Dinner Out @ VanZandt Restaurant and Tavern

Cincinnati Magazine's 40 best burgers article a while back was fantastic because, even for someone like me who pays probably too much attention to dining options in our fair city, it unearthed several new places to try. One of the top choices popped out quickly for me, a Northsider now - North College Hill's ZanZandt Restaurant and Tavern, which was ranked 5th.  Sarah and I finally made it up this past week, and while I don't think it's the 5th best burger in the city, it was very good and it's worth a visit.

The Food:  We went for the burgers and we ordered the burgers.  They did have some other food on the menu, but I didn't really pay any attention.  They have an 8oz. and a 16oz. option, and then it's a build your own situation, with about 20 toppings to choose from.  Burgers start at $8 and then each ingredient adds 50 cents to a dollar.  Two burgers (fries come free) cost us $21.  But I digress...

I got my burger with bacon, gorgonzola, and sauteed onions and asked for it cooked medium.  When the meal arrives open-faced, the potato-chive bun stands out as unique and they aren't skimping on the toppings.  Cutting into my sandwich, it clearly was done past medium, and the juiciness did suffer (Sarah's was overcooked a bit too).  But, that is a relatively small quibble with an otherwise very tasty burger.  They don't do anything too special to their patties that I could tell, but this is a great tasting burger.  All of the ingredients could be identified and nothing overshadowed anything else.

I'd put this burger in the same category as a Gordo's burger, if you've been there.  Ours definitely weren't in the Terry's ballpark, but maybe the Cincinnati Magazine folks went on a particularly good night.

The fries are the kind that are battered a bit - we thought they were done in the same oil as the onion straws, and that was not a bad thing.

The Ingredients:  Nothing local or organic here that we heard about or saw.

The Story, Setting, & Service:  We arrived at about 5:30 for dinner, so there was no one in the bar area, and in the dining room in the back (which we didn't know existed at first - it's kind of hidden around a corner) there were only a couple people.  It has a bar and grill feel, with nice new decor and a a couple flat screen TVs at the bar.  The service was prompt and kind, nothing notable really.

They just celebrated their 1 year anniversary, but I hadn't heard of it until the Cincinnati Magazine article.  I haven't heard anyone talk about it, and as close as it is, that's too bad.  Hopefully the word will get out, because it'd be great to have this option near by for years to come.

The Last Bite:  I can't speak to anything else on the menu, but VanZandt is worth a trip for their burgers.  Load it up or keep it simple - either way you won't leave disappointed.

Van Zandt Tavern on Urbanspoon


ctrosecrans said...

i'm surprised with all your usual reviews, you didn't talk about sourcing....

vz's bakes all its bread in house and gets its meat fresh from across the steet every day.

Gavin DeVore Leonard said...

ctrosecrans - thanks for the comment! You're right, I got lazy on this one! I should have asked. Thanks for sharing what you know as well.