First look at Zaks Diner's new menu - including burgers based on the original 70s recipe
PUBLISHED: 18:30 07 June 2019
The Norwich dining institution has revamped its classic burger to take diners back in time.
It's all-change for iconic Norwich diner Zaks as the team get set to reveal a revamped menu, and all-new burger recipe, based on the original Zaks burger of 43 years ago.
Operations manager Rob Spillings remembers clearly going to Harvey Platt's first burger van (on what was Castle Meadow) as a boy. And it's that bite of nostalgia, and customer feedback that's been behind the transformation.
"We thought, there's two really big things we do that have been with Zaks since the start. The wings are pretty famous. The rub we put on them was developed in 1976 and has stayed with us since that time. And there's a burger called The Big'Un. All the burgers used to be wrapped in tin foil so we wrap that one. That's the original burger we served when we first opened.
"When we looked recently at all the things that make Zaks great, and how to evolve the business and push it forward we concentrated on the burger recipe, looking at how it's developed since we first started. And we've tried to replicate that flavour. We think it's as close as we can get it to the original burger. It's made for us by a Norwich supplier we've worked with since 1976. It's a bit coarser in the cut but it's still 100% beef and the mincing creates more moisture when it cooks so it tastes better and holds better in the bun.
"We knew we could do better, that's part of the evolutionary process. We got a lot of feedback from customers and focus groups towards the end of last year telling us they thought we could do better with our burgers, so we've listened."
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The new and improved burger patties should take diners' tastebuds back to the 70s, while the toppings (reduced from 22 to 12 combinations) tap into the modern market. Rob says each burger has "a personality of its own". Classics like cheese and bacon, and the Western burgers have stayed but there are newcomers. The Sloppy Joe is topped with beef brisket, Boston beans and cheese. The Mighty Mouse is stacked with three types of cheese. Another comes laden with bacon, pulled pork and pastrami. And there's a veggie option of grilled halloumi in a bun, with plenty of other veggie, vegan and gluten-free options available - with everything as far as possible cooked from scratch on the premises.
In addition to the new burgers, regulars to the diner will find even more variety to tickle their tastebuds. American-style deep fried pickles. A fun sharing section where you can essentially pick a whole load of different types of fried chicken to pick at from a tray. And the Zak Stack which, at £30, towers up everything from chicken and ribs to burgers and fries. "For us," says Rob, "it's about the fun and pushing the boundaries a bit. We wanted dishes where people turn around and see what other people have ordered and say 'wow, what is that they've got there?'"
An improved grill section has more different cuts of meat (sourced from Hazels butchers in Norwich), including brisket, as well as salmon steak fillets from the local fishmonger. And there's a new deli selection too, crafting Reubens, club sandwiches, Philly steak sandwiches and shrimp rolls out of fresh pretzel buns.
"We want to cater for everyone, from two-year-olds up to grandparents, and with this new menu we think we'll be able to do that," adds Rob.
The new menu is now available at the Mousehold restaurant, rolling out to the other premises over the next few weeks.