RIP Burgerfest. Your existence in Exeter was short lived. Your burgers were nice, but your secret recipe was not overly transparent. Your Sega room was liked, your ping pong table was novel but ultimately the demise of your parent company meant your service was short lived. Although your value was great, your burgers were chargrilled, your beer kegs were terribly harsh on my sensitive derrier.
Out the ashes of the burgery flames comes Zita’s Bar & Grill, still selling burgers but also an emphasis on steaks and cocktails. The parent company owns the Taste Cafe in the Harlequins Shopping Centre, and Waikiki amongst other places; Zita’s prides itself on being local and independent, a gastro-pub that is ‘homely’ and ‘a friendly spot’. I wouldn’t call it homely as that brings up a whole set of expectations that I wouldn’t expect from a gastro-pub style restaurant. But friendly? Yes, very.
We booked a large table as there was about eight of us for 6pm. We didn’t arrive until 6:30pm at the earliest. There was no disapproving tutting, or impatient briskness, we were welcomed and we took our seats and chose our drinks.
The interior still has echoes of Burgerfest; a large mural in a comic style that exclaims how large a burger is, still emblazons itself across the wall (might need a few cans of Dulux to cover over that) and the Sega Room is still there too. The atmosphere is much more mellow, chilled music piped softly in the background and COMFY SEATS, no beer kegs, just sofas and nice chairs.
The menu is a simple but effective selection of burgers, with names like The Shaun and The Perfect Pull. There is a wine list, a selection of cocktails, and a nice selection of beers. The two chaps that run the restaurant have previously ran Burgerfest in Torquay, and there are many nods to BF in some aspects, but overall this is a new and shining restaurant.
I went for the The Usual Suspect burger. £7.00 is a good price, with some Rosemary and Garlic fries for £3.50 and a drink, for under £15 quid it echoes the great value of BF.
The Usual Suspect is dripping with BBQ sauce. Stacked with giant homemade onion rings, this towering ediface to meatiness was one of the best burgers I’d had for a while for under a tenner. The meat was seasoned well, and it had a great taste along with it (they source their meat from Dart’s Farm). The smoked cheese and bacon was a perfect balance to the burger, and even though I had to deconstruct it, it was a glorious burger.
The Rosemary and Garlic fries were chunky and well cooked, given there were eight of us, everything came out hot and together.
Zita’s gets my recommendation as a place to eat as it echoes many of the positive values of Burgerfest. Cheap food, good value and a friendly atmosphere. But the one thing that worried me slightly was that for a Friday night, the restaurants was deserted. We were the only diners for most of the evening, then joined by two other diners, but that was pretty much it. If you’re thinking of going out over the Easter holidays, please come here, more people need to see these burgers.