“When you hear hoofbeats,” the famous poetry-school adage goes, “don’t think zebras. Think black swans piloting Pegasuses.” Today’s Groupon takes your taste buds to new poetic heights: for $30, you get $75 worth of fine French cuisine and wine at Zebra Restaurant and Wine Bar near Southpark Mall.
Executive chef and owner Jim Alexander has created an upscale dining experience worthy of a world-class New York or London eatery, with a menu of contemporary French cuisine that remains accessible to all diners. Educated at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, Alexander has been widely recognized within the restaurant industry, including earning a stint on the 1996 gold-medal-winning US Culinary Olympic Team. His mastery of the kitchen shines not only in the well-flavored meals, but also in Zebra’s characteristic artistic presentation. Most dishes benefit from ambitiously sculpted food combinations, each a brilliant array of colors, shapes, and textures.
Begin your meal with one of the excellent appetizers, such as the seared Hudson Valley foie gras ($18), served with Parisianne apples, black Oregon truffles, and celeriac mash. Entrees include the flavorful lamb tenderloins “Diablo” ($39) and the popular Zebra Signature ($44): a French take on surf-and-turf with beef tenderloin, lobster, shrimp, and scallops served over a bed of angel-hair pasta and tarragon white wine. Endings come together sweetly with French flair in desserts such as the frozen soufflé glace of Grand Marnier. In addition to these fine dinner options, Zebra also serves breakfast and lunch, including sophisticated sandwiches like the petite filet of beef tenderloin on a toasted English muffin ($11.95).
Any French restaurant worthy of its foie gras needs a stellar wine list, and Zebra scores on that mark, too, earning an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator in 2009. Zebra boasts an extensive wine list with more than 900 bottles. Its selection draws heavily from American reds, with France naturally well represented, along with Spain, Italy, South America, and Australia. Plenty of bottles fall within the $10 to $100 range, alongside much pricier finds. Zebra’s décor reflects subtly on both its name and French focus, with elegant black-and-white furnishings overseen by charming, blonde woodwork evocative of an upscale safari lodge. A large zebra painting oversees the dining area, near a rustic rock wall set between wooden wine cabinets. Warmer weather opens up the lush patio, where charming metalwork furnishings sit atop a brick floor.
Citysearch named Zebra Best Charlotte French Food in 2009, and Citysearchers love the fine-dining atmosphere and give it four stars: > * Fine dining has become a hobby for my wife and I and we’ve had the Chef’s tasting menu with wine pairing multiple times and every time the food (and wine) was fantastic. Chef Alexander has to be one of the very best chefs in Charlotte; this is the restaurant that we compare all others to. It’s classic French cooking done very well. – shannonrsmith, Citysearch
The Charlotte Observer likes Zebra’s casual elegance: > * From soup to nuts - or amuses-gueules to mignardises, if you prefer - co-owners Pete Pappas and Jim Alexander are creating an experience no one else in town is attempting: a blend of the formal and the accessible in contemporary French food. And it works. – Helen Schwab, Charlotte Observer
Six Yelpers give it 3.5 stars, and 76% of Urbanspooners like it: > * I’m not into the high end dining experience as most have come up far short of my expectations. Zebra is a welcome change. The menu is well matched for the common person’s pallet but with enough challenge that you will appreciate the artistry involved. I like the Angel Hair Basket which is surf and turf like you’ve never experienced before. – Jim Rorie, Urbanspoon
4521 Sharon Rd.
Charlotte, North Carolina 28211Get Directions