Glen Waverley is more Bureaucrat's old stomping ground than mine or Snooze's, but both of us were keen to try somewhere in this unfamiliar part of town. A quick Internet search revealed a few likely looking cafes and for no particular reason we settled on Zest 89.
Just in general, and nothing to do with Zest 89, one thing which struck me about Glen Waverley is that it has a very different feel to most of the more multicultural areas of Melbourne. Multicultural can mean different things to different people and in areas like Box Hill, Springvale or parts of the CBD it normally means a group of non-Anglo Australians creating a comforting or familiar home-like enclave in a new city. While they have a significant Asian population I think places like Glen Waverley and Doncaster have a very different feel, with the Asian overlay over a definite Melbourne suburban feel, a fusion more than a cultural patchwork. I suspect it reflects the more upper-middle class nature of these migrant communities, who were more familiar and receptive to western mores and made an active decision to migrant here, as opposed to those who were desperate to escape where they were or are comparatively recent arrivals. Mmmmm thought the different feel between the various areas might also reflect the different countries of origin.
But back on the topic at hand. First impressions of Zest 89 are of a bright and airy if a little generic café. Hard floors, full length windows along one side and a lot of brown but lifted a little by the amount of natural light and the atypically generous spacing between tables. Early on a Sunday morning the café wasn't busy but a significant number of tables already had reserved signs on them.
A quick photo of my pretty looking hot chocolate. Nice and creamy with a good head of froth, but it could have used a stronger flavoured bottom layer.
The menu is fairly typical Melbourne eastern suburbs in style with lots of familiar options. The smoked salmon with poached eggs, spinach and hollandaise sauce came on two thick, lightly toasted pieces of brioche. The combination of hollandaise sauce with the brioche meant that this was a tasty and colourful but quite rich breakfast option. I was left though with the feeling that while good it could have been better, with, to me anyway, the spinach just a bit limp and the smoked salmon not seeming as fresh as that sampled in some other upmarket cafes over the last few months.
Snooze's choice de jour was an old favourite of hers, crushed avocado with feta on whole grain (I think) bread. The lightly toasted bread added texture to soft smooth avocado but to me it could have used the addition of something to give it a deeper, more interesting flavour. That's a fairly common criticism I have with crushed/smashed avocado dishes though, that avocado itself to me is a little bland and works better in combination with other flavours.
My favourite dish of the day was Snooze's other choice of the mixed berries in yogurt with honey. This may have had something to do with my being a fan of yogurt and berries in general but I loved the soft creaminess of the yogurt shot through with these sudden bursts of honey sweetness.
Most of Zest Café felt familiar and safe but competently done, with the style in which the café is set out suiting the area and food. One thing did stand out to me however, our perky, efficient waitress. When picking out where to eat it was noticeable that there were a number of complaints about service when busy but we had no issues at all, with menus delivered promptly, staff appearing just as we were ready to order, food arriving in a timely way and plates not being left to hang around. Combine that with a friendly smile and its what early morning café service should be like everywhere.
Food - 7.5
Service - 8
Ambience - 7.5
Price - 7
Glen Waverley VIC 3150
Tel: (03) 9561 8918