Zynda’s offers a new take on the olive burger


Williamson is always quaint, but it is especially so on a cold winter night with picture-perfect snowflakes falling gently past the old-timey street lights. The large front windows of Zynda’s, a barbecue restaurant that was formerly Red Cedar Grill, provided the perfect vantage point to take in this scene and eat dinner with friends before a preview performance of “Wild Horses” at the Williamston Theatre. 

When going somewhere new, I always tell myself that I’ll forgo the Google search and wait to look at the menu until I’m at the restaurant, as I think there’s something sort of exciting and romantic about discovering and deliberating on the spot. I usually cave, though, and this time was no exception. However, as my companions perused their menus, I gave mine another once-over and discovered an option that previously eluded me: the olive burger. 

As many know, olive burgers mean something special to the citizens of Michigan, so readers might want to brace themselves as I describe the nature of this iconoclastic iteration. 

In place of green olives and mayonnaise, this burger includes feta, kalamata olives and beets, topped off with pickled red onions. The sauce also contains some diced tomato, lavished upon a beef patty perfectly cooked to medium. The poppy seed bun holding it all together was notably good and, frankly, very photogenic. Could I bring myself to call it an olive burger? No, it just feels wrong. Was it delicious? Absolutely. The brininess of the feta, olives and red onions made for a tongue-tingling, powerfully flavorful bite, balanced out by the juicy, well-seasoned beef. 

The tasty and lightly dressed kale slaw provided a nice counterpoint to the richness of the burger, as did the perfectly roasted Brussels sprouts that I got instead of fries. I only made this substitution because we got the Cajun fries as an appetizer, so I am qualified to speak to their tastiness. Crispy and liberally dusted with a spice blend composed of the usual “Cajun” elements, there was also thyme on these, which was unexpected but welcome, as was the accompanying garlic aioli dipping sauce. 

The discovery of an olive burger I didn’t know I needed was a welcome moment of novelty at a time of year when sameness can become suffocating. I must also urge you to check out “Wild Horses” if you enjoy theater, as it was similarly spirit-bolstering. 


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