Dining at a Circus Show: Seattle's Teatro ZinZanni
Teatro ZinZanni gives a whole new meaning to the expression "dinner and a show." This dinner was a show. From the moment we entered the tent, we knew we were in for a treat. The staff was all decked out in belly-dancing costumes and fez hats. The theater itself is a vintage Spiegeltent (mirror tent) from the 1910s. And the whole experience felt like stepping back in time.
What we wanted that night was magic and delight and wonder. We wanted romance and escape and a delicious meal amid it all. We got it all that evening under the silky big top as we were wined and dined, serenaded with song, and regaled with acrobatic feats on the stage below and in the air high above.
As soon as we were seated, we were served our appetizers: caramelized sweet onions, spinach, feta cheese, and roasted peppers wrapped in a flaky dough pyramid with a three-olive tapenade and served with a rich basil cream.
Then the wild rumpus started. A preposterously talented cast of characters wove a silly story of a chef named Caesar and "Love Spice" from Egypt that had to be brought from the desert to the Spiegeltent in their current offering titled, "Hail Caesar! Forbidden Oasis."
The main cast includes Andrea Conway Doba, Duo Madrona, Les Petits Frères, Frank Ferrante, Wayne Doba, Dreya Weber, and Vita. We were beyond impressed by their work, as well as that of the talented ensemble that served dually as performers and servers.
Mayhem and hilarity then ensued with dancing, singing, "magic tricks," aerial work, and lots of delightfully bad Vaudeville-style banter and jokes. It was so much fun. Like Cirque du Soleil, the B side.
The appetizer was followed by a delicious and creamy Egyptian yellow lentil soup with caraway cream and pita strips, which was followed by a salad of arugula and fresh green leaf lettuce with English cucumber, roma tomato, shaved sweet onion, Kalamata olives, brioche croutons, and lemon-tarragon vinaigrette.
We had a choice of three entrées that evening: the Kurobuta pork chop with what they call "Love Spice" topped with baked apple-mint sauce and served with roasted garlic-Parmesan mash and local seasonal mini vegetables; halibut with basil and fresh fig chutney, fine herbes couscous, and local seasonal mini vegetables; or roasted tomato and fennel quinoa stuffed pepper with a fresh cucumber raita, basil-fig tartlet, and citrus-dressed kale and pepper salad.
For dessert we were treated to a baklava of peach, ricotta, and pecan. It was rich and sticky and crisp and delightfully gooey, as any good baklava should be.
For a small upcharge, guests can also add apps, a bread basket, or a lobster to the prix fixe meal. Choices include warm fava bean spread served with thin slices of toasted pita chips or Kalamata olives, Marcona almond stuffed Medjool dates, or saffron chickpeas. Or they can enjoy a 6-ounce filet mignon with veal demi glaze for dinner as opposed to the earlier mentioned options.
The pork chop was tender and delicious and seemed a shame to miss since it was the special of the house. Teatro ZinZanni offers a full bar as well as show-themed cocktails.
Much to my delight, in the middle of the performance, guests are invited to slow dance with their partner, which my date and I were thrilled to do, giggling as we spun around the floor at the center stage edge, dreaming of far-flung adventures of our own awaiting us.
Teatro ZinZanni is funny and over-the-top and exploding with talented performers. The food is surprisingly good for a dinner theater-style venue and it’s hard not to get caught up in the magic and the romance, which, as I said, was exactly what we had in mind when we decided to run away with the circus for the night.