Where: Spinola Bay, St Julians
Cuisine: East meets West fine dining
Price range: Starters in the €8-€10 range; Mains approx €17-€23
Style: Contemporary candle-lit chic
Best for: Romantic evenings, groups of friends and corporate functions
Zest forms part of the Hotel Juliani located in the heart of Spinola Bay in St Julians – unfortunately right next to McDonalds! But don’t let its next door neighbour put you off, Zest is a sleek, sophisticated restaurant brimming with modern oriental charm and the finest cuisine. Accessed via the winding stone staircase to the second floor of this converted townhouse, you pass the small outdoor dining terrace that overlooks the twinkling bay lined by bars and restaurants. A tip for summer dining – avoid the seats towards the furthest end of the terrace as your meal will be lit, not by candlelight, but by the glowing neon hues of McDonalds’ golden arches!
On entering the restaurant, a warm welcome and opulent decor awaits you. Warm up to the main dining event with an aperitif in the elegant bar located on the lower level of the split-level restaurant. They do make really good Mojitos to cajole your taste buds into pre-dinner action!
The Zest Menu
The stylish decor continues through the restaurant with nice touches evident in the contemporary table set-ups and seating arrangements. There is also a sushi bar in the middle of the restaurant, manned by a Japanese sushi chef, where you can perch on high stools to watch your meal being prepared.
While the menu is billed as East meets West, expect a bias towards the oriental menu. A vast array of fantastic flavours from Singapore, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia are all on offer under the ‘Eastern’ part of the menu. A separate sushi section at the back of the menu furthers the extensive Eastern selection. The ‘Western’ menu is typically fine dining continental cuisine with a choice of fish, duck, lamb, beef and vegetarian dishes all available. Western dishes are complimented by rich jus’, purees and fondues and there are some innovative and very tasty starters on offer. Overall, there is a lot to choose from, which can be overwhelming as all the dishes sound and taste delicious. Refining your choice can be tricky.
Service with Zest!
The staff at Zest are all really polite and generally very attentive. Your order is taken promptly, your wine is always topped up and your courses are served in a timely fashion. You do, however, have a number of waiters and waitresses dealing with you which means when the restaurant is really busy, you can get overlooked and it can be difficult to get someone’s attention. However, this seems to be limited to times when there are a lot of big parties in and is the exception as opposed to the norm. Dining at Zest is generally a highly pleasurable experience.
Take it Away
If you are looking for a night in and don’t want to, or don’t have the facilities to cook, you’ll be pleased to know that Zest does take-aways. While seemingly inconsistent with a fine dining restaurant, the take-away service is a much welcomed addition to the Zest repertoire – especially given that Malta does not appear to have a particularly varied selection of good take-away outlets. The Zest ‘Room Service’ take-away menu http://www.zestflavours.com/restaurant/menu/docs/deliverymenu.pdf offers a narrower selection of the main menu and offers sharer meals such as ‘The Best of Zest’ and ‘A Taste of Zest’ depending on how hungry you are. They also have a number of good wines on offer to accompany your delivery. It won’t however, be the cheapest take-away you’ve ever had as the premium nature of the restaurant’s food is reflected in the prices.
If you happen to time it right you can also take advantage of the monthly buffets Zest lay on. For €27.50 you can sample the best of the starter, main course and desert selection in an all-you-can-eat format. A more casual night out than the usual dining experience at Zest but still with the exquisite standard of food you come to expect from this restaurant, minus the price tag.
To find out more about Zest’s menu and for bookings visit:
Or call: Reservations: (+356) 2138 7600