Zest: Dubai’s ‘original healthy café and restaurant’

Besides their vegan offerings, Zest’s interior is simple and straightforward. (Supplied)
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Updated 05 March 2020

Zest: Dubai’s ‘original healthy café and restaurant’

  • Zest appeals to the growing market of health-conscious consumers

DUBAI: Zest’s website promises “healthy, nutrient-rich, delicious food,” appealing to the growing market of health-conscious consumers. Early on a Friday morning, we visited the outlet near Dubai’s Miracle Garden to sample some of the wide variety of items — including vegan options — on offer.

The interior is simple and straightforward. Lots of green (both flora and textiles), and nothing too fancy. The staff were excellent — offering suggestions when we needed them, and friendly and attentive throughout. It’s a nice touch, too, that Zest offers cardboard straws rather than plastic. 

The outlet is located near Dubai’s Miracle Garden. (Supplied)

The coffee was excellent. The double espresso had a rich aromatic flavor, with a hint of sour notes and a medium-to-light roast. My companion opted for a mocha latte with cashew-nut milk, which cost roughly $2 extra — perhaps reflecting how rare it is to find it in Dubai’s cafés at the moment. Hopefully, as it becomes more commonplace, that price will drop considerably. The coffee certainly tasted different, with the cashew substitute giving it a sweet, milky aftertaste. It might not be the best choice for the true coffee lover, though, as — like many milk substitutes — the watery base tends to dilute the flavor. 

We selected some baked goodies to accompany our coffees: A vegan banana, chocolate and walnut muffin and an almond biscotto. The muffin was juicy, fluffy and very light. The combination of textures and flavors was excellent — with the slightly melted dark chocolate chunks balanced by the crunch of the nuts. The biscotto was crispy and dry, just as it should be, and delicious when dipped in the coffee.

Zest also offers patrons the possibility of creating their own salad using a variety of bases including lettuce, rocket, pasta, and couscous. (Supplied)

For our mains, we ordered a salmon salad and a vegan falafel slider burger. The salad was a little bland, with a limited range of ingredients. Much of the salad consisted of romaine lettuce — somewhat disappointing both aesthetically and in terms of flavor. Still, the ingredients were all fresh and the portion was quite generous, despite being billed as the “light” option. Zest also offers patrons the possibility of creating their own salad using a variety of bases including lettuce, rocket, pasta, and couscous. 

The highlight of the meal was the falafel slider, which came with a side of fries and a great, slightly smoky, tomato sauce. The falafel itself was crunchy outside and juicy inside, with a slightly sweet sauce sandwiched in the middle of the slider. The fries were also crispy and fresh, and happily without the excess grease that so often ruins restaurant fries. 

Zest's desserts would make for an excellent refreshing summer treat. (Supplied)​ 

For dessert, we went for the tropical coconut smoothie bowl and classic pancakes. The smoothie bowl — with flakes of coconut and a sprinkle of granola and nuts on top — was delicious. The texture was similar to melted ice cream or a thick smoothie, but the nuts and granola gave it a welcome crunch. It would make for an excellent refreshing summer treat. 

The smoothie bowl — with flakes of coconut and a sprinkle of granola and nuts on top — was delicious. (Supplied)

The pancakes were a huge letdown. The sides were brown and crispy, but the inside was more like custard than a pancake. They seemed undercooked and tasted raw. Definitely not “classic.”

Overall, however, Zest proved to be well worth the visit, and we would highly recommend the delicious vegan bakery and the falafel slider.

Missing your salon? How to care for your hair while you #StayHome

We speak to a hair expert on the dos and don’ts of at-home hair care. (File/Instagram)
Updated 2 min 22 sec ago

Missing your salon? How to care for your hair while you #StayHome

DUBAI: As salon-goers face the closure of spas, salons and barbershops, we speak to Haneen Odeh, owner of UAE’s Snob salon for her take on the dos and don’ts of at-home hair care.

Many men and women who rely on salon visits to keep their lengths healthy could be left wondering what to do between now and their next visit to a professional hair stylist. But just as important is what not to do (read: DIY trim job) to avoid ruining your hair and having to impose your own personal period of self-isolation once the pandemic is over due to a ruined haircut you tried to pull off in the bathroom mirror.

Don’t bleach your own hair
“For those who usually go to the salon to dye their lengths blonde, roots may be starting to show now. And while it might be tempting, I would strongly urge to not bleach your own roots. Lightening dark hair is a very complex multi-step process that requires years of experience and professional grade products only available at salons. Bleaching your hair incorrectly might result in burning and damaging your hair. Instead, opt for a root spray such as the L'Oreal Paris Magic Root Cover Up Concealer Spray. Otherwise, you can always conceal your dark roots with a headband or try wrapping your hair up with a scarf.” 

Do deep conditioning treatments
“Use this time to nourish your hair with a deep conditioning treatment. A lot of people simply apply it in the shower on wet hair for a few minutes and call it a day, but that way means that your lengths aren’t getting the full benefits of the product. Think of hair like a sponge, when it’s wet, it’s already full of water and cannot absorb anything more. So to make sure the product is fully absorbed into your locks, towel dry your hair after shampooing and then apply the treatment. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes and then rinse. You’ll see a huge difference.” May we suggest The Let It Go Circle hair mask from Davines, which is designed to boost hydration and revitalize dry and brittle strands?  

Don’t pick up the scissors
“When you’re bored, it might be tempting to pick up the scissors but, and I can’t stress this enough, don’t trim your own bangs or make any big changes to your hair cut on your own. It will inevitably go wrong and you will end up paying more to get it fixed in the long run. Try out some new hairstyles instead. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube so experiment a little and get your hair professionally cut once it’s safe to do so.”

 Don’t over wash
“The more you wash your strands, the more you strip the scalp of its natural oils, and that in turn makes the scalp produce even more oil, which causes you to wash your hair more often — and the cycle goes on and on. Now is the perfect opportunity to give your lengths a break and cut down on the washing. Your hair might get oily, but once the adjustment period is over, you will notice that it will require less frequent washing.”

Do try scalp treatments
“Too often, we pay attention to the lengths of our hair and give our scalp no attention. But caring for your scalp improves the overall health of your tresses, stimulates hair growth and gets rid of dandruff due to product buildup. Scalp treatments range from serums to salt scrubs, so pick a product that suits your hair needs. Le Labo's basil-scented Scrub Shampoo uses black sea salt and menthol to clear away dirt and cool scalps down.”