Restaurant: Zac Jack’s Bistro
Address: 3275 Coach Lane in Cameron Park
Hours: Open Monday through Sunday, with breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m, lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner from 4 to 9 p.m.
One of my very first newspaper restaurant critiques was at a new restaurant located in San Diego, billing itself as “upscale.”
The meal consisted of five courses and the first one came on a plate no larger than the circumference of a tea cup. There was a very thin slice of raw fish, a garbanzo bean and a brush stroke of some orange sauce, with three decorative and edible flowers resting on the rim. I was informed that this appetizer was listed on the menu at $23. This was my first real introduction to so called ‘upscale’ or ‘fancy’ cuisine.
Upscale cuisine does not have to be pretentious or artsy; it just has to be good. And Zac Jack’s Bistro in Cameron Park is definitely good — much better than merely good as a matter of fact.
When our party sat down at the table we were greeted by our server, Brad.
We were excited by our server’s offerings but were even more amazed at the professionalism and knowledge Brad had on not just the menu but the extensive wine list as well.
It is definitely an art form and something a server needs to be passionate about. Never once did his dissertation on the specials and the wine list come across as a memorized script. His belief in his product and encyclopedic knowledge of the offerings were genuine and heartfelt.
The way he described the food, with enthusiasm and detail, painted a lovely picture of what to expect. He had our mouths watering by the end of it.
I can say without embellishment that Brad is one of the finest servers I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting in more than 20 years of doing restaurant reviews.
As one of my guest stated, “He’s a ‘servant’” — a “cross between a server and a savant.”
The phrase had me rolling but it was so apropos.
Two folks in our party had the jumbo prawns, two (including myself) had the calamari steak and one had the duck a l’orange.
The jumbo prawns looked and tasted, according to the two that ordered and devoured them, amazing. The dish was plentiful, artfully plated and seasoned just right so that my guests experienced different flavor profiles with each bite.
My calamari steak, delightfully dubbed “Calamari A La Luby Doo,” came with some of the best creamy potatoes au gratin I’ve ever had. The sautéed string beans were crisp and delectable. The fried calamari was tender and delicious. It was breaded and seasoned, not greasy or heavy in the slightest. I finished the whole thing in record time, naturally.
So now we come to dessert, something I don’t treat myself to that often but on this occasion I thought I’d enjoy, as did several others at my table.
I selected the carrot cake, which is four layers of home-made carrot tea cake with layers of tangy butter cream, finished with a cream cheese frosting and a chopped toasted walnut-praline crust.
It was large and decadent, and I’ll be enjoying the other half this weekend.
Another standout worth mentioning was the Gâteau St. Honoré. It was an absolute work of art. The menu describes it as a “pâte à choux pastry filled with vanilla crème patisserie, served over house-made caramel and milk chocolate sauces; garnished with whipped cream and a caramelized sugar cream puff.” Even with a description like that, it still doesn’t do enough justice to this confectionary marvel. You’ll have to experience it for yourself.
Visible from Highway 50 but tucked away in a corner at 3275 Coach Lane in Cameron Park, Zac Jack’s Bistro is a welcome addition to the growing list of fantastic restaurants in El Dorado County.
Zac Jack’s stands out not just for the marvelous food but also for the exemplary service. Brad is fantastic, yes, but all of the employees are held to just as high a standard and will make your visit a memorable one.
For reservations call 530-676-2969. Zac Jack’s is open Monday through Sunday, with breakfast served from 8 to 11 a.m, lunch 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner 4 to 9 p.m.