September 11, 2007

Restaurant Zoë: delicious, chic, a new favorite

I think I just found my new favorite restaurant in Seattle.

What makes this restaurant special? How about a talented chef-owner executing sophisticated dishes driven by top-quality, seasonal ingredients out of a gem of a space whose sleek interior design is due in large part to the chef's wife, an architect? A devotion to food as well as the art and craft of creating a superlative dining environment... I've only just dined here for the first time, but I get the feeling that's what this place is all about.

Without any formal culinary school background, Chef Scott Staples first began to hone his craft working for his father's restaurants in Colorado and continued with stints at a number of well-regarded restaurants in Colorado, and later, Boston. Perhaps his most significant traning took place during an apprenticeship in Milan with Chef Gualtiero Marchesi at his eponymous three-star restaurant. In 2000, he opened Zoë, named after his daughter, and has received consistently positive reviews ever since.

Oddly, the restaurant was only about half full on this Monday night... odd because the food we had that night was among the best we've eaten in Seattle.

fresh ricotta gnudi ~ tomato marmalade, corn citrus cream, tarragon
Traditional gnudi -- loosely translated as "nude ravioli" -- is a spinach and ricotta dumpling sans the pasta sheet (hence the name). Chef April Bloomfield reinterpreted the gnudi without the spinach and set off a limited gnudi craze in New York back in 2006. Here, the gnudi was prepared sans spinach, with the thinnest, delicately cooked exterior to the pillowy-soft ricotta. The tomato marmalade was surprisingly sweet, marrying beautifully with the anise-like waft of accompanying tarragon.

grilled spicy octopus ~ pickled watermelon radish, blood-orange vinaigrette
L noted that ever since our trip to Greece, we've been addicted to grilled octopus. The smoky char of the exterior has an incredible density of flavor with the sweet flesh of the octopus, which stays fantastically tender when cooked correctly. Zoe's verion is delicious, with the vinaigrette perfectly balanced in its sweet and tangy components, and the watermelon radish offering a crisp, refreshing counterpoint to the bold flavors.

crispy kurobuta pork belly confit ~ roasted peaches, parsley puree, endive
My mom used to make a rustic taiwanese dish with pork belly when I was a kid, which I loved. Now the rest of the world has caught up with this fantastic cut of pork. Zoe's version is wonderfully crispy and well seasoned, creating a perfect textural contrast to the ribbons of melting fat. Endive is a perfect pairing for the richness of this dish.

wild boar bolognese ~ arugula papparadelle
Ridiculously good and wildly addictive. An eye-opening revelation... right before your eyes subsequently glaze over in euphoric satisfaction. I could eat a lot of this...

haricot verts ~ pistachios, pickled cippolini onion, red wine vinaigrette
A simple accompaniment that was notable in the way the ingredients really did manifest a culinary synergy, the brightness of the pickled onions playing nicely off of the haricot verts, with the earthy rich flavor of the pistachios tying everything together. Simple, but skillfully conceived.

1989 Viader Proprietary Red (brought our own bottle)
A special bottle. This is the inaugural vintage of Viader, made exclusively of grapes from the estate's enviably situated property on Howell Mountain. Predominant flavors of bright cherry complemented by lush aromas of cedar and cigar box, with just a faint edge of mint on the finish. Surprisingly youthful for an 18-year-old vintage. A particularly killer match with the pork belly and wild boar. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc. 12.7% alcohol.

Restaurant Zoe in Seattle

1 comment:

  1. So glad you found Zoe, one of our old favorites. I used to joke that I loved their space so much, I'd happily live there. :)