Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Zest American Bistro

Zest Bistro

735 8th St S.E., Washington, DC 20003 • (202) 544-7171

Zest Bistro's food was disappointing.

The staff was great. Nice, smiling, friendly hosts greet you. Our waitperson Nicole was super attentive, actually everyone was very attentive--another waitress and the a manager came to my aid when they saw the look of horror on my face when I cut into my eggs and yolk ran everywhere. More on that later.

Zest Bistro does try to take traditional American fare and put an inventive but not over-the-top twist on it. The menu descriptions bear this out, however, the actual food is purely mediocre; nothing special. You can go to dozens of bistro or brunch places serving traditional food and eat a lot better than Zest Bistro.

The food
For beverages my friend dining companion and I ordered coffee. Those came up fast, and it was good coffee with a mild flavor. I prefer a robust coffee for breakfast or brunch nonetheless, this was tasty coffee.

poached eggs, lump crab cake, toasted sourdough, applewood smoked bacon, basil hollandaise, home-fries

2 eggs over-easy & toast

My friend ordered the Chesapeake Eggs Benedict. It was served on thin halves of sourdough bread, instead of English Muffin. Don't expect traditional sourdough bread, this was cut from a square loaf and seemed too processed. That was different but not horrible. The bad thing is the crab cake was thin and about the size of a half dollar hidden underneath the poached egg. However, my friend said the Hollandaise sauce was very good. I tasted his home-fries; they were very good. I loved the touch of rosemary, that is how I make my breakfast potatoes.

Now about the short-rib hash-- don't get it. I am not sure there was any meat in the hash. It kind of, sort of had short-rib flavor (perhaps short-rib drippings) but mainly the hash tasted like apple vinegar. The dish was very disappointing. Not to mention what you are really getting with this entree is two eggs, toast, and a side of short-rib hash--it should not be called Short rib hash as short-rib hash is not the primary food. The hash doesn't look like typical hash; picture mashed sweet potato with dark bits. The dark flecks, in the mashed potato, almost had a burnt flavor except the vinegar overpowered that flavor.

Service: Fast & Accommodating

My meal was the short-rib hash. I did not read the description well and totally missed that this came with two eggs over-easy. I hate runny eggs, I hate gelatinous egg yolk. Nicole (our waitress) immediately took the eggs back. I told her please keep these eggs, just tell them [the cooks] bust the yolk, fry them hard, burn it, I like my eggs crispy. She laughed and said okay. The eggs were returned to me quickly. The egg white part had a little brown tinge to them, the yolk was clearly busted. However, when I put my fork into the egg, yolk ran everywhere. The yolk was not cooked at all. That is when I guess I look horrified and another waitress passing by rushed over to ask what the matter was and as she was coming to me, a manager behind her was looking my way as well. I explained to the waitress that I had already sent the eggs back once. Please, just cook these exact same eggs, burn the hell out of them, make 'em crispy, no runny yolk. She smiled and said she understood. The manager returned the eggs to me (I am sure this was a new batch of eggs...sorry I was wasteful). The eggs were cooked a lot more but one egg was hard cooked, while the other had gelatinous yolk. I kept this batch and decided to make a sandwich out of my breakfast. I put the eggs on the thin, barely toasted sourdough bread that came with my meal and then put the short-rib hash on top of that. I ate two open-face sandwiches. 

"Zest Bistro is a neighborhood cafe, where the people provide an enjoyable experience even if the food is bleh!... lol. That is quite a feat!"

food chick

P.S. Anybody eaten good or great short-rib hash? Where?

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Important Notes:
Note 1: When we were first seated I heard the lady next to me say, this is really vinegary. She gave the guy across from her a bite. He made a face and nodded yes. I had not ordered my food yet so I did not know that it was actually the short-rib hash she was talking about. I thought she had sweet potato.

Note 2: What I did not know until the end of this meal is that my dining companion had eaten at Zest before. He had the steak salad and said it was blah and unforgettable, which is why he had pushed this restaurant out of his mind. He had forgotten he had eaten at Zest until we arrived.
Eat, drink, be merry and validate for parking (TM)

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