey Danyluk is the consummate host, and always takes care of her diners. Her wine recommendations are always spot on, too! The kitchen was also extremely efficient – we were never left waiting long for the next dish.

I look forward to our next visit to Tzin – we’ll have to make sure to take advantage of its patio when the time comes!

After dinner, Mack and I walked over to the Citadel Theatre to take in Theatresports. Since Rapid Fire Theatre relocated downtown last fall, we’ve been meaning to check out their new home at Zeidler Hall.

The 7:30pm show that night was probably a smaller crowd than usual, but it did give the audience members a better chance that one of their suggestions would be taken up by the improvisers.

Rapid Fire Theatre

Matt Alden welcomes the audience

We watched several teams duke out one another in a series of improv challenges. As each team had to incorporate suggestions from the audience, it guaranteed that no show is the same. We were amazed by how quick-witted the actors were, and how the vignettes ended up in unpredictable, but hilarious places (such as a spontaneous song about Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan).

For $12, we thought that the ticket price was well worth the entertainment. You can look for Theatresports every Friday at 7:30pm and 10pm, while Chimprov, Rapid Fire’s long-form improv show, runs every Saturday at 10pm.

Tzin
10115 104 Street
(780) 428-8946

Rapid Fire Theatre
Zeidler Hall @ the Citadel Theatre, 9828 101A Ave