Zoot, the new location
Had dinner Friday at Zoot, their new location. The first challenge is to find the place. It's advertised at "11715 Bee Cave Road". However the Bee Cave numbers only run up to the 9000s. After investigating various map sites I figured out the the correct address is "11715 Hwy 2244". In any case, from Austin it's about all the way out to Rt 71. Precisely, it is 0.1 miles west of Resaca Blvd, on the south side. Then look for the stone building with no name on it, beside "Wildwood Wine and Spirits".
The restaurant was quite busy, but we were seated promptly. There's a nice sized bar to the left and the dining room to the right. Also a beautiful patio, which apparently they aren't licensed to use. Pity, because it was way too cold in the restaurant and it would have been a lovely night to sit on the patio.
The waiter offered drinks and served rolls and butter. The rolls were hot, which of course did not bode well for the meal; my usual experience being that the rolls are warmed to disguise the fact that they're stale. However, after letting the roll cool, it tasted fresh; I assume that they're warming them or serving them directly out of the oven under the misguided impression that it's better.
My wife ordered a "local green salad", the cheese ravioli, panna cotta and coffee. I had the steamed mussels, braised lamb shanks, a "salted caramel ice cream and hot fudge" parfait, and tea. My wife loved her food, claiming the ravioli was better than Aquarelle. My mussels were excellent, though strangely sprinkled with bits of sausage; apparently a form of decoration. The lamb shanks were done well, and served with an excellent white bean side. I ordered tea because according to the menu it was freshly brewed. The menu was accurate; the tea was served in a pot designed for steeping, and was excellent. If only other restaurants would learn. The bill was $101 (no alcohol).
The server was able to answer questions about the menu, and was quite pleasant. The only jarring note was that I was expected to eat the mussels using a dinner fork and the dessert, served in a parfait glass, with a soup spoon.
The new location is almost 20 miles from downtown Austin, but it's well worth the drive for special occasions.
IMHO no serious baker would serve bread/rolls without letting them cool properly. Most times when I encounter heated rolls they have been reheated is to disguise the fact that the rolls are stale. That said, the Zoot rolls were good when they cooled so I assume that they were just out of the oven and serving them hot was just carelessness.
Agree about the "hassle"; the attention to detail required by kitchen/wait staff for a really good restaurant experience is extraordinary, but people keep trying.
I ate at the new Zoot location last week also. I was disappointed that they've not done anything at all with the space interior design-wise. It's hard to go from the quaint building on Hearn to a generic strip mall space without feeling pretty let down!
Everyone in our party of four enjoyed his/her food. I had a fish fillet served with risotto made with spinach and mushrooms. It was very tasty. Our server was socially awkward and new to Zoot. He made weird comments about us bringing our own bottle of wine: assumed we had no idea about a corkage fee, asked us why we brought it and were we a part of a "wine club."
I've been a regular Zoot customer for many years, but may not be eating there much in the future given the charmless interior of their new space.