I’m kinda over burgers, but I showed up at Cin Cin Burger Bar on Monday anyway because there’s another draw: pierogies.
If you’re looking for these eastern European dumplings somewhere in the Triad, skip Old Europe Restaurant (which doesn’t serve them) and head to the new chain-like burger bar across from the Quiet Pint in Winston-Salem.
Cin Cin is the latest creation from the Michael Family Restaurant Group, which also owns Waldo’s Wings and Mama Zoe Michael’s, where you can get anything from Greek spaghetti to a burrito, but not pierogies.
Cin Cin, with its speakeasy themed décor, bright lights, semi-circle booths and a covered patio out front already seems primed for franchising. Despite being a Monday after 1 p.m., people packed Cin Cin, occupying most of the many tables and a chunk of the barstools, too. Televisions tuned to various news and sports channels ring the top of the restaurant on two sides, with dancy music playing in the background. Some of the walls sport unfinished wood, but Cin Cin feels more like Shane’s Rib Shack meets Bravo than a hipster bar.
It’s here that you can find pierogies, a European dumpling commonly associated with Poland that can be found throughout the eastern part of the continent. It’s possible that you can buy pierogies elsewhere in the Triad; the only ones I’ve found come in a pack at the grocery store, and failed to inspire much excitement when I cooked them at home.
Like dumplings, pierogies can be filled with all sorts of things, though potatoes are common. At Cin Cin, the Pittsburgh Pierogies come stuffed with a warm and soft potato and cheese combo, topped with fried onions and a sour cream sauce with chives. They’re slightly crunchy, sort of like wontons, and are deeply satisfying. The pierogies are technically a small plate, but there’s enough food that you could make it a meal or share as a starter with a couple people.
But the focus at Cin Cin is on the burgers, fancy shakes (some of them alcoholic) and craft cocktails. Just two years ago I was remarking that Winston-Salem is a hot-dog town while Greensboro is burger central, but in that time more burger-centric joints including Local 27101 and Burger Batch have opened, the latter doing it up big with fancy shakes, too.
Cin Cin trades on the speakeasy/Prohibition theme that’s also swept the country in recent years, aligning with so-called “moonshine” production in North Carolina. I get the appeal, but it’s a little overwrought. Hell, Hardee’s sells a Midnight Moonshine burger.
I was the kid who always preferred chicken nuggets to burgers on family fast-food runs, and I still do. I rarely crave burgers, which might make me a perfectly obnoxious food writer who’s out of step with the general public. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the No Money – No Honey burger with goat cheese, bacon, lettuce and sweet pepper jelly. It’s similar to the burger I order at Hops in Greensboro, but there my fingers always end up a sticky mess. I made it out clean at Cin Cin, due partly to a thick bun that soaked up some of the juiciness of the burger and contained its sticky toppings.
Burgers take up too much of the local restaurant real estate, and they’re often uninspired and shoddily executed. Not so here at all, where my medium burger actually arrived as requested — this should be a given, yes, but it’s certainly not in my experience. I appreciated the variety of side options too, ordering the Asian noodles, a soba-style cold dish with mandarin oranges, peapods, shredded carrots, a little pepper and some kick in the aftertaste. It proved to be a nice counterpoint to my hot and sweet-topped burger.
In short — I’m not a burger guy, but I still recommend what Cin Cin’s cooking. Accompanied with a shake, it’d be enough to make me keel over, so if you’re eying the fancy drink, split it with someone or order the pierogies for lunch instead.
Visit Cin Cin Burger Bar at 1425 W. First St. (W-S) or at cincinburgerbar.com.