Through Thick and Zin

After restaurateur Alex Pryor sold his stylish Crossroads restaurant Zin (1900 Main) to chef Michael Smith (formerly of 40 Sardines, which is still overseen by chef Debbie Gold, Smith’s ex-wife), the Zin staff quickly found jobs at other restaurants.

Some of them didn’t seem to work out that well. One former Zin waiter was fired from a midtown bistro after a midshift argument at the bar with that joint’s owner. “It was better than dinner theater,” an observer of the fracas says, “but not as funny, unfortunately, as an episode of Will & Grace.”

Zin executive chef Karl Martens landed in a happier environment as the new executive chef of Café Trio (3535 Broadway). That restaurant’s three owners — Chris Youngers, Tai Nguyen and Al Ritchie — have given him permission to make creative menu changes. But not right away. Youngers says he has asked Martens to “ride out” the first month and first learn how to make all the restaurant’s signature dishes — the macaroni and cheese, the pistachio-encrusted tilapia and the rack of lamb — before overhauling the Café Trio menu.

Because Café Trio does a lot more volume on a weekend night than Zin did, Martens has had to hit the ground running. “The good news is that Karl has a lot of great ideas, and he’ll bring a lot to our restaurant,” Youngers tells me.

Martens replaced longtime Café Trio chef Eric Argie, who left a few weeks ago. Café Trio turns three years old this month, and Youngers says there are plans in the works to celebrate the anniversary. But those plans don’t include lunch. Youngers still resists the idea of opening for lunch, even though the new Federal Reserve Bank will bring many new employees to the neighborhood.

“Tai wants to do a Sunday brunch, too,” Youngers says, “but I told him I’d only consider that if he actually hosted one every Sunday for four weeks in his own home for 15 people. I don’t think he realizes how much work is involved or how tired we all are on Sunday mornings. Saturday night is our busiest night of the week.”

And after putting in a stressful week, it’s nicer to have a zen Sunday than a Zin one.

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