Sunday, September 14, 2008
Hey everyone. We're back. The hurricane madness seems to have passed. Luckily all friends and family are safe and unharmed, and no one we know even had any major property damage. In the meantime, we're having a blast hanging out with our refugee friends.
Anyways, this is a bit of old news, but I definitely wanted to write about our dinner at Zoot, before I forget. So, from what we understand, there is kind of a "big three" of Austin fine dining, and they are Uchi, Fonda San Miguel, and Zoot. We are planning on visiting all three in the upcoming months.
Overall, let me just say that Han and I have been to a modestly decent number of fine dining restaurants in Houston, and wow, Zoot pretty much blows all of them away.
Actually, let me clarify that a little first. I consider myself to be a "foodie" but by no means a food connoisseur. I love trying new and interesting dishes, and I always appreciate innovation over the same things over again, but I'm also not one to require the latest culture fusion dishes with trendy designer ingredients. Atmosphere is very important to me, and I like dining at upscale places, but I also feel really uncomfortable if the restaurant is stuffy or elitist.
Zoot is pretty much the perfect balance of everything. The restaurant itself is cozy and set inside of a house, kind of like Just Dinner in Houston. The interior was white table cloth and very classy, but comfortable enough that you'd still be ok wearing jeans.
But the reason this place was such a home run was the food. Some times when I've gone to expensive restaurants for dinner, I feel like I'm paying the extra money because whoever created the dish was more creative than someone else. The food at Zoot was like the work of a master artist, where the technique and craftsmanship were every bit as good as the creativity of the recipe. Every single bite we had was perfectly seasoned, perfectly textured, and perfectly prepared.
Zoot is famous for its Chef's Tasting Menu and its Farmer's Tasting Menu, but we kind of opted to build our own. We started out with a take on tomato basil soup with grilled cheese. The soup was savory, creamy, and flavorful, and the (minature) grilled cheese sandwich was perfectly buttered and lightly textured.
And then it was off to the second appetizer, foie gras, which I had for the very first time. Now, those of you who know me know that I try to be a good person. I recycle, I drive a hybrid, I donate to charity, and I love animals. But God help me, I feel awful saying this, but foie gras is DELICIOUS. (Veal is too, btw.) The foie gras is one of the specialties of Zoot, and it's not cheap, but I can definitely say it's worth the money. Unbelievably tender and fatty, it's hard not to just wolf it down in one bite.
Next came the entrees. I had the seared duck breast and Han had the roasted escolar. Like I said earlier, every single bite we had was both perfect and uniform. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy it. I apologize because the pictures of our dishes didn't turn out but they wouldn't have done justice anyways.
Lastly we finished it off with a french press of coffee and a salt toffee ice cream sandwich. Absolutely amazing. The mixture of sweet and salty made you pause when you tasted it because it was such an odd combination, but once you were done processing it, all you wanted to do was eat more.
509 Hearn St