Monday, May 9, 2011

Zest - Revisit


I have decided it’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives week on my blog.  Indy has been lucky enough to have several of its local restaurants featured on the show in the last several months, and Zest is the most recent episode, set to air tonight (May 9th). Later in the week I am reviewing another recent restaurant to have been featured already.  Anyway, I have reviewed Zest a couple of times before, but thought a revisit would be a timely post.  I am curious as to how being featured on DDD increases business—from what I have heard and seen, it seems to help increase business immensely, and since they feature local places cooking fresh food, I am all for it.  But I would love to hear from people in some of these places as to just how much it has helped.
So the BFF and I headed in for lunch the other day—I was in the mood for something fairly light (which can be somewhat challenging with Zest, hard to pass on their macaroni and cheese) but I started with a cup of their soup of the day, which was a tortilla/avocado soup ($3.95) and went with the sampler plate of 3 of their signature deli salads ($8.95).  I really liked the soup.  It was a chicken broth based soup, with nice pieces of white meat chicken, radishes, scallions, crispy tortilla strips, a lime wedge and a couple good hunks of avocado on top.  It had a really great spicy flavor, without burning.  The radishes added a peppery flavor and I was impressed with how the tortillas still had a bit of crispness to them when you ate it—they obviously must put them in right as they are serving it.  They also gave it a bit of fullness, as well as a little bit of corn flavor.  The squeezed lime wedge gave a little sour acid to the soup and the avocado on top was the perfect silky buttery topping to the other things.  I haven’t seen this one before on the menu. I hope it is recurring.
I tried the deviled egg salad, the blue cheese chicken salad and the ahi tuna salad as my 3 choices in my salad plate. There was one smallish scoop of each one on top of nice fresh greens.  I would have loved some light vinaigrette on the greens, but maybe you are supposed to just eat them with the salads—I still think it would be improved with just a bit of dressing though.  I have had the deviled egg salad before—I think it is made with Dijon mustard so it has a little kick to it.  There is dill in there as well as lots of egg.  If you want an egg salad with a twist, this is a good one.  I have also had it on a sandwich special with bacon and other toppings that was really good as well.  The blue cheese chicken salad may have been my favorite of the three though—it had shredded chicken with very fine crumble of blue cheese, grape halves, and nuts (pretty sure they were pecans, although they were pretty small pieces).  It was a really nice combination of flavors—the kind of thing I often put on a salad myself—blue cheese and nuts with something a little sweet.  The sweet grapes and the blue cheese are natural companions.  If I was making it, I would put more blue cheese in it, but that’s me.
The ahi tuna salad was my least favorite. It wasn’t bad, but had the least amount of unique flavors.  There were some capers—that’s about all that stands out in my mind about it.  The tuna was pretty tender.  The salads were all served with Zest’s seeded flatbreads, which were a nice accompaniment.  They have a nice earthy nutty flavor from all the seeds on top that add good texture to the smoother salads.  (You also get one with any soup, although I didn’t use it with the soup.  The tortilla strips made it unnecessary.)  I thought it was a nice sized portion, but was wondering if others would think so—I think some might complain it was a little small.  But then again, they probably wouldn’t order a salad sampler either.
BFF had a scramble (Zest’s version of omelets).  I tend to like scrambles because they don’t get as dried out as omelets.  Hers looked good and she seemed to really like it.  I did have a bite of her cowboy potatoes which are rich, creamy and decadent.
It will be interesting to see what items are featured on DDD, as their menu is quite extensive.  I know last time I was there with hubby he loved their burger and said it is one of his favorites in the city.  My guess is DDD will feature more of the unique items, but we shall see.  Would love to hear what you guys think of the episode if you watch.
Zest Exciting Food Creations
1134 E 54th Street
Indy 36220

Zest Exciting Food Creations on Urbanspoon


  1. I really need to get to here and Oaklys. Now that it's been on DDD I might have to wait a bit until things calm down though. National exposure can be a double-edged sword.

  2. Hate too be too much of a contrarian, but the execution of a few of the dishes didn't look all that great. e.g. the steak sub looked like it would be an unfortunate mess (I think the 'would i buy it again' blog nailed this one when wibia reviewed it a little over a year ago). The fried chicken had promise, but I didn't like how it was covered with the sauce - any delicious crispiness would be lost. The tomato bon bons looked interesting... and the french toast briefly shown in the intro did look very good.

    They're definitely worthy of support - and I've felt as though Indianapolis has made a strong showing on this season's Triple D (I was perhaps most impressed by the dishes at the Steer-In - for some reason would not have guessed they were doing so much from scratch). But re: Zest, I personally favor Taste Cafe when I'm in the area.

  3. Tom, we welcome contrarians here. And I agree about Taste. One of my faves.

  4. I agree with Tom. Taste is far superior. Last time I was at Zest I went for lunch and it was odd. Resturant setup is odd, menu overwhelming, server confused, and meal lacked any wow factor. I used to go their for breakfast. Much prefered their breakfast to lunch--but now not open for breakfast. I can see the appeal for neighborhood folks (especially with outdoor seating) but not really a destination for me from NE Indy.

  5. So I was at Zest today for lunch, and the salad special was a roasted grape tomato salad with a poached egg on top. I realized that I read this blog too much when my first thought was, "Ooo, I bet Erin would like that."

    I like Zest. It's not as good as Taste, but few lunch places are. They have a lot of unusual vegetarian options, and the sauce they serve with the frites is great.

  6. HannahB, I love this. thanks for your comment. You made my night.