UPDATE: It is with honest sadness that I have to post that Restaurant Zoe has permanently closed. You can still visit their website and reach out to them via their new events company!
Right before I moved, I had a couple of restaurants that were on my Seattle bucket list that needed to be checked off. One of which was Restaurant Zoë, a Capitol Hill neighborhood gem that I had visited during Seattle Restaurant Week and fallen in love with. Mondays is their half price wine nights, and we were excited to try some of their curated bottles for an unheard of price. Upon arrival, we sat outside since the Seattle summer had been so warm and the cool breeze was a welcomed dinner guest. Out waiter greeted us, brought us the wine list and we noticed almost immediately that it looked like they had changed their Monday wine nights to a much smaller selection (at least the selection of what we were looking for) than when we had been there a few months prior.
My only criticism of the whole evening was the response we got when we asked if they had any special bottles of wine in the back that they were looking to have someone drink. We were clearly fine with paying more for a bottle of wine and the response was a flat out, “No.” We were then informed that the Sommelier was not there on Monday nights so the waiter didn’t feel comfortable with recommending wines or grabbing anything special. Wouldn’t it make sense that on a wine night the sommelier was there to help with any questions, especially for the waiters that didn’t have as much wine knowledge?
We had already selected a bottle of wine as a “backup” which actually can’t be seen as a backup because anyone who would call a bottle of Gaja a backup is crazy. We tried their 2011 Gaja Sito Moresco and after we let it decant and breathe for about 30 minutes, this beautiful ruby wine was divine. Per our usual dining out routine, we ordered an appetizer, three different entrees and two different desserts to maximize our tasting options. For our appetizer we shared their Burrata and Heirloom Tomato salad, which was complemented with basil, cashews, grilled bread and caper vinaigrette. The heirloom tomatoes were perfectly ripe and so sweet, which was the perfect pair to the saltier creamy burrata. This is an appetizer that I would order as a main course and add some small protein serving to for a perfect summer meal. After our lovely salad, and with our wine being nice and open, our main entrees came to the table. I had ordered their starter Spicy Wild Boar Bolognese, which in my opinion is one of the best comfort foods there is. The pasta was an arugula pappardelle accompanied with chili flakes and Parmegiano Reggiano, topped with the most melt-in-your-mouth wild boar Bolognese I have had outside of Italy. I cannot rave about this pasta enough and would recommend this to anyone who goes to the restaurant. The other two main courses were the Short Ribs that were presented more like beef tenderloin and the Duck Breast. We also ordered a side of grilled broccolini with nam pla aioli and golden raisins for a hint of green in the meal. The short ribs sat on a bed of roasted cauliflower, dandelion greens, raspberry chimichurri and topped with fried leeks. The duck breast was presented with a base of semolina spaetzle, salt roasted peaches and a charred fennel pistou. Each of the meat courses was very different and the ingredients used to highlight the meat did an extraordinary job of complementing the dishes.
Not being a family to pass us dessert, we settled first on the Peach Tart with Vanilla Crème Anglaise, caramel corn, almond streusel and sweet corn ice cream. Second, we decided on the Greek Yogurt Semifreddo with cucumber-mint granita, coconut, honey and compressed melon. Both desserts, especially having them explained to us, felt like we were on an episode of Chopped, not really knowing how these random ingredients were going to come together for a wonderful dessert. Each bite brought a new flavor and, in the end, it was impressive how well these desserts turned out. If I had to pick favorites from the dinner, I would order the Burrata and Heirloom Salad, Wild Boar Bolognese and the Peach Tart. The wine was wonderful and perfectly accompanied the entrees we had selected.
I hope Restaurant Zoë has a long future ahead of them because both of the meals I have now had have been incredible. Their courage to try new flavors and incorporate ingredients you wouldn’t think of right away is something that will hopefully keep them new and exciting for years to come!