Saturday, June 12, 2010

Zoot: Dining Half Off Thanks to Booming Online Coupon Deals!

I jumped on the Groupon, Living Social, and Localitor bandwagon when spring semester started.  My grad school friends have been enjoying dining out using gift certificates.  However, I find the deals on complicated and in the end bad deals.  Almost all the gift certificate denominations require that you make a minimum purchase above the gift certificate amount that you purchase.  If you pay $10 for a $25 gift certificate, you'll be required to spend at least $35. 

I prefer Groupon, Living Social, and Localitor deals because there's hardly ever a set minimum purchase that is above the amount of the gift certificate.  I would still read the fine print before purchasing though.  One of the deals I purchased was $30 for a $55 5 course dinner at Zoot.  I bought 4 and invited the family out for a wonderful multi-course dinner in May. 

Zoot at Bee Caves

My brother came to Austin, and it's been a while since the family had a nice meal together.

Food Dilettante and Bro

I read one review on Yelp that complained about the price and portions of the dishes at Zoot and how he had to stuff 3-4 mustard seed rolls to finally feel somewhat full.  Well, it's expected that the portions of each dish would be small for multi-course meals, but I didn't know what to expect after reading that review, so I indulged on 2 mouthwatering, fluffy, mustardy rolls before the first course.  Yes, it's worth it to eat as many rolls as you want, but it was, nonetheless, a mistake for me because the portions of the dishes are just right.  I was stuffed to the max by the end of the meal. 

Mustard Seed Roll

We are all carnivores and thus ordered the chef's tasting menu instead of the vegetarian farmer's menu.
The amuse-bouche that evening was a refreshing ball of strawberry sorbet with cracked black pepper.

Amuse Bouche-Strawberry Sorbet with Cracked Black Pepper

The first dish was a piece of crispy pork belly with strips of fried pig's ear on sweet corn grits.  Like most preparations of pork belly, the pork was too salty.  I was glad that they countered the savory with the sweet corn grits, otherwise this dish would've been unbearably salty if paired with something savory.

Sweet Corn Grits with Crispy Pork, Cilantro and Lime Vinaigrette

Next came the tasty but uninventive salad (right down to the Caesar dressing).  The only thing that stood out were the sweet croutons. 

BCF Greens with Cauliflower, Zucchini, and Caesar Dressing

Our favorite dish of that evening was the snapper in five-spice broth.  The fish was so tender and light, quite different from the pork dish.  I guess it makes sense to start with a small, strongly seasoned dish for just a "taste" and ease into lighter, larger portioned dishes.

Sauteed Snapper with Snap Peas, Bok Choy, Fennel Salad, and 5 Spice Broth

The ribeye was also very well cooked.  However they went overboard with the mustard in the warm German potato salad.  It was too strong for a relatively large portion (or so it seemed to me because I could not eat more than a few bites).

Grilled Ribeye with Warm German Potato Salad, Mushroom Puree and Scallions

The meal ended with a very concentrated chocolate cake. 
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Candied Hazelnut, Orange Curd, and Raspberry Coulis

I admit that I probably would not have tried Zoot without the online deal.  I'm glad that I finally got to try it, but the food, although tasty, did not blow me away.  My brother's company outshone the food.  I guess that's an unfair and silly comparison since my brother's company will always come out above any food.   

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