ZOE: An American Bistro
Providing a wide variety for any palette
By Sarah Stryker | Email the author | December 13, 2010
Everyone has been there: It’s Saturday night and you want to go out to eat, but you cannot decide what you are in the mood for. My parents, brother and I went to Zoe, as we often do when we know we need a solid meal with no room for disappointment. As a BYOB restaurant, the sister of The Bistro in Red Bank has created eclectic twists on traditional dishes from Greek, Italian, American and Asian persuasions.
We arrived at the cozy restaurant with Penfolds Chardonnay, an Australian white wine with a subtle use of oak combined with melon, quince fruits and spicy aftertaste, and bottle of Castillo de Monseran Garnacha, a Spanish red wine that is soft but full flavored with a fruity finish. When seated, every customer at ZOE gets a basket of hot chewy bread with a crisp crust and garlic butter to spread. I immediately delved into the basket while sipping my wine and reading over the menu.
My mother, brother and I decided to share the Trio of Spreads as an appetizer. It was served with triangular cut grilled pita, served hot, with generous portions of their freshly made hummus, tzatziki and spicy Feta. The hummus was classically made but with a spicy finish. The Feta was creamy and spicy, balanced with a bold, tangy flavor. The tzatziki was not its traditional white watery consistency, but actually thicker and greener, perhaps due to less yogurt and more use of cucumber and parsley. To me, I prefer this version of it, and I actually ate more than I normally do when I have the traditional Greek appetizer. My Dad ordered a bowl of tomato basil soup to start, made with just enough cream to maintain the rich tomato color, topped with big, crunchy croutons – the perfect comfort food for winter.
The rest of the dinner menu is a lot to take in – in a great way. Whenever I go there, I am never sure what I am going to order, but I always make sure it’s something I have never had before. In the end, we all ended up ordering something different. My dad had the Panko Crusted Chicken. The crispy chicken is served over a bed of organic greens, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and a lemon-balasamic vinaigrette topped with shaved parmesan. This health-conscious dish combined a mouthful of heavenly flavors. My mother ordered Despina’ Moussaka with roasted eggplant, potato, tomato, ground beef and bechamel. This traditional Greek favorite is baked and served warm with hints of cinnamon. This is definitely a casserole that I would choose to eat during a snowstorm this winter.
To go truly American, my brother ordered their Kobe Burger, offering a ½ lb of Kobe beef, lettuce, tomato and cheddar on a brioche bun. The parmesan-herbed fries were crispy and a nice change from the common burger and fries you may typically expect.
Although there were many things on the menu I wanted to order, (in which case I will have to just keep going back to ZOE for more), I decided to order the pasta special. It was served with shrimp, prosciutto, basil and caramelized onions in a roasted tomato sauce. I never used to be a seafood eater, but I have recently started to like shrimp, so I decided to go for it. It was incredible. The sauce was fresh, garlicy and slightly spicy. I was very satisfied. To truly suit the dietary needs of any customer, ZOE has also provided an option for organic gluten-free pasta.
We ended the night with the sampling of two different desserts – the Chocolate Bombe and the Apple Cranberry Cobbler. The chocolate bombe was cake served warm with a molten lava center and a scoop of homemade chocolate ice cream. The chocolate was dark and bittersweet, dusted with powdered sugar. The Apple Cranberry Cobbler was a very generous dish, served hot. The cranberries were a nice pop of sour to cut the sweetness of the apple and cinnamon. The crumb topping and homemade vanilla ice cream made me feel like I was at home having Thanksgiving with my family. All in all, we had a very mouth watering experience, as we do every time we go to Zoe. We left happy with our bellies full, and leftovers to enjoy for lunch tomorrow.