Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Zoe's Kitchen (Giveaway!)

10000 Research Blvd
Austin, TX 78759

I was lucky enough yesterday to roll out of bed around 11 am, completely exhausted from ACL and think to myself "What is it I've planned to do today?" Oh yeah! Meet Maggie at Zoe's Kitchen for a preview!

Zoe's Kitchen is a new order at the counter casual Mediterranean restaurant in the Arboretum. Remember the days before the Domain when people regularly shopped at the Arboretum? Well, the place has had a lot of changes in the past few years, but one change I really appreciate is the restaurant additions (such as Kenobi opened in January 2008). Back in 2002 I lived nearby and the neighborhood was basically relegated to TGI Friday's and Z Tejas.

The restaurant is a chain that started in Birmingham, Alabama by a lady actually named Zoe. The cuisine reflects that as a southern take on broad generalized Mediterranean food.

A trip to Zoe's will get you vegetables, chicken, feta cheese, and olive oil served as a salad, skewers, pasta, pita or sandwich. It was good- but it was variations on a theme. If you aren't into those major ingredients, Zoe's isn't the place for you. I must admit, they have the vegetarian base covered, but they don't clearly mark the sneaky items. Beware of chicken broth in the rice pilaf, braised white beans and tomato soup.

Zoe's is optimal lunchtime material if you work in North Austin or if you are just too tired to cook and live in the area. You can order individual items or pick up meals for four or how ever many you want to feed. I could also see ordering this into the office meeting when you need to bribe your coworkers for their attendance. Here's some of the dishes we tasted on Monday.

Left: Steak rollups, rice pilaf. Center: Hummus salad plate. Right: Chicken skewers, salad.

Grilled chicken plate

Pita sandwich with pasta salad

Left: Reuben sandwich. Right: Grilled chicken Salad

I also ordered a Grilled Veggie stack (not pictured). The veggie stack is grilled portobello and zucchini, mozarella, caramelized onions, tomato, feta-parsley spread on focaccia. I give the feta-parsley spread two thumbs up. The focaccia bread was really thick, so be prepared for a carbfest.

Left: Order of hummus. Right: Veggie pita pizza.

The hummus was good, but the pita had much to be desired. Thank goodness it wasn't the normal pita bread they use. They told us their shipment hadn't arrived yet and that the bread they will be using is of much better quality. The pizza had a thin crispy crust just the way I like it. I think this would be my item of choice.

Spinach rollups served with salsa and side.

I wanted to like these spinach rollups, and I did... except for those damn canned mushrooms. HUGE pet peeve.

Chicken salad sandwich with side of braised white beans

Chocolate cake for dessert.

My vote on the cake? Fits the bill on chocolate-y and moist, but overall not really worth the calories.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention they have a small patio.

Proof that a small patio does exist.

Want to check out Zoe's for yourself? I'll give away coupons for two free entrees to one random commentor. You have until Friday to comment. I'll pick the winner by closing my eyes and then pointing to a random name on the screen. Don't forget to enter your email address. Posting as anonymous won't allow me to contact you. Good luck! And tell me something interesting!

Bottom Line: Generic Mediterranean food, perfect for quick lunch up north, easy take home or ordering mass quantities into the office.

Laura ~ 6