I was excited to have a sushi place open up in Roswell on the Canton Street restaurant corridor, but was skeptical about combining it with tapas. Zest took over a small space that has housed several eating establishments over the years from ice cream parlors to sandwich shops; hopefully they can last a little longer than their predecessors. Judging from the packed house and conversation I heard, they should be OK. First off, it’s definitely modern and trendy with exposed brick walls, polished cement floors and wine storage in the dining room. However, the space is very small which leads to problems when it’s crowded and it gets very loud. Also be prepared to hear all conversations on either side of your table, as they are literally less than a foot apart; I got kind of tired of listening to the elderly gentlemen to our left hitting on their much younger dates. You can only hear so many Viagra jokes and one liners about teaching old dogs new “tricks”…
Most of the tapas we had were OK, but both the pulled pork taco and the lamb lollipops missed the mark. The pork was dry and had no flavor; we each had two bites and pushed it aside. After having so many good pulled pork tacos lately, Hankook (http://www.atlfoodsnob.com/?p=566) and Colorado Catering (http://www.atlfoodsnob.com/?p=774), it was probably a little unfair, but dry pork is a sin and should be punished!
The lamb was sliced way too thin and cooked well done, pretty much erasing all flavor it might have had. The potatoes they served it with were also too dry and salty. Again, we had two bites and set it aside. I don’t like to complain and will not send something back unless there is obviously a mistake, but the waitress didn’t even notice our lack of eating and said nothing, even when I said it was just OK.
On a positive note, the calamari was good; crispy and it included rings and tentacles! As you can probably tell, the lighting is low!
We then switched to the sushi, and it was a big improvement! We had a spicy tuna roll and some nigiri, and they were all great; fresh, nice presentation and simple. The fried shrimp heads were very tasty, even if my wife thought they were disgusting!
Overall, I love the space, but they need to take out a table; the food is inconsistent and they should probably focus on one path and do it well. There were way too many options, and the sushi was far superior to the tapas. The tapas appear to only be on the menu so sushi folks can bring sushi haters and share a meal at the same restaurant. I may have hit them on a bad night, so I plan on making a return visit, but the first one did not leave a great impression on me