ZBTaterTotCass.jpg

What: Tater Tot Casserole
When: 8:30 p.m.
Where: Zayda Buddy’s, 5404 Leary Ave., BALLARD
Cost: $9.50 for casserole, plus $2.50 for my bottomless Mello Yello


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I Ate This: Zayda Buddy's Pizza

ZBTaterTotCass.jpg

What: Tater Tot Casserole
When: 8:30 p.m.
Where: Zayda Buddy’s, 5404 Leary Ave., BALLARD
Cost: $9.50 for casserole, plus $2.50 for my bottomless Mello Yello
Recommended? Yes. It’s much cheaper than a plane ticket to Minnesota.

Zayda Buddy’s, the new pizza and beer joint on Leary, has finally brought “Minnesota-style” pizza to Ballard. (Thank GOD, we've been waiting.) Translation from my pal Chris, who grew up in the Milwaukee area, and claims "Milwaukee-style" and "Minnesota-style" pies are close cousins: these pizzas have a thin crust, the sauce goes all the way to the edge, and they're always, always cut into squares rather than roughly triangular slices.

But I’m a Chicago-style girl, myself, so I left the pizza to Chris – the oregano flavor turned out to be a bit overpowering for my taste, anyway, and I'm too OCD to eat a pizza whose ingredients aren't spread out evenly on each slice – and moved to the rest of Zayda Buddy’s menu, which you might classify as "enlightened cafeteria." Think of the food you associated with a day of the week in elementary school: burgers, sandwiches, grilled cheeses made with Velveeta. Green bean casserole. Now make these items with real ingredients instead of shit from number ten cans, and you've got ZB's. "Nouvelle cafeteria," maybe.

My husband tried the sloppy joe (Tuesday), a mountain of juicy, reddened beef heaped on a white sesame bun and topped with a sunny side-up egg: delicious. As kids, we must have thought grown-ups were lame for not picking up their sloppy joes, but now we understand that knife and fork must sometimes come into play because it’s hard to hold a bottle of Leinenkugel or a can of Schlitz (I’m tellin’ ya, ZB goes Midwest all the way) with slippery fingers.

But the star of the show was my tater tot casserole, a ceramic dish loaded with moist, cheesy, onion-studded ground beef, topped with peppers and tater tots, smothered with more cheese, and baked into a hearty, satisfying vat of melty goodness and served – oxymoronically, I believe - with a green salad, instead of the Pringles and pickle spear that accompany most of ZB's dishes. They might have also called it Baked America.  It will undoubtedly be the happy focus of my digestive system for the next twelve hours.

Doctor's note: I’d bet Tater Tot Casserole is a successful prescription for hangover relief. It also acts as a very effective lip balm.

If your stomach starts to growl at Reverb on Saturday, give ZB a try – our service was perfectly friendly and not nearly as slow as some say. If you're the masochistic type, you'll likely be longing to hear something you don't like after all that cool music, and ZB’s offers a nice variety in that respect, too. Nice to suck down a Mello Yello with some early Lionel Richie every once in a while.

 
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