Last week, Zeal Restaurant opened in Marietta, in an inconspicuous shopping center on Johnson Ferry that also houses Red Sky Tapas, Aurelio’s Pizza, Bagelicious, Ali’s Cookies, and other fantastic, I-can’t-believe-this-is-in-Marietta restaurants. Zeal takes the place of Empress of China II, which shuttered this past May.
The menu features farm-to-table fare from executive chef Eric Mulville–items like ribeye, jumbo shrimp, scallops, catfish and more. The bar boasts a wide selection of craft beers on tap and in bottles, including selections from local breweries like Wild Heaven, Sweetwater and Terrapin. The ambiance is a kind of “squeaky-clean rustic” look, but when it comes to eateries, squeaky-clean is always a bonus. Overall, the restaurant has a feel that is sort of reminiscent of nearby-neighbor Seed, but based on the popularity of Seed it seems like there can be more than one. The menu is supposedly “designed for sharing,” although we’ll see how that goes over time. (Sharing is caring, but touch my steak and I will cut you.) Also impressive: the comfy couches in the lounge area and large patios (which may be less impressive when the temperature isn’t 70 degrees).
Consumed and enjoyed: goat cheese grit fritters, ribeye with blue cheese grits, grilled catfish and strawberry cheesecake. The steak wasn’t the best ever, but it was still good. The cheesecake was surprisingly creamy.
Verdict: worth the trip OTP, if only for something slightly different because you’ve already tried all the other farm-to-table joints ITP.