Thursday, January 26, 2017

Episode L: Zenzero Kitchen (DFW)

Welcome to the Golden episode of the Reuben Ranger.  L! We made it. Unlike the NFL, we will continue with roman numerals until the end of time. I don’t know why I like roman numerals but I do. Maybe it was traveling through Europe as a kid and seeing the landmarks dated with them or maybe it was in high school when the Y2K was going on and MMs were the candy to have. Any kind of esoteric academic thing that annoys other people, I’m usually all about it.

A lunch date with my sweetie at Zenzero Kitchen was the perfect opportunity to try a Reuben at a cozy little lunch spot in town. I was trying to fight off a cold but I had enough in me to give this one a try.
Here’s to another L to get us to C.

Reuben Panini
“Corned beef cooked in-house with swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Served on jewish rye bread with house-made potato chips”

Appearance – (3.9/5.0)
The Reuben looks great but it doesn’t look like a Panini. I appreciate the toasty bread but it doesn’t look like this sandwich actually met a press. It also does not have the buttery glow of a Panini. When I ordered, I asked for the Reuben and I assumed they were going to bring me the Reuben Panini, but looks like I got the off-menu Reuben. I am ok with that but just seems misleading.

This Reuben is a good example of what happens when good toothpicks go bad. It seems to have split one half of the sandwich in two. Clean cut. Looks like a Samurai went through it. 
The house-made potato chips look great but they block the center cut cross section view.

Quality of Ingredients – (4.6/5.0)
I have to start with the brisket, corned beef. I have mentioned before on this blog that it is gutsy to serve corned beef in Texas.  You could use the same cut of meat, slather it with mustard, sprinkle on a simple salt and pepper rub and smoke it! The corned beef on this sandwich was not thinly sliced but cut more like you would serve a brisket sandwich. The meat had some body to it but was tender enough to pull apart.

The menu stressed in-house corned beef and house-made potato chips but the Russian dressing, for me, is what really had the home cooked flavor to it. So, they either have a really good supplier or they forgot to mention that.  They did capitalize Russian on the menu and did not capitalize Swiss or Jewish. This place could be the Communist Bastian of Texas.  They had me questioning whether or not they actually smoke brisket. Scary stuff…

Price – (3.9/5.0)
$12. You know it is expensive when the menu uses whole numbers. If you worry about numbers to the right of the decimal, you probably can’t afford this place. It is better than the $18 Reuben at City Café but still seems high.  

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.4/5.0)
There was definitely a “Ladies Who Lunch” vibe going on here. It is a narrow space with Euro style tables that run the length of the room. You can find yourself very close to your neighbor and you have to pretend you are not listening to their conversation. There is a fancy coffee machine in the front and you can pick up the subtle scent of coffee from your table. This atmosphere is hard to pull off in North Texas because if there is one thing the metroplex has, it’s space.

Taste – (9.2/10.0)
The non-Panini caught me off guard and it is expensive, but it was good! I might even say it was worth it but only if you order water. If you have to pay for a drink too, now you are up to ~$14. Plus, they make it so easy for you to tip 15% or 18% with the iPad square app, now you are getting close to $20.

The toasted non-pressed jewish rye really set the tone and corned beef was tasty and not over seasoned. The sauerkraut did its job by bringing balance to the dish but not overpowering the other flavors. If the first thing you talk about is the sauerkraut, you have done something wrong.  The belle of the ball is the meat and this Reuben had that down!

Overall – (26.0/30.0)

Would I order it again? Yes (with water).  There are usually more qualifiers when I say I would order it again, but this one I really would. Of all 50 (Arabic numerals!) Reubens, I have yet to have the same one twice. This is the closest to my house and could be the first one I go back for. 

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