Zoe: Family Restaurant Spun with Soho Chic
Situated conveniently on the tourist-ridden corner of Prince and Mercer (kitty corner from Mercer Kitchen, J Crew and the Apple Store), Zoe blends the traditional concept of a family restaurant with the ‘chic-ness’ needed to survive in Soho.
Surprisingly, on a Sunday morning, most of the fellow diners were not bewildered tourists seeking refuge from the blustering rain. They were couples and families settling in for a comfortable and uncomplicated meal. Zoe delivers safe and hearty All-American cuisine in a spacious sophisticated setting. The expansive restaurant features tables up against the window for people-watching, comfy booths for larger groups, and a kid’s ‘bar’ up against the open kitchen where children can learn about all of the dishes the chefs’ are cooking. Not particularly innovative in decor or design, Zoe focuses on keeping it simple with a Mediterranean-inspired terra-cotta theme.
The menu features everything from pizza (hand-made and cooked in the wood-burning oven), burgers, sandwiches and salads to pan-seared escolar, sweet pea ravioli, and colorado lamb loin at dinner. My friend Jen and I settled in for a hearty brunch of a burger and the ‘green eggs and ham’ omelette (which was actually bright green.) My burger was delicious – a good temperature, well-seasoned beef, hefty in size and served on a toasted buttery bun with melted stinky blue cheese (heaven!). The salty hand-cut fries served on the side almost eclipsed the burger itself. The omelette was shockingly colorful and stuffed with red peppers, cheese and ham. It was fluffy and exactly what egg-starved Jen seemed to need. The cheddar-potato ‘cake’ on the side looked too dense and doughy to be satisfying. The much-needed coffee? Absurdly good and the perfect intense jolt of caffeine for a Sunday brunch.
Zoe surprised me. I’ve walked by it many times, passing it off as a tourist trap with cheesy decorations and even cheesier food. However, Zoe offers a comfortable middle ground between an Olive Garden (eek!) and some of New York’s pretentious gourmet powerhouses. It is easy, simple, quick, and satisfying – and all to the soundtrack of old school jazz. A laid-back and uncomplicated pick for large groups, Sunday brunch in Soho, or a place to take your parents from out of town, Zoe delivers a well-rounded and inexpensive meal without sacrificing tasty food.