“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.” - William Blake
By Nicole Lisson
- The Capitol Hill Times -
Scott Staples is no stranger to the Capitol Hill dining scene. He owns Quinn’s Pub on East Pike but he is best known for Restaurant Zoe, which was stationed in Bell Town for 11 years until this past June when it moved to its new location on 14th and East Union. The other night, my boyfriend and I had the pleasure of dining there.
When you enter the courtyard, you feel like you have been transported to the rural countryside. There is an edible garden overflowing with fresh herbs and a metal awning that leads you into the spacious interior. Farmhouse chic is the only way I can describe it. Jarred vegetables sit on a wood-framed bookshelf, separating the kitchen from the dining room while exposed light bulbs hang overhead creating a soft ambiance of light. It’s modern meets country. Stepping inside, we were greeted by a gracious host and asked if we would like to sit in their all-season patio. Since it was a rare balmy night in Seattle, we gladly accepted.
Windows flanked all sides of the sun house letting in a delightful breeze. When we sat down, three pieces of focaccia bread flaked with sea salt and rosemary appeared on our plates. The balsamic with shallots was the perfect dipping sauce. Perusing the drink menu, I saw they carried an impressive bar selection but also a variety of non-alcoholic beverages. For me, this was a huge plus. I strongly dislike alcohol so usually whenever I go to a restaurant, it’s either water or soda. I chose the Cranberry Orange Crush ($3.50) made with cranberry-orange syrup served tall on the rocks with a splash of soda fizz and an orange twist. A subtle taste of orange lingered in the background while fresh cranberries gathered on the bottom.
The menu contained an overwhelming number of choices. There were snacks, small plates, soups and salads, large plates, cheeses and sides to choose from. Thankfully, the knowledgeable waitress pointed out her top three favorites, and trusting her opinion, I went with the Nectarine and Prosciutto salad ($12), and the Spicy Wild Boar Bolognese ($12). My boyfriend ordered the Painted Hills burger ($15).
We snacked on a complimentary tuna tartar with black garlic and fresh peaches as we waited for our meal to arrive. The garlic took over the show, dominating the other flavors; it was too bad because on paper, the dish sounded excellent. I soon forgot about the lackluster start to our meal when the salad was served. Beautiful pink prosciutto draped over the sinfully sweet nectarines, all held in a makeshift bowl of endive. I cleaned the plate and wished for more.
The main courses also impressed. Paper-thin arugula pappardelle swam in melt-in-your-mouth wild boar Bolognese sauce. Chili flakes added a nice heat to the dish. My one complaint was that it was a tad bit too salty for my liking, though for a salt addict, this would be perfect. My boyfriend loved his burger; I, on the other hand, wasn’t impressed. Scott Staples also owns Uneeda Burger in Fremont where for $10.50, you can get a bacon-infused burger topped with goat cheese, smoked onion marmalade and greens. Compare that to the $15 burger at Zoe, which is topped with smoked onion jam and cantal. I would save my pennies for Uneeda Burger.
Our bellies were stuffed by the time our main courses were finished, but we didn’t let that get in the way of ordering dessert. Andrea Terrenzio, the pastry chef, has always been an icon to me. She has worked at some of the best restaurants around including Rovers and Café Campagne. Her desserts bring creativity to new heights. I’ll stop gushing and get to it already. I ordered The Blueberry Lemon Fool, Lemon Verbena Granita, Graham cracker Tuile ($6) and The Salt and Pepper Caramel’s ($4). When I go out to eat, I like to order items I wouldn’t be able to make at home. That’s why the Blueberry Lemon Fool fell short for me. Reduced Blueberries were layered with lemon whipped cream with a touch of granita. The caramels, on the other hand, were outstanding; buttery, salty and had a nice kick from the pepper. When all was said and done, our dinner for two came out to $98.00 dollars including tip. A bit steep for a poor writer like me, but for special occasions, Restaurant Zoe is well worth the trip.
1318 East Union Street