We used Michael's work commitments in Sydney as an excuse to stretch out a longer trip, including a few nights in the Blue Mountains. Our base, Leura, proved to be an accessible and cute town (I've added a few extra pics to the end of the post) with a number of nice eateries. One of them was Zest, a restaurant that managed to look bright and airy even on some drizzly days. They serve two to three meals a day of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean inspired food, and we were lucky to snag one of their last unreserved tables early on a Saturday night.
The Zest dinner menu offers small sharing plates, self-contained main meals, set-menu feasts and a kids' section. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are marked (including g-f bread available with a surcharge) and though little looks straight-up vegan, there's a lot that could likely be adjusted with a word to the staff.
We mulled it over with drinks - a local beer for Michael and a glass of home made lemonade ($5.50) for me. The lemonade was a US/Oz clash of lemon cordial and carbonation, with some Middle Eastern mint thrown in; unfortunately it didn't all meld quite as successfully as it should've.
The falafel and eggplant mains were attractive, but we figured that we'd get maximum diversity by requesting the vegetarian shared feast ($27). Indeed, we were treated to a dozen little dishes to share, including (pictured above, clockwise from top left) Moroccan carrot salad, eggplant jam, marinated olives, crusty falafels, tahini, za'atar-sprinkled hummus and almond-topped beetroot dip.
The highlights were (pictured above, back to front) paprika-spiced patatas bravas with aioli, a fattoush salad served with haloumi rather than the traditional fried pita, a couscous salad and fluffy housemade flat bread.
Zest's dessert menu promised such delights as Persian love cake and halva tiramisu semifreddo but we had no hope of fitting them in. Instead we just felt thankful for a fresh, varied and colourful meal in a quiet and comfortable venue.
Zest has previously earned positive write-ups on Take Me To Foodie Heaven, EAT Blue Mountains, beyond jelly and Next Stop: Food.
corner Megalong St & Leura Mall
(02) 4784 1159
dinner, dessert & drinks
Accessibility: There are four steps into the building on entry. Tables are well-spaced and the restaurant is well lit and not too noisy. We ordered at the table and paid at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.