The Road Less Eaten
Sharing my experiences traveling and integrating my surroundings through local vegan cuisine.
ZEST KITCHEN & BAR: Part 2, Dinner
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Food style: Farm-to-fork restaurant & fresh juice cocktail bar
Veg Scale: 100% gluten free (except for some beers) vegetarian, everything can be made vegan
Part of town: Downtown near Temple Square
I hope you enjoyed my exploration of Zest’s brunch menu in my last entry. Now I bring you Part 2 of 3. Chris and I went there three times in two days. ‘Nuff said.
Our exploration of Zest’s dinner menu began by sharing a couple of their aptly named Share Plates. Baked Mushrooms (GF) stuffed with Cashew Cheese (GF) arrived alongside shaved Brussels Sprouts with slivered almonds in a spicy masala almond sauce (GF). Yes.
The mushrooms were heavy with flavor, being baked to savory perfection and then topped with the house made herbed cashew cream. The rich flavors of the mushrooms and the cheese combined in an explosion of deep, earthy flavors delivered with a chewy and creamy texture. The mushrooms were a little too moist for me and I would have preferred they be slightly dehydrated post-baking to ensure a more compact and less drippy mouth feel. Chris, however, was not in the same Goldilocks camp as I and found these fungi to be juuuust right.
The Brussels sprouts was far more delicate a dish than I was expecting as I’ve only ever seen them cooked whole or cut in half rather than shaved in this manner. This preparation afforded an enticingly softer yet crispy-around-the-edges texture while enabling them to soak up more of their rich sauce thus delivering a stand out dish. The spice of the masala combined harmoniously with the sweetness of the almonds making for a sauce that I would happily put on everything. I could have continued eating this for days. Seriously, it still haunts me.
Chris was craving soup so we opted for the daily special, a Mediterranean Melanzane (GF), which literally translated is “Mediterranean Eggplant”. Combining this versatile aubergine with an assortment of other hearty veggies simmered to perfection, this chowder was light and not overly seasoned. A little too watery for me as I tend to like creamier, thicker soups, Chris fully enjoyed this dish and found it comforting. Filling enough for a small meal, I would definitely order something else alongside it if you are experiencing more of an appetite.
Next we moved into splitting another aptly named dish, the Hearty Meal (GF). The kitchen was kind enough to split the dish for us so one black bean-chia patty w/BBQ sauce and one mushroom-walnut patty w/roasted red pepper sauce arrived open-faced on separate plates. They were each topped with sautéed mushrooms, red onions, and avocado perched atop fresh baby spinach on a gluten-free multi-grain bun all snuggled up nicely alongside a petite salad. Comprised of baby spinach, arugula (AKA rocket), shaved carrots and purple cabbage, the salad was tossed with a very light and refreshing vinaigrette and was a nice leafy green interlude between flavors.
Both patties were hearty and filling and held together very well en route to my mouth, but my favorite was definitely the black bean-chia. It felt more uniquely satisfying and less like a standard veggie burger than the mushroom-walnut. The sauces were chosen well and complemented their respective patties. The sweet tanginess of the BBQ added a robust kick to the mild flavor of the black beans while the roasted red pepper coulis added a layer of smoky dimension to the nutty mushroom burger. The onions, mushrooms and avocado slices somehow worked with both patties, tying them together nicely as a meal despite their contrasting palates. The bun was dense enough to transport the deliciousness, but in no way masked or overpowered the patties, a tendency that has generally steered me away from ordering sandwiches, wraps or burgers in the first place. I’m sure this was due in large part to the burgers being served on only the bottom portion of the bun, a technique I wish more places would adopt – despite what the carb-loving part of my heart would vehemently attest, we really don’t need that much bread!
The dessert-loving part of my heart, however, is right on point and was delighted to explore that portion of the menu on multiple visits! With a daily rotating special in addition to the sweet seasonal staples, the ever-evolving options kept me coming back for more. Tantalized yet? Check out next week’s entry for a sweet treat, or two, or three or…
I am an actor/writer/content creator based in Los Angeles. I travel extensively both as the host of the new vegan food travel show The Road Less Eaten and on my own. This blog will chronicle my journey around the globe as I hunt down all the vegan options in every part of the world, no matter how big the city nor small the town.
Copyright © Ally Iseman 2016. I own my awkward. Thanks for enabling me.