“Art and works of art do not make an artist; sense and enthusiasm and instinct do.”  Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlelgel

Outside of Zaitzeff


Eatery:   Zaitzeff, 72 Nassau Street, New York, NY

My first Zaitzeff experience occurred back when this site was just an idea knocking around inside my head.  I was in the East Village on the way to get my hair cut, and walked by the restaurant.  It looked intriguing, so I had Husband meet me there for dinner after the appointment.  I really enjoyed it – it was a cute, funky, somewhat romantic-looking place with bottles of wine all over, candlelight…….and a surprisingly limited menu (just burgers plus a few other sandwiches).

Sadly, that restaurant is now defunct but – when I discovered that there was also a  Financial District location (actually, the maiden location of the mini-chain) near where we live – I was excited to go back.  This time, the experience was less magical.  Like many other storefronts in this neighborhood, the restaurant was tiny – feeling more like a mom and pop fast food place than like a cool burger shack.  I was also less enchanted with the quality of the food than on my visit to the other site, and I wondered if the ambiance (including the never-ending construction going on outside) had put me off.  That was months ago.  Rather than write up the experience right away, I delayed.  Which got me thinking……

One thing about this site is that – as a philosophical matter – I’ve decided never to write up food or experiences I don’t enjoy on some level.  Enthusiasm for the subject at hand is what keeps me posting so, as time passed and I failed to create a piece about Zaitzeff (even as the receipt and takeaway menu stared at me from my desk), I wondered if I lacked enthusiasm for the place, or if I was just a plain old procrastinating layabout.  In the end I couldn’t decide, so resolved to visit again in hopes of a more objective point of view (and a good kobe burger).

Kobe burger at Zaitzeff (photo by MJ Byers)

And here it is:  My desire to love Zaitzeff outstrips my actual ardor.  There’s nothing really wrong with the product – the burgers are made with fresh, hormone-free beef, the buns are unusual and muffiny and the toppings (in this case, tomato, grilled onions, lettuce and cheddar cheese) are fresh and good.  Zaitzeff cooks their burgers medium, which is the absolutely right thing to do.  The texture of the sandwich was just fine – bread doesn’t apart, burger is juicy, firm and crunchy (from the lettuce) in all the right places.  For me, it fell apart a bit with the flavor profile.  Whereas I like a burger that leads with a robust beefy flavor, the first note I got from the Zaitzeff kobe burger was from the grilled onions – a little sweet, a little greasy.  Which sounds so much more negative than what I intend, because this isn’t really a bad thing.  These burgers have a homemade quality – like what you get at your mom’s house or at a friend’s barbeque (though the Zaitzeff burger lacks the strong grilled note you tend to get at the typical ‘round the way barbeque).   It’s not a bad burger by any means and this particular taste profile probably works for a lot of people.  Just less so for me.

Price:  ¼ Pound Kobe Beef Burger with cheese, $0.50 before tax.

Destination Burger:  Not so much, but probably better than the other fast food burger fare in the Financial District.

Fat & Calorie Worthy:  Possibly – depends on how your tastebuds are wired.

Optional French Fry Rating:  No fries this time.

Today’s Weigh In:  Up another pound.  Ugh.

TAGS: , , , ,


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment