I didn't spend much time looking around inside because there was plenty of seating outside and the weather was beautiful. Our reservation wasn't really necessary at 7:30 on Friday, which is good to know for future reference. We were seated outside on the patio under the shades, which is nice :) Zest is located in SoBro on 54th, so not as much people traffic to watch as sitting outside in the BR, but I still like it down there. I would have expected it to be a bit busier, but I think you know as well as I do, there are so many good restaurants in Indy, it's got to be hard to keep busy for dinner!! There were a decent number of people out there enjoying the summer night over dinner though. The only think I was kind of disappointed about was that online it was indicated that on Friday nights there would be live jazz. Now, I know we were there kind of early at 7:30, but we stayed for awhile and there were no signs of jazz happening. Maybe inside? But, why would that be? Outside would be perfect and it would also be great to have something like that at dinner time. I moved on though and got to enjoying some food, which is what we were there for anyway, right? Right.
I had a difficult time deciding what to order, there were a few interesting sounding choices, including one of the specials, which was pork and shrimp skewers over some tasty sounding couscous. But, I decided to try something off the regular menu for reviewing purposes and I wanted to make sure I was getting a real taste of what a Zest dinner had to offer. I scored me some Baja Tacos. And dang, they seriously look good, don't they?!?
A light cornmeal crusted fish served on corn tortillas with white cheddar and a chipotle slaw. Now, the chipotle slaw was a push for me, I'm not much on slaw usually, but I trusted the combo. Something I have been trying to do lately, I figure the chefs know what they are doing!! And, with this, I really think they did. It was tangy and fun, not too spicy, but a little kick. The fish was prepared well and I loved the light breading. I am also a sucker for a corn tortilla always.
My Baja Tacos were served with refried black beans made in house (which when I saw on the menu, may have pushed me to ordering this option...I love some beans). The beans were topped with an avocado salad. They were also drizzled with the same chipotle sauce that was on the tacos, which made them taste similar, but brought them together as a meal. For me, the tacos were really good. I am very glad I ordered them, but the beans were a bit of a pass. They were not too tasty, a bit bland and I would have preferred more avocado.
As far as the chicken and waffles went, I think Hubs might not have read the menu closely :) He was surprised by the white-cheddar scallion waffles at first. They were topped with a dijon gravy and gralic mashed potatoes. It looked like the chicken was breaded with the same cornmeal breading as my fish. Hubs' impression of this was that it was interesting, but he thought maybe a little more gourmet than it needed to be. You know how sometimes something that is simple and delicious can be made weird if you try too hard to make in gourmet? That's what he thought. So, it looked pretty, but it wasn't his favorite. Looks like he's gonna have to try Maxine's for comparison!!
Overall, I liked Zest. They had a cool little menu and the specials sounded pretty good too. It was nice to sit out on the patio, even without the jazz (sad face). I really liked the tacos, and would totally get them again, but I think Hubs will try something different. I am still looking forward to trying brunch here...AND I am dying to try the world famous mac and cheese. I am expecting it to be super good, which sometimes works...if it's super good. So, here's to high expectations!! Oh yeah, this place was also featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I didn't do too much research on that and I haven't seen the episode, but I know some people are really into that, so I thought I mention it (not that you didn't already know :)). I have no idea what they tried here, I didn't want to taint my personal decision-making.