A fusion of Asian and European flavours are full of zest at this outdoor café.

Zest is the outer skin of citrus fruit, which is full of essential oils, scraped off and added to dishes to add flavour. It is a key ingredient in many desserts, ossobuco and rice dishes as well as sweet and sour condiments such as pickles, chutney and marmalade. Zest is also one of the 24 positive psychology strengths possessed by humanity. A component of courage, zest is defined as living life with a sense of excitement, anticipation and energy.

Combine those ingredients and you have Zest, the reincarnation of Ascot Provisions, one of Ascot’s perennial cafés. Zest is the new home for one of Brisbane’s culinary legends, Timmy Kemp. Timmy was born in Thailand and trained in French cookery. She has cooked at Baguette, Cha Cha Char, Harveys and most recently at her own restaurant, Timmy’s. Her style is European enhanced by Asian flavours – a fusion that is sometimes hot and always exciting. Zesty!

Zest reopened a few weeks before the New Year and will not disappoint Timmy’s fans. The menu includes some of Timmy’s signature dishes such as her warm duck salad with shallot pancake and soy chilli dressing ($25) as well as new flavours full of anticipation and energy.

We shared the Oriental Trio ($20) for entrée – a selection of Asian-inspired titbits which vary daily – salt and pepper quail, duck spring rolls and prawn fritters on sugar cane. All great, especially the prawn fritters – tender, soft and full of sweet prawn flavour. For main I had a lamb shank in yellow curry with kipfler potatoes and basmati rice – the meat, tender and falling from the bone, went well with the light creamy, slightly spicy, yellow curry although the two starches were a slight disconnect together.

The special of the day main was Prawn Gyoza (wonton dumplings) with sautéed prawns and Vietnamese coleslaw ($27) – generous and full of flavour.
There is a good range of desserts including specials (such as sticky date pudding with vanilla bean ice cream) but the standout is the Pandan sago pudding with coconut sorbet ($9) – warm, soft tender sago in a brilliant green Pandan sauce – simply delicious.

The restaurant is small, seating 40, and located outside but with good weather-proofing if needed. The service is efficient and friendly. Currently Zest is BYO and there is a bottle shop next door – however, they will be applying for a licence. Timmy is also producing a range of fresh pastries every day, perfect with coffee.