Sunday, December 30, 2012

An Organic Eatery...for the Cosmo Crowd.

What I call "pizza mushrooms;" parmasean-stuff mushies.
I heard rumors of a swanky lounge opening in downtown Salt Lake City that not only served gourmet cocktails, but a gorgeous menu of vegetarian, all-organic tapas - and even a selection of "raw diet" items.

And, as I exclained on many a Christmas morning as a child, I'm pleased to report, "it does exist!"

Last night, Chris and I experienced Zest for the first time. Tucked away in a discreet corner of the building behind P.F. Chang's, Zest is, from the get-go, an insider's place. At 5 p.m., the place was deserted, but not for lack of quality, or atmosphere.

Dim lights and nightclub-esque seating surround a focal-point bar and open-walled kitchen. Water served in empty 360 (organic) vodka bottles attest to the joint's eco-consciousness. The menu offers plant-based dishes like kalamata olive-stuffed mushrooms or cucumber slices topped with raw cashew cheese (no cheese, just cashews). All the dishes we had were excellent (and we had a lot), and at an average of $7 a pop, we were surprised that the bill was less than $30. Apparently, we were there during happy hour! Bonus. And it was good to see that by the time we left, diners were starting to saunter in for their after-work delights.

Baked sweet potato fries with spicy red pepper salsa.
A lot of raw, organic places tout their food and message loudly, and plainly, meaning their kitchens are simple and are quicker to promote an exotic tea than a hand-crafted cocktail, and forget that Salt Lake City's hip dining scene gathers a suave crowd that want to linger late, ordering tapas and cocktails.

Zest lives by a "farm-to-fork" mentality, supporting local and organic food AND spirits when it's available. And all produce is seasonal, and BOY does that make a difference (the plain tomato on the side was one of the best-tasting - not just veggies - but FOODS, ever!). The place is obviously very conscious of your health, the economy and the world at large (fair trade, yo!), but without sacrificing a hip, cosmopolitan feel, which makes this one of Chris and my new favorite spots.

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