We were heartened to find the interior in keeping with the hotel’s pervading aesthetic. All silvers, mirrors and snowy whites, Zest marries opulence with an accessible layout and laid-back vibe. My mind was already conjuring images of a hip and high-end brunch taking place here, though I later learned that there are no plans for one (yet). As inviting as the decor was, we opted for a table outside on the terrace, which provided us with views of Dubai’s tall, twinkling coastline.
It took us a while to divert our gaze away from the view and onto the menu, which offers guests a choice of starters and mains, each prepared in either a ‘Western’, ‘Middle Eastern’ or ‘Asian’ style. Starters consist of salmon, prawn, tomato or pasta, whereas mains cover meat and poultry (beef, lamb, chicken or quail) or seafood (tuna, sea bass, scallops, or crab). A fun concept, yes, but only if it’s done well. Could Zest deliver?
Little had improved by the time the main course arrived. The ‘Middle-Eastern’ curried tuna was served in an exotic tagine pot, though what lay within looked little more than a lifeless, nondescript rice dish, which didn’t do much for the taste buds either. Meanwhile, the quail, cooked in a cocotte with green peas and served with diced smoked duck breast, was, for some inexplicable reason, garnished with lettuce leaves. Not only did this ruin the dish’s appearance, but made for awkward eating (I was in no mood to pick out cold lettuce leaves to get to my food). The quail itself was tough – as you might expect from a game bird – though lacked the unique flavour so typical of game.
Zest pitches itself as a restaurant that serves simple, well-made food. It succeeds with the former, but until the venue raises its game on the latter, there’s little reason to endure the mutterings of a disgruntled taxi driver on the way to the Palm’s outer echelons.
The bill (for two)
1x Citrus-infused dim sum Dhs90
1x Steamed prawns Dhs90
1x Tuna curry Dhs145
1x Quail with duck breast Dhs120
Total (excluding service) Dhs445