Chow, Baby: Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Babe in the Woods

It warmed Chow, Baby’s indie-loving heart to see the Snooty Pig jam-packed at 9am on a weekday, long past prime breakfast-eating time. Some would say it’s all about the muffins. These huge, extra-moist showstoppers ($1.75), in more than a dozen varieties, are fresh-baked at both locations (4010 William D. Tate Av in Grapevine and 1540 Keller Pkwy in, well, Keller). The one bite that Chow, Baby enjoyed before sweetie stole the rest featured burst-in-the-mouth blueberries and a crumbly streusel topping. Owner Marge Bunn claims each muffin has just two grams of fat; fat-loving Chow, Baby adores them anyway.

The Snooty Pig menu features other heart-healthy items — fresh fruit plate, veggie burrito, teriyaki pasta — but also traditional fat-laden grub. That right there is the secret to the Snooty Pig’s success: It understands and caters to its split audience. At the Keller location last week, Old Kellerites chowed down on your basic eggs/hashbrowns/sausage combo ($4.25) while New Kellerites were dining daintily on eggs benedict ($6.25) and bagels with cream cheese ($1.75). Lunch choices include pot roast ($4.99 when it’s the lunch special) and a teriyaki chicken-breast salad ($6.50). Depending on the diner’s financial status, the checkered tablecloths, mismatched chairs, and pig-strewn décor will be taken as either comfortably homey or whimsically kitschy. But whatever the heft of the wallet, everybody loves the muffins.

That’z Amore

In the “one door closes, another opens” department, Chow, Baby’s powerful craving for the best Italian food in town was thwarted when it pulled up to Mike Salerno’s on Camp Bowie last week: Closed, no forwarding address. Not a big surprise; the decrepit Western Hills Motel it’s attached to had long been rumored to have a date with the wrecking ball. But where’s Mikey? Chow, Baby would appreciate any sightings.

The doors that opened last week belonged to Zoë-Italian, at 450 Throckmorton in Sundance Square. There’s no comparing the two, of course. Salerno’s is Italian like your Nonna would make; Zoë is Italian like your gay nephew would re-invent, with dishes like seared sea scallops wrapped in pancetta and oven-roasted prosciutto-crusted sea bass with port-glazed cipollines. If, like Chow, Baby, you have no idea what cipollines are, the not-snooty wait staff is happy to translate.

The deco-industrial décor — open kitchen, soaring ceilings, lots of glass and steel, Eno meets Twin Peaks ambient-tech on the stereo — is just as hip as its sister Zolon, the noisy “everyday bistro” around the corner. Zoë continues Zolon’s Z and demi-Z portioning/pricing system, where the Z is a normal restaurant portion and the demi-Z is the portion a normal person would eat, at about half the price. This backfires on those who would use the demi-Z for economizing. It’s like going to the dollar store: Everything seems so reasonably priced that you keep throwing stuff you don’t really need into your basket, and before you know it you’ve spent $58 on lunch for two.

But it was all delicious, and as far as Chow, Baby is concerned, chef/founder Zolon A. Wilkins III can go ahead with his plans to trendify all of North Texas. Chow, Baby just wants Mike Salerno back in its life, too.

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