2137 2nd Avenue
Seattle WA 98121
American Done Right and the Crowds to Prove It
By: Steve G
Graduating from new kid on the corner to seasoned veteran, Restaurant Zoe has provided a cozy neighborhood experience in Belltown for over 7 years. On the menu, Chef Scott Staples offers up contemporary Northwest cuisine with a creativity that has resonated with the Seattle crowd.
When I walked into Restaurant Zoe , I instantly felt like the place was teeming with energy, as the place was packed wall to wall with people. There was a steady buzz of voices inside, and as I took a seat at the bar to wait for the rest of the review team, I took a few moments to survey the layout of the interior.
Restaurant Zoe has moderate floor space but maximizes it with as many tables as possible, causing some bad traffic problems. How bad can it get you ask? Well if you are unfortunately seated next to an aisle just as I was at our table, you might have servers constantly bumping into you in several contorted ways to deliver your food.
The inside of the Zoe gave me flashbacks of one of my college jobs at Banana Republic. The cream colored walls with lots of black and dark brown accents for second gave me the urge to sell someone a pair of lightweight wool slacks and sign them up for a BR card that would get them 10% off today's purchases. Then I came to my senses and realized I was only here to eat.
We started off the night with the Grilled Spicy Octopus ($11.00) and the Oregon Venison Terrine ($9.00) as appetizers. The grilled spicy octopus was remarkably tender and was served with pickled watermelon radish and a blood orange vinaigrette. Most of the time, octopus ends up being very touch and chewy, but Zoe's ended up being quite delightful. The pepper was lightly seasoned on top and gave the taste a tremendous kick. In fact, the only downside of the dish was that we wished we had more of it. The venison terrine came served with chestnuts, endive, chopped apples, and extra virgin olive oil. Terrine is usually game meat that has been minced, pressed and chilled. Some people call it the luxurious cold meatloaf and honestly, that's a fair assessment. The dish came with some thin crackers, but they seemed to break far too easily leaving us to turn to the bread as a better delivery device to our mouths.
For the entrees, I opted for the Roasted Pork Loin ($27.00) served on a smooth bed of polenta and figs. Some might argue that the pork is lackluster, but if you add in a little bit of the polenta, figs, and pickled cabbage you're in for a very flavorful experience. Bryan, with his love of game, ordered the Wild Boar Bolognese ($18.50). While it may have been the cheapest of the dishes on the table, it was a house specialty of Zoe. As the name Bolognese implies, it was a pasta dish with a rich meat sauce consisting of wild boar, slightly gamey, but not overwhelming to non-game meat eaters. Grant ordered the Colorado Lamb Loin ($33.00) that was served with caramelized sunchoke puree, braised sunchokes, oyster mushrooms, and golden raisins. Described as savory and well aged, it is best suited for those who like their meat a bit on the rare side.
For the most part, service was quite good. Aside from the occasional bump from the servers as they tried to squeeze past me, nothing of note really stood out. Waitstaff were a bit over eager to reload our plates with bread, but you can always decline if you have had your fill.
Aside from the tightly packed spaces and my own personal college job flashback, we had a reasonably fun experience at Restaurant Zoe. Compared to other places in Belltown, it has a really laid back feel that makes it a little more welcoming compared to other trendy spots in the area. The prices are on the high side, but if you don't mind spending the $25-30 per meal, you'll be in for a great time.