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Review: Takeaway burgers offer great lockdown value while diner remains closed

PUBLISHED: 07:49 27 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:09 27 June 2020

A double stacked feast - The Big Un at Zaks in Norwich

A double stacked feast - The Big Un at Zaks in Norwich

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Burger fan Nick Richards sampled the Zaks takeaway menu, which provided a great value family meal.

Collecting an order from Zaks - you're not allowed in the diner unless you've preorderedCollecting an order from Zaks - you're not allowed in the diner unless you've preordered

Next Saturday really is independence day when the nation’s restaurants and pubs reopen. Anyone wanting to celebrate America’s Independence Day will hopefully be able to go out and grab a nice burger at a Norfolk eatery, but until then, a takeaway from one of Norwich’s old favourites fits the bill perfectly.

I’ll hold my hand up straight away and confess that I love a burger and I love Zaks. I live less than half a mile from its two Norwich diners and under normal circumstances I am a regular visitor. So in a way this review is written through star-spangled glasses.

But I’ll also say that I don’t really do takeaways other than fish and chips and maybe the odd Chinese. I’ve never ordered a burger from a restaurant and had it delivered, I just can’t get it out of my head that it wouldn’t arrive at my house the same way it arrives on a restaurant plate.

So much about going to Zaks and somewhere like Captain America’s is about atmosphere and also for flashbacks to being a kid. Nothing much has changed inside these Norwich burger institutions for decades and that, coupled with the music, menus and medley of sauces on display is what I love about eating at a burger joint and, in my view, why they continue to be so popular.

Hot Diggidy Dog from Zaks, NorwichHot Diggidy Dog from Zaks, Norwich

Service

Rather than fling open their doors to takeaway customers and end up with a huge queue snaking down the famous hill of the Mousehold branch of Zaks, they issued slots for you to pick to collect your food.

At the time of writing these are available from the Mousehold and Poringland restaurants only. Just like booking a table you select online the time you want your food. Be warned, though, you may not get a look in at peak times like Friday and Saturday evenings.

We picked a child-friendly time of 5pm on a Thursday and earlier in the day Zaks called and we placed the order.

Collecting it was a breeze. I arrived in the car park just before 5pm and walked up the hill to the front of the restaurant. Tables and chairs near the kitchen mean you can only set foot in the restaurant by a couple of feet. But my order was completed just as I arrived and I swiftly left with two brown paper bags full of American goodies.

Delicious Cheesy Churros from Zaks in NorwichDelicious Cheesy Churros from Zaks in Norwich

Food

My biggest concerns were the packaging, the heat of the food and whether it would still taste as good. Understandably there was plenty of cardboard to dump in the blue bin. Each burger came in a cardboard box and was wrapped in foil - just like they used to on the old takeaway van near Norwich Castle.

I have to say the food, especially the fries, didn’t stay that warm even though we were eating them within five minutes of it being collected.

Nevertheless, the food still tasted good and the burgers were juicy, succulent and, as always, so inviting.

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Zaks takeaway menu has been trimmed down to make it easier to order. There are 17 different burgers all priced between £7 and £9.50 that are different only in the various toppings. That’s it apart from a couple of fried chicken options and a couple of sides. The children’s menu is just a choice of burger or hot dog.

The Big Un from Zaks in NorwichThe Big Un from Zaks in Norwich

We ordered three burgers from the main menu. I had The Big Un (£8.55), which is a double-stacked burger covered in cheese with a simple garnish of pickle, onion, tomato and lettuce. The burger had that great smoky Zaks flavour and had a taste that you simply can’t replicate from a supermarket burger. All very good.

My seven-year-old son, who has grand ideas about how much he can eat, rolled his eyes at the kids menu and had a Cheese De-Luxe (£6.75) from the proper menu which was pretty much the same as mine. We couldn’t tell the difference - I think mine might have had more cheese on it, but it was also good. He ate about half of it.

My wife had The Hogfather (£8.10), a nicely cooked burger topped with pulled pork and a choice of three sauces. She had Tennessee Pulled Pork and said it was great. I’ve had this before in the restaurant and it’s my go-to choice. Something about the pulled pork topping gives it the extra mile and upgrades it from the other options.

Going for this option over the other 16 gives you that same kind of buzz you got as a kid from winning pass the parcel at a children’s party. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.

My youngest son, four, ordered the Hot Diggidy Dog (£4.50) which was good. Far too big for a child his age but ideal for someone aged 8 to 11. Good value, though, for a child’s dish.

There are a coupe of side options. The burgers don’t come with anything so fries or curly fries are an extra £2.25. We ordered two normal and one curly and shared them. In addition there is garlic bread (£2.25), deep fried pickles (£4.50) and cheesy churros (£4.05). We ordered a portion of these and they were an unexpected hit.

Cheese De-Luxe from Zaks in NorwichCheese De-Luxe from Zaks in Norwich

They’re savoury churros filled with Manchego cheese with a punchy tomato and chilli relish. Really crispy and very moreish.

You can’t currently order any drinks but there are a couple of dessert options - brownie bites (£3.60) and four milk chocolate cookies (£3.60). We ordered the latter as a little post dinner treat and they were well received. Fresh, bendy and delicious cookies finished off a great meal and the kids especially enjoyed it.

Price

All takeway food has 10pc off which made it even cheaper than the menu you see online. We paid £40.05 for three burgers, three fries, a child’s hot dog, the churros and the cookies. At £10 each it’s good value. It was great to revisit Zaks again in some form but I can’t wait to be back in the restaurant.

For a start, eating at home means the food seems to be eaten far too quickly - within 20 minutes of the food arriving we were done. Until they reopen it’s a good substitute, but I for one can’t wait to climb up that hill and dine inside once again.

Zaks can be found at www.zaks.uk.com and its Mousehold and Poringland diners are offering takeaways.

Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited.

The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer.

The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications


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