Although Steve Hanson's newest baby, Bill's Bar & Burger, officially opened last Friday, the initial word generated mostly from a media sneak peak and friends and family nights last week isn't just good, it's practically rhapsodic. Many of the first reports, including those from the big-dog burger critics, suggest that the Bill's Classic burger might even rival that titan of New York meaty satisfaction, the Shack Burger. Given the similarity in style and price, the Shack comparisons shouldn't surprise anyone, but time will tell whether it will the enjoy the same popularity. Onto the analysis:
The Great News: This Eater commenter got a taste of Bill's burgers at a friends and family night, loved the food, and thinks that once a few kinks are ironed out, it could be a classic: "had the food last night as per friend and family night and let me say the food was phenomenal. I was so full and relaxed i did not think i would have space for the equally great brownie. I ate a bill's classic with American cheese and bacon. The bacon was very well tender crisped cooked and the burger was very tender and juicy. This restaurant is the real deal. I believe after the few touch ups with the construction, this bar and burger would be among the other great restaurants NYC has to offer." [Comments]
The Brilliant News: The Dash Feedbag's Josh Ozersky thinks that Bill's has mastered the science and technology of creating the perfect hamburger: "The Bill’s burger, at least the one I tasted, is the next step in the evolution of mainstream hamburgers. It takes the aggressive “smashing” technique from Steak n Shake and Smashburger, and applies it even more aggressively, and using LaFrieda beef — a rich blend I couldn’t exactly put my finger in, but lush and sweet in a way that suggested lots of brisket...The thing is just fantastic, and there is not one weird topping or middlebrow trope anywhere to be seen." [TDF]
The Almost Earth-Shattering News: After a preview tasting, Adam Kuban is impressed enough by Bill's to suggest that it might be a challenger to the Shake Shack's crown: "Of course, mileage may vary once the place has to deal with the strain of burger-hungry Meatpacking magpies, but based on yesterday's round of burgers, the place is killer. Dare I say it ... dare I? If the burger quality holds up at Bill's Bar and Burger, then the Shake Shack, long my gold standard for this type of burger, will have a serious—and I mean SERIOUS—rival for my top-of-the-pops favorite burger in NYC. Like neck-and-neck."
The Okay News: While this A Hamburger Today commenter likes the food, he does note some service hiccups: "I would say the burger is as good as shake shack in terms of beefiness and juicyness. (I should note that I am a fan of a thicker patty, so the shack is not generally in my top 5 anyway.) But, in general, if you put both of them in front of me i'd prolly grab the shack burger first...The service was off for us, because I think maybe our order did not go in correctly (three tables seated after and ordered after us were served drinks and food before us). However, I will say that I think once they realized this they made efforts. The manager paid us a visit, our server kept us updated. New place, not real fancy, just a hiccup I am sure and they recovered okay." [AHT Comments]
The Amazing News: George "Hamburger America" Motz is thrilled by the accuracy too which Bill's recreates his favorite regional burger style: "It's the primary source burger we crave which can usually only be found in the Midwest. It's a burger that looks and tastes similar to Steak 'N Shake but one that is made with top-notch Pat LaFrieda ground beef. I'm not sure this burger has an equal in NYC." [HA]
The Completely Amazing News: This A Hamburger Today commenter took the Shake Shack comparison one step farther by actually hitting up both spots for a side by side analysis: "Tried it last night around 8:30 or so (Bill's Classic with Cheese)...outstanding: juicy, flavorful, thin, a little crisp on the outside. Tried some bites with the lettuce, tomato, and pickles and some without (the pickles did overpower much of the other flavors when you got a big bite of them) Split a side of the vegetable fries which I actually enjoyed more than french fries. Extremely nice staff, kept on checking on us throughout the night, and the entire staff too which was really something. Moseyed on over to Shake Shack today for comparison (Plain cheeseburger) and while it was very good, I would take Bill's cheeseburger over the Shack's anyday. Hindsight 20/20 probably should've gotten it with lettuce/tomato/pickles...well guess that's just an excuse to do another comparison of heavyweights of deliciousness next weekend." [AHT Comments]
· All Bill's Bar & Burger Coverage on Eater [~ENY~]