Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chez Zee

Chez Zee is one of those Austin restaurants that seemingly has been around forever. I remember hearing about it not long after I moved here in 1994, as it was (and presumably still is) known for it's huge desserts. The last time I was there was almost 4 years ago for Easter brunch when my parents were in town; I remember it being jammed packed, and while I think my memory of the food was favorable, I have no idea what we ate. So tonight I met one of my best friends and her two elementary school aged boys for an earlyish dinner.

At about 5:50 pm, there were maybe two tables seated, and a trio of ladies at the bar. We asked for a table with a bench seating, as was easier with the kids. The host asked our preference on seats, and upon hearing it didn't matter to us, he escorted us to the table against the back wall. And while the boys were extremely well behaved, we might not have always been the quietest of tables, so the back was probably a good plan. I returned from the restroom to find the lights had dimmed. Great! Mood lighting with children. My friend asked if I wanted to split the "Zee Best of Platter", and I agreed, and I also ordered a side Caesar salad, asking for light dressing. The boys were getting grilled cheese and mini-cheeseburgers.

Now what follows here is cut and pasted directly from their website. While it will give you the description of our meal, please take note of the typos within it, again, straight from their website.
ZEE BEST OF PLATTER Hand Cut center cut Filet Mignon (4.oz) served on a bed of creamed spinach, One Grilled Lambchop, One ‘Southen’ Maryland Crabcake. Served with Sweet potato pudding, jalapeno cornbread stuffing, grilled asperagus and garic mashed potatoes. Served with a side of black cherry dipping sauce. 28.95
Now my friends and co-workers know that I am totally anal about proofreading and editing (so I better edit this submission well!). It is taking ALL that I have not to print their entire online menu, circle the errors in red, and mail it to them. I would be embarrassed if I were the management at Chez Zee.

Okay, back to the food. If the salad had "light" dressing on it, I'd hate to see what the regular amount is. I didn't detect any anchovy flavor, in what they describe as their "unique" Caesar dressing. I guess I should ask if it is supposed to have anchovy in it, but their fat free version is described as being without anchovy or oil, so.....one would think the regular version has it. Though it occurs to me now, maybe the waiter thought I was asking for the light/fat free version, as opposed to a light amount of dressing on my salad. The romaine was fresh, the croutons crispy, but I miss the typical Caesar flavor. We asked for an extra plate when we ordered so we could divvy the Platter up ourselves. It is quite a medley of food, and while eating it, it kinda reminded me of Thanksgiving, with a little of this and a little of that (plus the sides were all Thanksgiving-y). The filet was wrapped in a piece of fatty bacon, and cooked on the medium side of medium-rare; fairly good. The lamb chop was medium rare, and quite tasty (probably the best thing on the plate). The black cherry dipping sauce was heavy on the horseradish though. The crab cake was more breading than crab. Sweet potatoes seemed more mashed than pudding style; the mashed potatoes were very pureed, and there was jalapeno in that stuffing? That was stuffing? The very fat asparagus were cooked nicely, not overdone. And there was another sauce that came with it too, something between regular mayo and an aioli. The french fries that came with the grilled cheese were lightly seasoned and nice and crisp, not greasy, and apparently they also make their own potato chips which came with the burger.

In the interest of watching our post-holiday waistlines, the adults passed on dessert (though the cakes looked yummy in the case, they didn't look nearly as tall and imposing as I remember), and we got vanilla ice cream for the boys. Well, what arrived wasn't vanilla, and the boys wouldn't eat it. We both tried it, and it had a familiar herbaceous quality to it. When the waiter came by to get the check, we mentioned it to him, and his response was "well, we only have one kind of ice cream." Well, it turns out they DO have two. He apparently scooped from the wrong container, as it turned out to be cardamom (not like cardamom I've tasted, and I love cardamom!), but he did bring the actual vanilla, and all was well.

Leaving about 7pm, the place, in all it's garish holiday decor (life-sized Nutcracker still outside, gaudy glittery stuff inside, heart ornaments hanging above their piano....), was about half full, which I'd say is not bad for a Tuesday in January. It looked like a mix of couples, families, and happy hour ladies. I am wondering if I should have just skipped dinner and just had dessert. That answer is yes. Next time.


  1. Your first paragraph kind of sums up my opinion of Chez Zee. I remember going there, more than once, but I can't remember what I ate or how it tasted. And, I'm right there with you on the spelling errors. It sends a clear message that someone's not paying attention to the details. In the restaurant world, that's a bad thing.

  2. Hi Janee! I am still astounded by the errors in that description alone on their website! They must have enough of a following that they don't feel the need to correct it.... but really? Really???? Get a clue! Thanks for reading & sharing!