Eric Weinstein has been working in restaurants since he was 14 years old. Eleven years ago, he bought the Hyde Park favorite Zudar’s, named for its original founders. “I kept the name, since generations of locals have grown up enjoying some of the original items on the menu,” Weinstein says. Weinstein has made a few changes, like a complete remodel of the restaurant, and has added dishes to the menu that he hopes will become favorites for new generations.
How did you get into cooking?
It’s a passion. My mother and grandmother were big influences on me. My grandmother was a fantastic scratch cook and baker so from an early age I had an interest in preparing food which my mother supported and nurtured.
How did you get into the restaurant business?
A family friend was a restaurant manager at a large, very busy local institution where I grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J., outside of Philadelphia. I started working in the kitchen at 14 years old and knew instantly the professional kitchen was where I wanted to be. After high school, I did an apprenticeship with a European pastry chef who taught me what work ethic was (among many other things). Afterward I went to the Culinary Institute of America and earned a degree in culinary arts and have been involved in food and beverage operations ever since.
What is your favorite small plate from another restaurant?
My wife and I enjoy going to St. Pete. We like to go to Hawkers Asian Street Fare and get the pork belly steamed baos. Between the soft steamed bun, crunchy veggies and the pork belly, the mouth-feel is just fantastic. It’s a great blend of sweet and savory flavors and [a great] consistency.
What should a first-time visitor to your restaurant try?
We offer things that can’t be found elsewhere. So, I usually suggest the beef and cabbage soup, our handmade deep-dish quiches, unique entrée salads like our ensalada de Cuba, house smoked chicken wings with our freshly made bleu cheese dressing, meatloaf with fresh mashed potatoes or mac & cheese, or our mesquite smoked and roasted tenderloin medallions or smoked brisket. We are also known for our decadent desserts, like coconut cream pie with a fresh pastry cream and mountain of meringue, chocolate peanut butter pie and bacon laced fudge brownies.
For a restaurant to be around for 50 years is very impressive. What is about Zudars that you think brings people back and has made it a Hyde Park staple?
Our large menu offers something for everyone but it's the food quality, friendly service and value that keep people returning. We have a loyal following and have customers who eat here almost daily. With the remodel, it has a comfortable relaxed and casual environment with parking, so it's an easy in and out experience.
Zudar’s on Platt
201 W. Platt St.
Hawkers Asian Street Fare
1235 Central Ave.