There was a time when it was rare to spot a creature like Zebra’s Bistro and Wine Bar beyond city limits. Zebra’s opened in Medfield in 1999, when suburban restaurant meals often came packaged in greasy cardboard containers. That’s not the case anymore. For a restaurant critic, one of this year’s refrains is “Fine dining takes over the suburbs.” City rents are sky high, and the existing market in surrounding towns is finally being recognized. How nice to go out for dinner without a long drive for dessert.
But if Zebra’s is no longer an exception, it is still notable. Executive chef Brendan Pelley took the helm last year, bringing with him experience at restaurants including Clio, Summer Winter in Burlington, Tryst in Beverly, the Franklin Cape Ann and Alchemy in Gloucester, and the Stonehedge Inn & Spa in Tyngsborough — a veritable tour of fine dining beyond Boston city limits. Set Zebra’s more centrally, though, and it would fit right in, with local-beer dinners, produce grown in its own kitchen garden, and relationships with area farms.