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Grille Zone - Interesting New Joint for Burger Connoisseurs

  • k

Hello all. I don't post here often so forgive me if I make a faux pas here...

I looove a good burger so I was excited to see a place that appeared to specialize in burgers opening up right near me. It's called Grille Zone and it's at 1022 Comm Ave (couple doors down from T Anthony's). I'm not sure if that's technically Boston or Brookline.

The burger was great. Really big and juicy and... um... as the name would imply... had that nice grilled taste. It was a bit saltier that I would have liked but still very good. My current favorite places to get burgers are U-Burger, Sunset Bar & Grill and S&S Deli to give an idea of what I consider a good burger. And this burger was definitely on par. The french fries were also really nice. They tasted like they were fresh cut.

It's a really casual place but it's stylish inside. You order your food at the counter and seat yourself, etc. I went on the first or second day that they were open and we had been waiting a little bit for our food when the owner came up to us and said we'd been waiting for 14 minutes (who knew?) and their policy is to get your food to you within 10 min. So he offered us a free meal. We declined the free meal offer saying we totally understand it's probably hard open a new business and work out the kinks right away.

They also have some really good looking items on the menu besides burgers like grilled hot dogs (made in Mattapan), BLTs and grilled cheese. Apparantly nothing except for the ice cream they serve (Herrells!) is ever frozen. It's all fresh ingredients.

BUT... that's not all... A very interesting aspect of the restaurant had yet to reveal itself. As we spoke with the owner the first time we went he explained that it's a very eco-friendly restaurant in the following ways:

1. As much of the ingredients as possible are obtained from local food suppliers

2. It's a zero-waste operation and in fact they don't even have a dumpster. The "paper plates" and "plastic cups" etc are actually some sort of special material that's compostable. And anything else they have (like glass soda bottles) is recyclable.

3. The fabric on the booths, decorations on ceiling and walls, etc are all recycled materials.

(I know chowhound is about food and not eco-friendly practives but I thought it was really cool to see a place that appears to have really good food AND tries to "walk the walk" in the environmental sense.)

They also have wings. I went back tonight and tried them and they were good but nowhere near enough buffalo sauce. That was strange since earlier that day they were handing out samples which had plenty of sauce and were really awesome. I think the cook on duty tonight was just inexperienced. I have hope that next time I go there they will be better and I won't have to trek to Buff's for good wings anymore. :)

Here's their website if you want read their mission, see their menu, etc etc.

Hope this review is helpful!

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  1. I've been meaning to check that place out since it opened a few days ago... thanks for the nice review... but you didn't answer the most important question...


    We need to know.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Luther

      Hmm.... Rare burger? Didn't ask them. Sorry! :)

      1. re: Luther

        For the record, I had a perfectly fine correctly cooked medium-rare burger at the Halibut Point Restaurant in Gloucester over the weekend. I wonder if rare / medium-rare is more likely to be found in the 'burbs rather than overly litigious/health conscious Boston area places?

        Does this place also cook with organic beef?

        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          That's a very good question, BD. Considering all the "green attitude" stuff on their site you'd think it would be so but all it say is "fresh ground". I wonder about the dogs as well.

      2. Thanks for the review. I just drove by the place a couple days ago and had meant to troll CH for some comments. Sounsd fairly promising.

        1. Checked this place out last night - my fiance and I just moved to the area so we had high hopes for a neighborhood burger joint, and on the whole we weren't disappointed. Hours weren't posted anywhere and there seemed to be a lot of clean up going on when we arrived (a bit before 8); the manager later explained that they had a flexible closing time for the summer since they were still in shakedown mode and most of the BU population wasn't around. When they start operating full-swing they plan on a midnight closing time.

          We both had burgers, one medium and one medium-rare. They both had some pink in the middle but there wasn't a huge color difference. Very juicy though, and the bun was a good consistency for soaking it all up without disintegrating. Taste was good with a subtle spice mix that kind of got lost under any condiments. I also had bacon on mine, which had a good smoky flavor. Lettuce was whole leaf and not shredded. One small complaint is that they only have Heinz yellow mustard and nothing with any real flavor or kick to it...

          Fries were tasty and salty but seemed a little underdone as they weren't very crispy. I'm chalking that up to the staff still being broken in so we'll see if that changes.

          Cool ambience with blues music and exposed brickwork; I also dig the "green" operating principles. Will definitley be back - the prices can't be quibbled with (2 burgers, fries and 2 drinks for about $20) and I need to check out that hot dog.

          4 Replies
          1. re: moglia

            Another nice report, and you may not have seen Bob Doblina's question before you went, do they offer organic as well as "green"?

            1. re: Harp00n

              Given how upfront they are with offering information (there are hand-written signs all over the place with info about eco-friendly practices and the like) and that there's no mention of organic sourcing, my gut feeling is that they're not.

