|5406 Balcones Dr.
Austin, TX 78731
Chez Zee is one of Austin’s most interesting and popular bistro restaurants. It is also bears the unmistakable imprimatur of Sharon Watkins, Chez’s Zee’s founder and indefatigable proprietor. Where other fainthearted souls would have walked away, this former advertising executive and single mother built her restaurant from the ground up and continues to infuse it with her abundant energy and unrelenting enthusiasm.
I like Chez Zee because it is a work in continual progress. Sharon and her staff are always listening to customers, fine-tuning the menu, and continuing to introduce new dishes. For example, I absolutely love the Rig and Cheese. This new special is comfort food at its best. The smoked chicken is added to rigatoni pasta infused with jalapenos and tossed with smoked Gouda cheese. Another great new dish is the Strube Ranch ‘Wagyu’ Flat Iron Steak. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried Kosher steaks and this one, from Pittsburgh, Texas is terrific. The steak is topped with a truffled egg and shaved Reggiano parmesan.
The starters at Chez Zee are always reliable and perform their designated functions quite well. The Shrimp Sautee with Garlic Cream Sauce is an elegant little dish. The shrimp have a nice texture and the light garlic cream sauce adheres nicely to them. Result: excellent dish! And I’ve always liked the Crabmeat Quesadillas. The crabmeat is gently molded into a flour tortilla along with Monterrey Jack Cheese, roasted red peppers, and a dash of southwestern spice. It’s grilled and served with a red raspberry cilantro salsa. Every bite is lovely: it’s that simple. And I would be remiss were I not to mention the Aztec Corn and Shrimp Bisque. This soup has never failed to deliver in texture or flavor and is a requisite for me in each visit to Chez Zee.
My sensory memories go way back at Chez Zee. One of the first dishes I ever tried there, the Jalapeno Cornbread Stuffed Chicken Breast, is still one of my favorites. The spicy cornbread stuffing combined with the New Mexico red chile cream sauce is just irresistible. You must also taste the Chicken Fried Sirloin Steak. This is certified Black Angus that’s hand breaded and perfectly fried. This is a somewhat upscale twist on a popular Texas dish that just works at Chez Zee. The Grilled Lamb Chops are another singular treat. It’s the balsamic vinaigrette marinade that really makes this dish work. The marinade makes the chops exquisitely tender and a nice touch is a delicate apricot chutney.
The desserts at Chez Zee are nothing short of legendary. I absolutely love their Carrot Cake and the decadent butter cream sauce. Likewise the amazing Coco Leches cake which is as dense as it is delicious. And nothing rivals their signature Crème Brulee French Toast. They ship this all over the country and it’s easy to see why.
The weekend brunches are likewise flawless. The Migas speak to me in their own flavored accent and I listen! You should listen as well and make your way to Chez Zee, one of my Top 20 restaurants on Dining Out with Rob Balon.com