Stepping through the door of Zuzu’s Petals, customers are transported to a small cafe in Paris. The dim lighting mixed with Etta James’ voice pouring out of the speakers creates an atmosphere that draws customers in, inviting them to sit down and stay for a while.
Bobby MacLean and Alexandra Whisnant opened the new wine and dessert bar in Cambridge in July, deciding to break into the restaurant world together after running separate shops in Somerville. Whisnant owns gâté comme des filles, a small chocolate shop with many loyal customers, and MacLean runs Picnic & Pantry, a locally sourced grocery store.
Despite being MacLean and Whisnant’s first restaurant, even at 5:30 p.m., a relatively early time for dinner, the bar was filled. The restaurant has a relatively small, yet charming, eight-table interior, but this small scale could intimidate customers who are wary of COVID-19. To ameliorate the tight interior spacing, outdoor seating provides a space for patrons to dine in the open air.
One can hardly argue that this was a smart adjustment, as nearly every table was filled with someone enjoying wine, cheese, and dessert.
MacLean and Whisnant’s previous ventures certainly played a role in drawing customers in, which helped to counteract the difficulty that opening during a pandemic poses. One customer, Amanda, claimed that she came in specifically because of the owners.
“I knew the owner’s other place, gâté comme des filles, so when I heard this was opening I had to come try it out,” Amanda said.
Upon entering the restaurant, a basket of fresh baguettes sitting in the corner immediately gives the space a quaint Parisian feel.
It is impossible to leave this restaurant without getting one of its cheese boards, with most tables opting for the restaurant’s two cheeses, jam, and half a baguette board. Upon ordering customers are allowed to choose from the restaurant’s wide variety of cheeses served with fresh jam.
The Grey Barn’s Bluebird and Cricket Creek Farm’s Maggie’s Round are two house favorite cheeses that offer a perfect balance of sharp and mild flavors to go with the sour taste of the cherry jam that it is paired with.
A strict no-phone policy is implemented to encourage conversation and protect the ambiance. The policy prevented any pictures of the food, but rest assured the food looks as picturesque as can be expected from a dessert and wine bar so meticulously planned.
After filling half your stomach with cheese, it is time to move on to dessert, where customers can choose from any of the restaurant’s four options of tiramisu, chocolate mousse, almond torte, or crème brûlée. Each option can serve at least two people, but it is difficult to not want to try each.
“We got the crème brûlée and the chocolate mousse,” another patron, Lindsay, said. “Both were so good but my favorite was probably the crème brûlée.”
Lindsay’s friend, Molly, however, declared that the chocolate mousse was better.
“It looks like it would be ice cream but it is so rich and fluffy!” Molly said.
Watching as desserts are brought to each table makes saying no to dessert impossible. Customers that indulge will leave with no regrets.
For customers over 21, Zuzu’s Petals offers a wide variety of wine options ranging from $12 to $36 per glass. Under each food item on the menu, there is a suggested wine pairing, ensuring that you will get the most for your money.
With its combination of food, drinks, and atmosphere, there is no doubt that Zuzu’s Petals will become a staple of Cambridge.
Featured Image by Aman Sinha / For The Heights