Monday, January 14, 2008
Zinburger - mini review
Zinburger opened last month in the spot formerly occupied by Bistro Zin, on River Road west of St. Phillips Plaza. Like its predecessor, Zinburger is owned by Tucson-based restaurant powerhouse Fox Restaurant Concepts. Unlike its predecessor -- a ritzy contemporary cuisine joint -- Zinburger focuses on burgers and shakes. Or to put it more accurately, burgers and shakes with that gilded, upscale, au courant gloss that Fox RC is so famous for.
Zinburger is essentially a more focused version of Fox's late Metro Grill, which was also heavily burger-oriented. Pastoral pictures of cows line the walls, and a stylized cow logo sits perched over the entrance. Small flat-screen TVs tuned to various sporting contests are spread across the dining area, concentrated near the bar. The place was packed when we arrived at 6 pm. The hostess ushered us to a common booth area that was slightly cramped. Our server was friendly and attentive, although service in general was quite slow; I suspect the staff is still working out the kinks of their floor service.
The menu is simple and uncomplicated. Burgers and shakes are the keystone, supported by an array of sides. I chose the Kobe burger with wild mushrooms and cheddar cheese, and omitted the mayo in favor of maple bacon from the extra topping menu (extra toppings are $1 each and include jalapenos, bacon, mushrooms, and BBQ sauce). My companion chose the Samburger with American cheese, maple bacon, and thousand island dressing, and added mushrooms. As a side I selected the double truffle fries (truffle aioli and truffle oil). I chose to forgo the shakes (which looked imposing and delicious) and ordered a beer instead.
The burger was marvelous: a perfectly-prepared, half-pound patty of Kobe beef, cooked medium rare, and bursting with flavory, meaty juices. But at $13 (plus $1 for the excellent maple bacon), it damn well better be. (The Samburger is priced at a more reasonable $10.) The truffle fries were equally marvelous, deeply fragrant and rich. Once again though, at $5 a basket, there's little margin for error. Each hamburger is presented well, with a heaping of pickles and container of ketchup.
Overall I was quite pleased with the food, less so with the prices and slightly sluggish service. I am anxious to try those shakes, however. Perhaps alongside a second helping of truffle fries.