ZEST KITCHEN & BAR: Part 3, Dessert
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
Last week I filled you up with a hearty helping from the dinner menu. Now join me as I take you from the adult portion of the menu to the dark (chocolate) side. This is Part 3 of 3. I went there three times in two days. ‘Nuff said.
My favorite part of the dessert menu at this place is that the only sweeteners they use are maple and agave (except for the chocolate torte which uses chocolate chips that have some sugar in there, but I digress).
On our first visit to Zest, Chris and I couldn’t reach a consensus on dessert and so we each ordered our own, much to your benefit J Easily swayed by the concept of “limited time only,” I ordered that night’s special, the Tiramisu. The texture and density of this dish took me back to my childhood when my mom used to make my sister, Puppett and I a very non-vegan, non-gluten-free Graham Cracker Mousse Cake on special occasions. I remember when my sister made it for the first time on her own; it was good, but there’s always something extra in there when a dish is made by Mom. Sorry, P.
The tiramisu was built with layers of cashew cream mousse with a cream-cheese-like consistency stacked between chewy layers of cacao crumble. The crumble was comprised of a salty, savory mixture of dates and nuts smashed together that balanced the sweeter, more solid layer of mousse. Creamy and dense, the mousse was not too heavy, but was definitely not on the fluffy side. Although traditionally very strong on the coffee flavor, Zest’s take on this Italian classic doesn’t overdo it. Whether or not you’re a fan of that caffeinated kick, you’ll be safe ordering this treat as I did not find it overpowering.
Chris went for their other nightly special: the White Chocolate Blueberry Tart. Filled with a sweet, lemony, white chocolate custard the crust was firm but not stiff. Made mostly of chickpea flour, my favorite for baking, it was easy to cut and the blandness balanced the sweetness of its innards. While a little too sweet for my taste overall, the custard filling delivered a nice tang from the lemon and was a perfect partner for the tart blueberries that were sprinkled on top.
A super sweet surprise came to us from Casey at the end of our meal. Having had such a tough time deciding between their Tiramisu special and the Chocolate Beet Cake with Avocado Mousse that appears regularly on their menu (I was craving chocolate, but just couldn’t pass up the limited time only option) Casey took pity on me and sent the chocolate cake home with us for later. I had it for breakfast. Don’t judge me. The cake was like a dense brownie and held very true to the bitterness of its dark chocolate roots. Slathered atop this cacao creation was a rich chocolate avocado mousse that was closer in flavor and texture to a creamy ganache and would have been just as decadent served on its own with some berries. To perfect this delicacy I would have added a second layer of mousse, making it more of a chocolate layer cake, but one that I would happily live in for many years to come.
Our final venture to this culinary haven removed the middleman of a meal as we went straight for dessert. Chris and I both split the Salted Caramel Chocolate Hazelnut Torte and the current night’s special: Raw Chocolate.
As I stated earlier in this post, the torte is the only item on the menu that contains sugar as they melt down vegan chocolate chips for the filling. While I would have preferred sans sugar, this dessert still delighted me in every way. The crust is similar to that of the White Chocolate Blueberry Tart that Chris enjoyed on our first foray and is a stout deliverer of its sweeter contents. The chocolate is lightened somewhat by the addition of roasted hazelnuts which add a complexity to the filling that is only further accentuated by the drizzle of caramel over top. Vegan caramel can be very hit or miss and they knocked this one out of the park!
I neglected to inquire if they made the Raw Chocolate in house, but I would not have been surprised as it was as rich and dark as raw chocolate can be. Dried cranberries were both inside and sprinkled on top along with fresh, ripe blueberries and a lemon citrus drizzle. This was a nice, much lighter option for dessert and something that I would have readily enjoyed with a glass of deep red wine.
In summation, if you’re having a particularly strong craving for rich, dark chocolate I highly recommend the Raw Chocolate or the Chocolate Beet Cake (if they add the extra layer of mousse inside especially). The Hazelnut Torte is a little on the lighter side and might work better if you’re more of a milk chocolate fan. Hate chocolate altogether? Get out. Now. But grab some Tiramisu to go, as it will have your belly smiling for the rest of the evening.
And there you have it: three weeks of vegan eats in Salt Lake City. While Zest is not the only option in SLC, it is definitely the most alluring and will keep you (and me) coming back for more for years to come.
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.