Zest! Exciting Food Creations1134 E 54th St. Indianapolis, IN 46220 We weren’t entirely sure what to expect at a place called Zest! Exciting Food Creations (hereinafter referred to only as Zest). It sounds more like a cheesy catering company than a restaurant, but we read many solid reviews and recommendations, so why not try it for ourselves? We arrived a few minutes early and our table wasn’t ready so we decided to go to Twist (the bar inside Zest) for a cocktail before we were seated. After walking through a doorway draped with hanging chainmail, we entered a very dimly lit bar. The bartender was very attentive and immediately greeted us. We were handed the full menu (14 pages) rather than an abbreviated menu or a separate drink menu, and by the time we had our drinks in hand, our table was ready. Appetizers
It’s not surprising that we were torn between options since their menu is so extensive. Sean went for his soft spot—wings. He got the Monster Grilled Wings ($10) with their own (317) wing sauce and a bleu cheese-celery salad. We didn’t ask (but should have), about the 317, which is a bbq sauce rather than a buffalo/hot sauce. The wings were, as the name mentions, grilled so there was a subtle smokiness in addition to the sweet bbq sauce. Sean thinks the wings could have used some more time on the grill to make the skin crispier, but the meat itself was cooked well. The bleu cheese dressing was mixed in with the carrot and celery salad, and while the combo tasted good, it was impossible to dip the wings into the bleu cheese and enjoy them as you would any other wings. For a very picky wing lover, these wings were a tad too sweet and under-dressed.
Recommendation: What good are wings without bleu cheese?
Recommendations: Not only did our taste buds get ripped off, but so did our wallet. Entrées
When I saw a note in the menu advertising a burger awarded the most stars in the Best Burger Search by Indianapolis Monthly Magazine, I knew I had to try the 3-Napkin Burger ($16) with bbq, white cheddar, smoked gouda, creamy bleu cheese, apple wood smoked bacon (Smoking Goose), and grilled red onion on a sesame bun. After taking my first bite, I lost all faith in the Indianapolis Monthly Magazine’s opinion. Not only was the 3-Napkin burger terrible, but we found it humorous that they only provide you with one napkin. I ordered the burger medium, and it seemed to be cooked medium (some pink in the middle), however, it definitely tasted as if it was well done. The roughly 1 1/2” patty was so dry it was hard to bite into. The bbq sauce was overly sweet and dominated every other ingredient on the burger. What happened to all my other toppings? The burger comes with a side of homemade potato chips or you can upgrade to fries for $1 extra. The fries were good and the red pepper aioli went well with them. It’s our opinion that after charging $16 for a hockey puck, you should not charge extra for what should be a standard side item.
Recommendation: Awarded HalfinHalf’s LEAST amount of stars in our Best Burger Search.
Recommendation: The chile itself tasted good, but when judging the dish as a whole, he wouldn’t recommend it, nor would he order it again. Dessert If I see anything S’mores-related on the dessert menu, you can bet I will be ordering it. The S’mores ($10) came with marshmallows, strawberries, chocolate fondue, and graham cracker crumbs. Other than the fact that we got only five marshmallows and the strawberries were rotten, our favorite part was that the graham crackers tasted like cardboard confetti.
Recommendation: Do not expect this to taste like the S’mores fondue at the Melting Pot.
We also ordered the Cherry Pie ($10)—grammy’s incredible cherry pie recipe topped with golden crispy puff pastry and house-made honey-vanilla bean ice cream. The only words I can muster at this point are the following: this dish is not worth the 20 minutes it takes to bake it, the calories consumed, or the $10 out of my pocket.
Recommendation: My grammy could probably bake a better pie. And she doesn’t bake.
Recommendation: Not a bad glass of champagne, but no more than that.
Sean had the Very Old Fashioned ($11) backbone uncut bourbon (Lawrenceburg, IN), fresh ginger syrup, fresh orange and scrappy’s orange bitters. For a bourbon connoisseur, the drink was decent, but certainly not memorable.
Location: Northeast (Broad Ripple)
Cuisine: American (new)
Dress Code: Casual