An organic café gets an epicurean boost
When looking for somewhere new to eat, consider Café Zesta, a restaurant that satisfies taste buds and helps save the environment.
The café has recently changed over from its previous personality, Anjou, which was an organic juice bar. Still clinging to its commitment to organics, the small restaurant has taken on an entirely different concept.
“It’s hard to turn a profit with an organic juice bar. People were really into our food and we wanted to do more of that,” said Chef Maria Cooper.
Previously, Anjou offered cold foods such as wraps and salads. Now the restaurant prepares a multitude of steaming and flavorful ethnic foods with a focus on specific dietary needs.
“Most of our customer base is interested in gluten-free, dairy-free foods,” Cooper said. “With ethnic dishes we’re able to pack a lot flavor into these specialty diets with spices.”
While perusing the menu I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at the symbols next to each dish indicating gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegetarian or vegan; my memories of foods like these are bland and miserable.
Regardless, I took advantage of their free sample policy, which allows customers to try any dish that is already made before having to make a selection. I was surprised by the intense flavor crammed into the little samples.
According to the restaurant’s Web site, menu selections change daily and people can sign up for weekly e-mail updates on these changes.
Assistant Manager Eric Isbell recommended I try the Massaman Curry with Chicken ($9.25) and I took his suggestion.
I ordered the dish to go, and Isbell loaded it into a biodegradable to go box for me. This is another one of the café’s benefits; they’re zero waste.
Everything involved in a to go order is biodegradable, which includes the bags and the fork that go with the meal.
After my food was packed up, I sat down and spoke with Cooper for a bit longer. She was enthusiastic about her food, and emphasized her commitment to organics.
“We don’t even consider conventional when it comes to produce,” said Cooper. “All our produce is organic, and our meats are either organic or all natural, meaning no hormones or antibiotics. Our lamb is certified organic and we get it from a Colorado farm. Our dairy is organic, too.”
Yet Café Zesta may have even found the answer to keeping the price of organic food down.
“Everything is made from scratch here. It takes more time, but it’s cheaper,” said Cooper.
Apparently it’s tastier too. People have responded well to the new offerings at Café Zesta.
“The community has been very embracing. Our clientele base has broadened a lot since we switched over to this new concept,” said Cooper.
Evidently, things have been picking up at 820 Pearl St. However, the restaurant is still in the process of bouncing back after Anjou’s near letdown.
One drawback is their hours; they’re open only on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ambiance needs development as well, as the stark and quiet interior feels more like a storehouse than a café.
However, these are things that improve with time. What’s important now is the food, and they’ve certainly covered that aspect. After I left, I found a nearby bench to eat my meal. I savored my chicken curry; the chicken was tender and perfectly seasoned along with fresh vegetables and draped over a bed of brown rice.
“People want healthy food, but they also want food that’s genuinely good,” said Cooper.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Lauren Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org.