I haven't told you this yet, but Mark turned in his dissertation last week. He still has to do his oral defense (a week from tomorrow), but he's more or less done. In celebration of that fact, we went to a very nice dinner last night at a local restaurant, Zoot. Aren't we cute? Our sweet neighbor, Mary, took a few pictures of us before we left.
The menu at Zoot was very nice. I actually thought it looked a little bit tame when reading it, but the execution of every single thing we had was so good that really, I think the menu is just understated. The room is comfortable and casual and they have a great outdoor space. The waitstaff was wonderful--very friendly, and our waitress brought Mark a free glass of wine after she saw me "reprimanding" him for stealing too much of mine. If you live in central Austin, Zoot is pretty far out (it's on Bee Caves), but it is a nice drive and really lovely out there.
For the curious, this is what we had:
Mark: Charcuterie and chicken liver pate with chopped tapenade and tarragon mustard
Adami "Garbel" Prosecco, Colbertado, Italy
Me: Grilled curry stuffed quail with pickled mango salad
2006 Domaine Adele Rouze, Loire Valley
Mark: Chilled fennel soup
Me: Spinach salad with spicy fried garbanzo beans, marinated pequillo peppers, and sherry vinagrette
2006 Chateau Benoit, Muller Thurgau, Oregon
Mark: Grilled ahi with potatoes dauphine, frisse, green beans, and poached egg
Light Oregon pinot noir
Me: Rack of lamb with sweet potato and purple potato gratin and garlic mustard greens
Heavy Oregon pinot noir
We split honey cheesecake with burnt sugar and gingerbread crust and lemon-thyme sauce
While everything was great, the standouts for me were my curry stuffed quail and the Oregno pinot I had, which I cannot for the life of me remember the name of (that was the wine of which our waitress so kindly brought us an extra glass). The lamb was also prepared perfectly. The ony things I didn't care for were my greens (and that's just a matter of taste--Mark loved them) and the cheesecake crust (same thing). There were really no weak spots in the service or the food.
Another boon was a tip I got to go over to restaurant.com and pick up a gift certificate to cover part of the meal. I paid $5 ($10 with a 50% off code of MOTHER) for a $25 certificate, printed it out from my home printer, and used it with absolutely no issues. $20 off the meal with very very little trouble. As several of our other favorite restaurants locally are listed on the site as well, it's definitely something I will use again.
All in all, it was a really lovely date night. If you are local, I definitely recommend Zoot. Also, for vegetarians, there is a veggie tasting menu, called the "Farmer's Menu," that sounds fantastic.