Jim and I do not have weekly or monthly date nights. We don’t have the need and, let’s face it, we’re not that organized. That said, we do like to find some dedicated time to spend together, alone, without errands, home projects, or work getting in the way. As I’m off on another California adventure today through Monday and flying solo this time, we decided to go out to dinner for my last night in town. Our pick? Restaurant Zoe. Not a new restaurant, but new to us.
Zoe builds its menus around local produce and seasonal ingredients so it fits well within my attempts to eat locally and seasonally. I started with a creamy, perfectly flavored winter squash soup topped with crème fraîche in an elegant pattern and he started with fresh ricotta gnudi – basically, little pillows of cheese accented with a beet emulsion and orange reduction. I paired my soup with a white Rhone wine and Jim had a Cote de Rhone.
For our entrees we collectively chose the “Whole Hog” and the Painted Hills Beef Shortrib. The short rib was falling apart tender and the thick sweetness of its sauce was nicely accented by braised cauliflower and watercress. The “Whole Hog” was a crispy package of braised pork (almost pulled pork like within) on a bed of kale, black-eyed peas, currants and apples. I preferred the short rib, my husband preferred the pork – we both declared them very well prepared, interesting and satisfying entrees. The Sangiovese I had with the short rib was a nice medium bodied wine that stood up well to the short rib and the pork.
We finished the meal with malted vanilla ice cream for him and gingerbread with butter pecan ice cream and a ginger caramel sauce for me. Yum. His malted ice cream had a subtle richness and my gingerbread actually tasted like ginger (unlike the from the box varieties I was inundated with as a child).
Our take? The food was inventive, well prepared and the portions were big enough to be filling but not so big that you felt like you needed to be rolled out of the restaurant at meal’s end. Our server was amazing, and I used to waitress, so I think I can say that with some credibility. The ambience was lively and yet designed in a manner that you didn’t feel intruded upon by other diners. We will definitely be going back, so I guess that says it all.