Sunday, August 7, 2011

More Meals I Didn't Cook

Recently posted a few brief restaurant reviews... and now I have a couple more. I think it's the heat...when it's 107 degrees outside, you stay holed up indoors all day. When mealtime rolls around, you feel a little cabin feverish, and you definitely don't want to turn on the oven. So naturally, you start thinking of your restaurant options...

 One day we took the kids to eat Ethiopian food at Aster's. I've never shied away from exposing Jackson and Olivia to the different types of ethnic cuisine that I love. How else are they going to get a taste for it? For me, the key has been finding a way to familiarize the food for them. For example, Jackson likes it when I make lentil soup. The Ethiopian buffet had a couple different types of lentil stews. I chose the mildly spiced one, and served it to him in a bowl, over rice.

Little man loved it! He made the connection to something he'd eaten before and enjoyed, so he wasn't hesitant about digging in.

With Olivia, we give her something she likes, such as rice, and add a few other new things that are fun to eat with her fingers, such as potato stew and injera bread.

Aster's offers a buffet during lunch hours, which makes it super easy to give the kids the specific foods they like best. It also makes it easy for me to load up on my favorites -- lentils and greens!

Although Aster's does serve meat, all of their non-meat dishes are made completely vegan. I double checked with the waitress because the buffet items weren't clearly labeled as to which were vegetarian or vegan. She assured me that they use no butter, dairy, or meat-based broths in their veggie dishes. She added that most of the items are also gluten-free.
Another day, we were up at IKEA pricing beds (Olivia's outgrowing her crib), and we stopped to eat at a Greek restaurant named Zorba.

We chose it mostly because of the name. You see, for many years, I adored a Greek restaurant in Oklahoma City called Zorba's.  I thought, "Hey, similar name, maybe the food is similarly AWESOME, too?"

It wasn't quite as good as "my" Zorba's (But how could it be, you know? Because of the nostalgia?) but it was definitely the best Greek food I've had in Austin (well, OK, it's in Round Rock.)

Of course we got some hummus.

You gotta have the sprinkling of paprika and the dribble of olive oil and single kalamata olive. You just do.

I ordered the vegetarian sampler, where you pick five items. I chose tabouli, lentil soup, baba ganoush, spanakopita, and falafel.

The tabouli was one of the best I've ever had.  The lentil soup was delicious, and not something you can get at every Greek restaurant. You get bonus points, Zorba, for having a soup option. I'm pretty sure the spanakopita was baked, rather than fried. Healthy points, there. The baba ganoush was creamy and rich. The falafel was served with (non-vegan) tzatziki sauce, and it was more like a chewy little veggie patty, than your typical crumbly falafel ball. But it was good in its own way.

Zorba was exactly what I needed after the exhausting experience that IKEA always provides. Even though it's out of the way, I'll definitely go back next time I need my Greek fix.


  1. Have you watched the movie Zorba? It's greek and amazing!

  2. Great job introducing your kids to other cuisines. I've yet to have someone introduce me to Ethiopian food!
    Did the spanakopita not have cheese in it? Around here I feel like they usually do.

  3. i've seen spanakopita with feta in them, but i'm pretty sure these only had spinach. then there were some other pies that were just cheese.

  4. I love that your kids are already so open minded about different kinds of food. So great and they will be so much better off in the long run! I am totally partial to greek food, I want to dive into the plate of hummus! And being able to create your own veg platter is great (I know I can never decide on just one thing!).