              1. re: moglia

                The 'green' and 'organic' monikers are a slippery topic for any business, especially in the foodie biz. I know some folks at product development over at Kayem who work with the al fresco all natural line of chicken. The team has tried to find a way to make the product organic, but it's a logistical nightmare in terms of finding certified suppliers, as well as the associated expense. My sense is that Moglia's right. If they were selling organic, they would announce it.

                1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                  i applaud their efforts to be a more eco-friendly establishment--and the food isn't half bad, either. i believe moglia and bob are correct. they make no claims to the ingredients being organic--only that they use fresh ingredients.

                  with regards to the beef, they state that they use "certified hereford beef" (not sure what hereford beef is all about). my s.o. ordered the burger medium-rare but it was cooked medium. it was still juicy and will fit the bill anytime the burger craving hits.

                  overall, i enjoyed the chicken breast sandwich. the chicken had a nice marinade. the first time, i found the roll it was served on had a nice taste and texture. the second time, it tasted and felt like cardboard. (my guess is that the second time, there wasn't as much juice from the chicken for the roll to absorb.) but i'd go there again.

          2. Allstonian and I ate there for the first time tonight: mixed, but promising.

            First off, the burgerspooge contingent will be satisfied, which is nice for the rest of us because perhaps they'll stop complaining about Uburger and Flat Patties: they cook the burger to specification, and in fact my medium burger was considerably rarer than I'd like it. The main drawback is that the meat is way too heavily seasoned (maybe I'm imagining, but I think I detected some celery seed, for example), and as a result didn't particularly taste like a hamburger. However, the cheese and toppings (American, lettuce, pickles, onion, tomatoes, mustard) were perfectly acceptable. I wasn't crazy about the bun, which was a bit too large for the burger and not sufficiently hamburger bun-like for my tastes.

            The large fries was more than enough for Allstonian and I to share, and we loves us some fries. The condiment buckets include malt vinegar, a nice touch for those of us who like it on our fries. The fries themselves were skin-on, fairly thick, more soft than crunchy and well-seasoned verging on slightly too salty. Similarly, the real-ice-cream chocolate frappe was verging on slightly too much chocolate.

            But overall, these are better faults to have than the faults of a place like Bartley's.. Based on a single visit, my gut feeling is that I tend to prefer Uburger overall (if only because their meat tastes more like meat than proprietary spice blend) and that Flat Patties still comes closest to ideal burgerdom for this transplanted Texan with very strong ideas about what constitutes a proper burger. But particularly given that Grille Zone is about a ten-minute walk from my house, it's a more than welcome addition to the scene, and some tweaks (a lighter hand with the salt shaker, better buns) could move them higher still.

            Ambience: basically just looks like the Turkish places that were the last two tenants with some more colorful artwork and more bench seating. Based on the solos, I believe it was Benny Carter and Milt Jackson on the stereo tonight.

            10 Replies
            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

              Pardon my ignorance, but please define "the burgerspooge contingent".

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Those folks who claim it isn't truly a burger unless you have to change your shirt afterward. There have been some CH posts that verge on obscenity on the subject of burger juiciness.

                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                  Flat Patties actually seems to acknowledge this desire, though they cheat a little bit, and somehow work enough special sauce and grease and whatnot into the medium-well burgers that you get a messy plate anyway. I quite like their burger as far as overcooked burgers go.

              2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                Dang. I was worried about that "spice blend" thing. Maybe they'll take some hints and get rid of it.

                1. re: Luther

                  The reason I'm not into The Druid's burgers, pure meat for me please. Well, salt and pepper is fine, but no green things, no crumbs, nothing to make me think of meat loaf.

                  1. re: Luther

                    Allstonian and I made another visit last night and I actually spoke to the manager (the heavyset guy who often works the grill), who said that they had heard the complaints about the spices and dialed way way back on them. The burger I had tonight was pretty much perfect in both spice and medium-rareness. Also, I strongly, strongly recommend the coffee frappe. Exceedingly tasty, and not too overpowering like the chocolate. The woman working the counter admitted that she thought the chocolate frappe was a bit much too.

                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                      Absolutely. The people behind the grill are very nice and interested in feedback. The frappes and anything they make as a "special" are way too good. The burgers are genuinely juicy, not greasy juicy. I wish we had places like this years ago, but the closest in the area may have been The Tam and that was more of a time investment.

                  2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                    Seriously, "too much chocolate"?????

                    How is THAT possible?

                    1. re: othervoice

                      Lol othervoice,
                      That does seem to be a bit of an oxymoron. Unless of course, like me, you'd prefer "too much" coffee!


                      1. re: othervoice

                        Order one and find out. I wouldn't have thought it possible myself, but that frappe was definitely pushing the chocolate wall.

                    2. Just wanted to update and say that I went back again for the 3rd time last night. Lord help me -- it's literally a 120 second walk for me. ;)

                      This time I had the hot dog and my husband had the BLT. Both were excellent.

