Virginia Beach Restaurant Week: Zoës
Zoës and I have met before. Once over dessert and another for a special evening in celebration of getting engaged to my honey. It only seemed appropriate for my husband and me to revisit Zoës for their three-course menu in participation with Virginia Beach Restaurant Week.
We ordered a couple glasses of malbec, then visited the menu for some serious decision making. After chewing on the juicy descriptions of the Kim Chee Eggroll and Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Chorizo, we each agreed on the third option of Low Country Mussels for the first course.
A dozen or so mussels were delivered in a creamy, aromatic broth carrying salty lardons—or pork fat—and smoked tomatoes. Atop the mussels floated an airy foam that was their version of a honey-lemon cream. Served with green-onion spirals and a trio of thinly sliced, toasted sourdough, this dish was somewhat akin to a bouillabaisse.
Next was the Southern Caesar. A spear of chargrilled romaine laid across a stroke of smoky, sweet anchovy-bacon jam. Draped just so were thin slabs of burnt parmesan with a tangy roasted garlic dressing. Against the beige and greens of this salad palette was a pickled quail nicely juxtaposed with its bold magenta and saltiness to contribute to an otherwise smoky salad. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the Southern Caesar was the crispy, dense cornbread crostini cubes with fresh sweet corn in the center. Sweet, breaded perfection.
After the mussels, salad and even the homemade foccacia they delivered in between, I felt confident to take on course three—the Burgundy Braised Lamb Shank. Little did I know, the chefs were working up something majestic, both in presentation and in size. Standing at about five inches above the plate, the lamb shank peered over what appeared to be and tasted like cooked carrots was actually salsify, a root vegetable. When I took my fork to dive into the lamb shank, it gently cascaded down the bone; I was befuddled, wondering how the tender lamb held on for so long. Peeling off the bone, the lamb fell into a buttery sauce with a ripple of basil olive oil on the outskirts.
While it probably wasn’t the wisest choice for my belly, I like to think I always have reserved room when it comes to dessert. I landed on the Vanilla Apple Sundae with a side of vanilla ice cream. Served in a tall glass, the sundae was a layered heaven of caramel poached apples, hot, cakey apple doughnut pieces, pickled mouth-puckering cherries and lemon bourbon shortbread all topped off by a boozy mascarpone mousse and crispy apple slice. There were no regrets here.
Neither of the dishes seemed like they’d been repeated, which is clearly the case during restaurant week. Each dish from the mussels to dessert was carefully catered to in flavor and detailed subtle touches, like the charred herb mix dusted on the edge of the lamb shank’s plate. One thing’s for certain, Zoës does not skimp on the portions or presentation.
Virginia Beach Restaurant Week continues until January 19th. Visit their website to view a list of participating restaurants and their oh-so-scrumptious prix fixe menus.