Zest is an Indian Bangladeshi restaurant situated on the north side of St Andrews Square, just down from Harvey Nichols and just around the corner from The Stand. They have been located here for 20 years and have stood the test of time.
Currently, this side of St Andrews Square is undergoing massive construction work which is having a serious impact on Zest’s lunchtime business; many of the construction lorries block the restaurant from view and if the likes of Valvona and Crolla cannot thrive in this area, then you can have sympathy for an Edinburgh institution like Zest.
However, the owner and staff remain upbeat and very much have a ‘zest’ for life – they are super friendly and are so enthusiastic about their menu. I went in to try out their food and was in for a treat.
We went in at dinner time and sat at the window. The restaurant is small but it’s bright and cheery with some nice touches of decor.
One cannot peruse the menu without having the obligatory popadoms, pickle tray and Singha beer to help make the final decisions.
Mango chutney, onions and mint and a lime pickle.
With so many dishes to choose from I asked the owner to choose dishes for us and he provided us with a selection of starters, thus allowing us to sample more dishes than just one or two.
On the starter plate we had the King Prawn Puri, Vegetable Pakora, Chicken Kebab and Lamb Kebab.
The King Prawn Puri came tops, both our favourites. The prawn was most certainly a king prawn, fat and juicy laid out on the puri which is unlevened deep fried bread. The pakora was nicely spiced with large chunks of vegetables and both the chicken and the lamb were subtlety spiced but well seasoned and tender. I preferred the lamb to the chicken though.
For mains these gorgeous ornate copper table heat trays were placed down on our table and five dishes laid out on them.
Saag Aloo – a spinach and potato dish. Fairly spicy but fragrant. The spinach was well cooked and the potatoes just holding their shape.
Lamb Karai – This dish was spot on. A nice mix between a sweet spicy taste with a lingering hotter after taste. The lamb was tender and came with a good proportion between sauce and lamb.
Palak Paneer – essentially an Indian cottage cheese in a smooth creamy delicious spinach gravy.
King Prawn Jalfrezi – beautiful large succulent well cooked prawns in a subtlety hot Jalfrezi sauce.
Vegetable Jalfrezi – another lovely dish filled with spicy vegetables.
Peshwari Nan – large enough to share, and delivered to the table hot, releasing that homely gorgeous aroma of almonds.
Special fried rice – again enough to share.
The food is lovely and they are happy to adjust the ‘heat’ to your liking. A 2 course meal (starters and mains) with nan and rice would cost you around £25, and they treat you like a king/queen.
A business lunch will cost you around £10 (starter, main and a rice or nan bread).
They have excellent vegetarian choices and I’ve read that they are very helpful when it comes to requesting gluten free too (contact the restaurant to confirm).
This is a great wee independent restaurant, the likes of whom we should be supporting!
Zest Indian Restaurant, 15 North St Andrew Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1HJ. Tel : 0131 5565028 www.zest-restaurant.co.uk
My Spoon Award : Silver Spoon (food and service are very good. Equivalent to 8/10)