Restaurant Zoe

So for our first dinner in Seattle, we decided to go with Restaurant Zoë.  This was Dumpling Man’s choice, and what a nice choice it was.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say it beats a place like Providence or comes anywhere near it, but it definitely holds its own.  Fresh ingredients, simple but spot on flavors, lovely service and dining ambience.  Perfect for a nice date!

Salmon Tartar (amuse bouche) plums, cucumbers

A quick simple bite of raw salmon, plums, and cucumbers on a crostini.   I’m not a huge fan of salmon, cooked or raw.  If I eat it, it usually has to be the best freaking piece of salmon ever for me to give it my full stamp of approval.  This tasted too salmony for my liking.  Not a bad start though.

Fresh Ricotta Gnudi red beet puree, truffle salt, cripy sage

Everyone raved about this thing called “gnudi.”  I’ve eaten a lot of foods, but I have never come across gnudi before.  It turns out to be similar to gnocchi but made from ricotta instead of potatoes.  They are a bit more delicate than gnocchi, which can be pretty hardy and substantial.  They were pretty tasty, a cross between pasta and cheese.  They had the light creaminess of ricotta with just a hint of the cheese’s natural texture.  They also had a bit of chewiness from the pasta element.  They were very nice.  The red beet puree had a notable richness to it, like there was a fair amount of butter?  It was a good dish but at $8.50, man thats almost $2 per gnudi!  Ridiculous.  

Organic Beets compressed apples, bibb lettuce, creamy blue cheese dressing

Crazy for beets!  This dish fell a bit short on the beets.  There was much more lettuce than anything else with an occasional beet here and there.  It was a nice salad but I’ve had better.  

Spicy Wild Boar Bolognese arrugula pappardelle, chili flakes, shaved parmesan 

This was another one of their signature dishes.  I can’t say I tasted anything distinctly “wild boar” like to the dish, but I really liked it in the end.  It had a delicate blend between tomato and some cream tempered throughout.  It added a delicate richness.  The pappardelle were freshly made and perfectly al dente.  I liked the occasional sharpness provided by the arugula.  You are looking at a half serving because the waitress nicely had the chef split this dish and our entree dish for us to share like civilized human beings.  Although the dish was very simple, it was perfectly executed.

Butternut Squash Soup (intermezzo) creme fraiche

I’ve never had an intermezzo before!  It was a nice little addition.  The soup was good, but nothing special.

Thundering Hooves Braised Beef roasted idaho potato, fennel, preserved lemon, horseradish 

A well executed piece of braised beef.  It was tender and juicy without being overly fatty.  It was served atop a bed of fennel and spinach that was dressed with lemon and a kick of horseradish.  The salad provided a wonderful contrast of flavor.  The roasted Idaho potato was perfectly crisp and seasoned.  Overall, the dish was a refined version of your normal meat and potatoes with a side salad.  The flavors were clean and complementing.  Don’t be alarmed, this was another dish we split so you’re looking at a half portion.

“Menage A Poire” poached pear gingercake, pear-vanilla panna cotta, pear sorbet, caramelized pear

As fancy and complicated as the dessert sounds, it actually was not that good, nor was it “dirty” for all the naughty people out there.  The pear sorbet was icy and as far as I’m concerned, the success or failure of many things like ice cream, custard, etc relies heavily on texture.  The sorbet sat atop finely brunoise pears that were caramelized, and unfortunately pretty unexciting.  The gingercake tasted homemade, which is not necessarily negative but I certainly expect something a bit more refined at a top restaurant.  The best part of the meal was the panna cotta; light, not too sweet with a nice blend of pear and vanilla flavors.  Our server asked how the dessert was and we told her about the icy sorbet.  She was quite apologetic and perplexed as the pastry chef was quite known for her sorbet.  She actually came back with a generous sampling of some other sorbet which was much richer, less icy, and maybe a little too sweet for my taste.  She was well rewarded for her thoughtfulness and great service!

Mango Jellies (mignardise)

Not so bad, not so great either.

All in all, the meal was quite nice.  It obviously did not hurt that Dumpling Man did a great job ordering wine for our meal, which always enhances the dining experience.  The food was simple but refined and perfectly executed.  Very rarely do I experience food like this with just me and one other person.  Often times, I’m eating with family, friends, or with pharm reps.  Somehow the whole experience changes when it’s just you and someone else who equally loves the food and wine.  I recommend this place if you visit Seattle, but keep in mind, the food is what it is.  No tricks.  No gimmicks.  Just fresh ingredients done right, but at a high price tag.  Damn you 5 little gnudi!

Restaurant Zoë

2137 2nd Ave

Seattle, WA 98121

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