                      As I am picky with burgers, I'm also very picky about hotdogs. (What I wouldn't give to have Chicago Frank's back in Harvard Sq!) The hotdog was great. Not huge like at Spike but still a little bigger than normal. They cut slice marks into it and grill it so it's nice and charred here and there. It's served on a well-proportioned bun (not too bready like Spike's) and with mustard and onions (unless you choose other toppings). It seemed like maybe it was a natural casing hotdog but the casing wasn't too tough.

                      I tried a bite of my husbands BLT and it was really great too. They use huge slices of good chewy white bread which they butter and grill first. I mean, really, if you're going to have a bacon sandwich -- why not smear the bread with butter while you're at it?!

                      From reading everyone else's responses here, it sounds like they have some consistency issues to work out. But overall I'm psyched about this place. It's nice to have this option amongst some other pretty boring/adequate joints in this area.

                      1. We just tried this place. The burger was juicy and very good--I didn't find the spices overwhelming. Not crazy about the bun, and the fries were not as good as UBurger's (but what is?). I was also excited to see lime rickeys, but mine was too sweet and not fizzy (so, basically, limeade). The person who made it came over and asked me how it was and I said a little sweet, so she offered to put another lime in. They do seem to Care. But I wish I could get their burgers, UBurger's fries, and Bartley's lime rickeys in the same place!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                          If you told me they have great raspberry lime rickeys, I'm so there now!

                          1. re: Harp00n

                            Their menu doesn't mention raspberry, which is actually why I was excited--most places seem to have forgotten what a "lime rickey" is and think it's a super-sweet raspberry soda with a slice of lime on the rim.

                            You could ask, but don't get excited. I think a non-fizzy raspberry lime rickey would be even more disappointing than a non-fizzy regular lime rickey.

                            1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                              No, no, not sweet at all for me. A "real" old fashion raspberry lime rickey, in addition to the raspberry taste (duh), has a certain astringency that plays off the overall slight sweetness and good carbonation. A well made 'old school" lime rickey is a beautifully refreshing summer drink but the addition of raspberry makes it sublime.


                              1. re: Harp00n

                                Just led a small group of co workers up there for lunch and had the lime rickey. It was more like a tart lemonade although I saw the counter person squeezing fresh limes into it. My friend had a frappe and she loved it. They use Herrill's ice cream. We both had hotdogs and they were grilled old fashioned casing dogs (as reported by kdl) that we think are from Simco's in Mattapan. Will be back for those. It turns out there are 4 choices for grilled cheese, american, cheddar, swiss and blue. Another friend had asked for grilled cheese with tomato and bacon and because the bread was not as large as usual they gave her 2 sandwiches instead of one and said she could share. She didn't share. we were impressed with the friendly service but for take-out we will call next time. we had a good 10 minute wait and we were the only customers waiting.

                                1. re: ginnyhw

                                  Thanks for the excellent post, ginnyhw. It does seem like an on going theme is developing; nice people, social conscience, eager to please and well chosen ingredients. What not to like about that. Lets hope they continue to develop and get some community support..

                        2. Just went last night... We really enjoyed the burgers and fries! They were huge, juicy and perfect. I love that they are cooked to order and the restaurant is GREEN!!! I do have a couple complaints: the bun is HUGE (but won't keep me from going back) and the grill cook was using the computer with her gloves on then immediately touching food (GROSS). Also, a couple came in with their children who were out of control, running thru the restaurant, jumping up and down on the seats, screaming, crying... that sucked. This is not mcdonald's. Dammit.

                          1. Tried it out this weekend. Greay burget,,,medium rare, the way I ordered it. Nice and juicy. Fries weren't impressive. Not crispy..kinda soggy. If you get it to go, ask for the condiment containers outside the food container. The heat from the food melts them. Better burgers than Uburger(it might just be because Uburger won't cook a rarer burger) but Uburger has it for the fries hands down.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: catsmeow

                              That seems to be the conensus. What a shame that we can't get the great burgers with the great fries! Still, though, the former is themore important part of the meal, so I'm leaning towards Grille Zone for future burger cravings in the BU area.

                            2. I first tried out the Grille Zone several weeks ago when I was at the Paradise Lounge for show and was also looking forward to a Paradise burger (which is actually very good and kind of a secret). But the Paradise kitchen was closed (and was still as of a few days ago), so I went roaming and tried the Grille Zone for one with blue cheese and bacon. It was good, but there was stuff on it I didn't want (ketchup, veggies...). A few weeks later, because the Paradise kitchen was still closed, I tried it again, this time speccing out that I wanted a medium burger, blue cheese, bacon, and nothing else. Home run -- that was the best burger I had in several months at least. Was back last week for a third, specced out the same thing, and again got a very, very satisfying burger. I also got their micro brew cola to go with it -- not bad. I'm now very curious about their other stuff. Although I'm usually only in that area for Paradise shows, I think it's well worth going out of your way if you get a burger craving. It's better than RF O'Sullivans or Bartley's, and even edges out my normal faves: the Paradise burger, the Common Ground sliders, and a blue cheese/bacon burger at Charlie's Kitchen.