Loud music and shouted conversation bounce off high industrial-style ceilings and hardwood floors, creating the din that defines Zinburger. The boutique-style new burger spot at the amped-up Walt Whitman Shops virtually throbs -- and that's just fine with the crowds willing to bide their time for upward of an hour until a table or booth is available. When there's a line, you can leave your cellphone number and wait for a text telling you your turn has come. Feel free to roam the mall in the interim, although you'll have to walk outside, since there's no indoor entrance.
Once seated, you can contemplate a mural of cows grazing while you decide on drinks -- like a fine, fruity glass of red zinfandel -- and starters. Top choice: zucchini fries, which are hot, crisp, Parmesan-dusted and irresistible. They're great for sharing, as is the colorful chopped salad of assorted vegetables, red quinoa, corn and feta. A surprise star here is chili, a bowlful of subtle fire.
Burgers come on tall, soft, shiny-topped brioche buns that squish down easily when bitten. One night, a breakfast burger with bacon, egg, avocado, mayo and American cheese is undermined by the overcooking of both burger and egg. Another occasion, though, a simple lettuce and tomato-topped burger, upgraded to Kobe beef, unleashes beefy, savory juices. In marked contrast, a turkey burger features meat both dense and grainy. And a veggie burger, alluringly topped with smoked mozzarella, avocado, pea shoots, tomato and mayo, has both the taste and texture of hummus. Much better is the juicy grilled chicken sandwich, which, like everything on the menu, may be topped to order. Try it with pea shoots, Manchego cheese, avocado, tomato and mayo. On the side, order fine, hand-cut fries, which may be fancied up with truffle oil and Parmesan.
Finish with a slice of banana or chocolate cream pie, both capped with freshly whipped cream. Best, though, is the "bars of Zin" shake, made with chocolate ice cream, melted chocolate and praline flakes, which add a bit of crunch to every sip.
On days when the crowd and the cacophony are just too much, order a shake to go and, in the relative quiet of the mall, sip away.