Monday, October 5, 2009

Zoës Kitchen

Fresh off yet another exhausting ACL (the mud was only half of the issue for us...), we were happy that the folks from Zoë's Kitchen invited us for a preview of their food before the official grand opening.

This is the second member of the ever-expanding Washington corridor in Houston to make its way over to Austin (see Max's Wine Dive), but unlike Max's, Zoës Kitchen also has franchises all over the deep south.

The premise is pretty simple: inexpensive, "light" Mediterranean-style cooking in a casual setting. Will the Austin market ever be saturated with healthy restaurants with eco-friendly packaging? You guys tell us. But located up in the Arboretum, where the closest restaurant neighbors are T.G.I. Friday's and Macaroni Grill, I would say there's probably room for at least one more.

Out of what we had, we particularly enjoyed the Steak Roll-ups ($7.65, pictured left) which, by itself, was a bit like a quesadilla with steak and mushrooms, but is really put over the top with the dipping sauce that comes with it. Also delicious were the sides we had, especially the roasted vegetables and the pasta salad. In fact, if you truly wanted to eat inexpensively and healthy, ordering 3 side dishes ($1.99 per side) wouldn't be a bad way to go. The hummus was also incredibly fresh and tasty and heavily recommended ($4.45, pictured right, with the Greek salad). I only wish that the pita it came with tasted as fresh as the hummus.

We also had the Grilled Chicken Dinner ($8.95) which was also quite good, but wasn't necessarily unlike anything you would eat at home either. The Chicken and Orzo soup ($2.95 per bowl) was a savory, dressed-up version of a Campbell's chicken broth.

The only real downside to what we tried was the tomato bisque, which was far too salty for someone with high blood pressure like myself. Han ended up enjoying it more as condiment with the steak roll-ups.

The vibe is a little chain-y, but perfect for a healthy and inexpensive break from shopping, if you're in the area. It's also kid friendly, and in my opinion would be a great place to take a lunch date.

Zoës Kitchen
10000 Research Boulevard