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Zest, David Jones' and Keith Sleppy's American at 200 S. Market Street in Downtown Frederick - Closed May, 2007

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Zest is excellent. I had one of the best stuffed pork chops there. Also the grilled calamari in olive oil appetizer was quite good. Very reasonably priced, casual atmosphere. Attentive staff. IIRC, decent, but not a large, wine selection; not too high a markup. Brunch was a bit of a disappointment, but dinners were good.

Definitely worth a stop in if you're in the area.

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Had dinner at Zest Sunday evening. The restaurant was almost empty - too early, Oscar night? The setting is attractive and the service was fine, but the food was lackluster. We tried two starters: the breaded, fried oysters were good but the house-prepared sausage was leaden. For entrees, I enjoyed the Maryland Rabbit in a tasty sauce accompanied by a variety of baby vegetables, but my husband found the Waterman's Stew, pretty tasteless and disappointing. Ended with good French-press coffee and headed back to D.C.

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To morph a line from Pulp Fiction, "Zest is dead, Baby. Zest is dead."

Well, almost.

We were packing our POD and moving truck Saturday when I noticed the owner/chef of Zest walking along my street with a young Latino couple and another man. I waved to him since he would recognize me from our several long conversations while I was the only one in the restaurant. When he made his way up to my house, he put a petition in front of me and said that the couple accompanying him would like to open an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood and would like me to sign the petition if I had no objections. I asked him if he was selling the restaurant and he said he was. "I'm taking a month vacation, man. Running a restaurant with two young kids is just too much."

"It doesn't help when you have no parking, you price your meals outside the comfort level of your dining audience, charge almost $6 for a bottle of Bass, and deliver uneven quality of food," I thought to myself. I said, "Good luck to you, Dave. Enjoy that vacation," signing the petition.

I really do wish him well. He's a great guy who served me SOME of my best meals in quality-deprived Frederick. But it does say something that when we chose our last meal in Frederick after closing on our house on Friday, we didn't just walk two blocks to Zest; instead we drove to Monocacy Crossing.

My only fear is that he's forcing another mediocre Italian restaurant on my now-former neighborhood.



P.S. I guess I gotta change my moniker now, huh? "NoMoDiningInFrederick"?

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Thanks for the report, Brian. What a bummer. I thought they did so well in their original location. I wonder if they would have survived longer if they'd been just a block or two closer to the creek--The Tasting Room seems to be thriving on the other side of the creek, and IIRC the price points of both places are similar.

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