Friday, January 24, 2014

Zoës Kitchen Food Review

Potomac, Maryland. Home to Zoës Kitchen, a fast casual chain restaurant so good... you'd actually visit Potomac to eat there. When it comes to food, I like it simple, tasty and relatively inexpensive: Zoës is all three, and then some.

Admittedly off the beaten track (Harris Teeter, a few other restaurants, lots of apartments) this mini-neighborhood should appoint Zoës its anchor. That's because Zoës is the kind of place you want to visit 2-3 times a week. For starters, their food is delicious & healthy. Second, it has great soup and killer hummus. Third... You need a third? The menu is varied: You won't get tired of it sooner than later. Fourth (I'm They're on a roll) they even have a trademark dessert (more on that later.)

Hummus & Pita

Zoës' spacious dining area is laid out perfectly, and allows one to mull over the restaurant's expansive menu while waiting in line. I decided to take a tapas approach to ordering (i.e. one of everything) and chose a cup of Chicken & Orzo soup, and an order of Hummus & Pita to start. For my entree... a Chicken & Steak Kabob, with pasta salad instead of a side Greek salad. And to wash it all down... Zoës' Fresh Squeezed Limeade. Yum. No dessert yet; but I changed my mind towards the end of the meal.

Chicken & Orzo Soup

My first sip of Zoës' Limeade was (no pun intended) sublime. Crazy fresh, and bursting with lime flavor: I highly recommend it. Next up, Hummus & Pita. The pita bread is thicker (and chewier) than most, but perfectly cooked with a delicate char. I actually prefer it to the thinner variety, I've grown used to. The hummus is super rich and delicious: I sopped all of it up in two minutes flat.

On to the soup, a Chicken & Orzo combo that had double the amount of chicken to orzo (an interesting ratio... usually it's the other way around) along with heaping amounts of fresh carrots, celery and onions. The soup had a zesty taste to it, without being too salty. Two packs of Nabisco Premium Saltines easily passed our unofficial "fresh test." Hummus & soup makes an interesting opening combo. Zoës also has a Tomato Bisque on the menu that looks pretty delicious too.

Chicken & Steak Kabob with Pasta Salad

After ordering, I took a seat and waited for my food (Zoës provides table-side service.) My Chicken & Steak Kabob looked beautiful, atop perfectly-prepared brown rice. Best of all, I was allowed to replace the normal Greek salad with a far more colorful (and appetizing) pasta salad. This isn't your typical pasta salad (fresh pasta, basil, tomatoes and feta cheese crumbles... with no mayo or vinaigrette.) It's not even their top-selling side (Braised White Beans) but I find that hard to believe. I absolutely loved it.

As for the kabobs, the chicken was incredibly moist, and well-seasoned. Ditto for the steak, which was loaded with flavor. I prefer chicken, but it makes sense to have both for variety's sake. Kabobs are relatively standard fare; but it's amazing how many times I've been served ones that were over or undercooked. Not the case here. I can't wait to come back and try their Shrimp Kabob. FYI - They also have Vegetarian Kabobs... if meat and/or fish isn't your thing (poor you.)

Ya-Ya's Handmade Chocolate Cake

At this point, you could have rolled me out to the parking lot; but I've heard all kinds of good things about their chocolate cake. Not any ordinary cake, mind you... but Ya-Ya's Handsome Chocolate Cake. With a name like that, I just had to try it. Good thing I did: It's absolutely yummy. It's nice & moist without a whole lot of sweetness (but plenty of good taste.) It's also pretty darn filling, and capped one heck of a BIG lunch.

Counter/Menu Board

Customer service was exemplary. Tables are cleared away & cleaned within seconds of a customer leaving: Even I was impressed at how little time it took staff to pounce on a table. Very impressed. The dining area is brightly lit and clean. Lime green and orange chairs. Tables that move (handy when you have to squeeze by someone.) Each table has salt & pepper grinders, in addition to a bottle of Zoës' own Greek dressing (nice touch.)

Dining Area

The Menu Board is easy to navigate, and I said before... has plenty of choices. Ordering is a snap, and the cashiers mow through lines with ease: You can tell the front of house is well-experienced. In a hurry? You can even order online and pick it up. Are these guys good or what?