Zest Launches Hearty, Affordable Sunday Brunch

Cindy Hutson's Zest opened in March, bringing a needed vibrance to Miami's otherwise bleak downtown area. Now, three months later, the eatery has launched Sunday brunch, giving life and warmth to the Southeast Financial Center each weekend. 

Hutson debuted brunch Mother's Day, May 8, saying it's something she envisioned since opening her "Cuisine of the Sun"-inspired restaurant. Hutson and Delius Shirley, her partner in and out of the kitchen, wanted to create a Sunday soiree where diners can leisurely eat and drink through the late-afternoon hours, embodying Miami's unique culture of Sunday brunch. Instead of turning tables in hourly intervals or restricting bottomless booze to a certain time, Hutson and Shirley welcome and encourage eaters to spend the day at Zest.

Zest's brunch menu is inspired by the duo's ideal vision of how they like to spend a Sunday, fusing a relaxed environment with tasty and filling eats at a reasonable price. The $45 prix fixe includes four menu selections, along with one cocktail and unlimited trips to a ceviche bar. Add $25 for bottomless mimosas, bellinis, bloody marys, or mojitos. 

New Times was invited for a taste to experience Hutson and Shirley's way to brunch firsthand. Begin with Hutson's "beyond the reef" buffet selection, which includes three ceviches that are each made to order. There's classic, tropical, and Peruvian, the last blending cilantro, avocado, green mango, charred corn, and passionfruit.
As you nosh on ceviche, prepare for your first course, which will be a selection "from the hen house." Huston adds a flavorful twist to each of the four egg dishes, which include baked eggs casserole, quiche, huevos rancheros, and eggs Benedict. She fuses ingredients such as conch hash, Brie, and tequila queso, giving each plate extra oomph. 
Transition from salty to sweet with the second course, which includes a choice of gluten-free pancakes, homemade pop-tarts filled with guava and cheese, French toast stuffed with almond-orange cream cheese, or a pastry basket with treats such as croissants and muffins. Most plates come with a smattering of fresh fruits like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.Sip a mimosa or two before the third course, which turns Zest's breakfast-oriented brunch toward lunch. Menu offerings include lighter options such as fish tacos and heartier plates like ackee and saltfish, jerk chicken pappardelle, and braised oxtail and butter beans. Add a side to your main plate with options like mac 'n' cheese, avocado and tomato salad, and yuca cakes.
If you thought you were done, there's more. Brunch ends with a dessert platter, including freshly made red velvet whoopie pies and dulce de leche cookies.

Brunch runs Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Valet parking is available on the north side of the Southeast Financial Center (NE Second St., Miami) for $7 with validation from Zest. 

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Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor, with her work appearing in print and digital titles worldwide.
Contact: Clarissa Buch