In 2009, Josh Capon of Lure Fishbar won that year's New York City Burger Bash. A few weeks ago, he opened Burger & Barrel, a casual American pub that would indeed serve the winning burger as well as classics like fried chicken, ribeye steak which can all be washed down by wine and beer, both on tap. After you've won a competition for having the best burger, there's a lot of expectations for when you open up a de facto burger joint. Have those expectations been met? To the early word:
The Really Good News: The Glenwood Management blogger had high expectations and isn't disappointed, doling out high praise for just about everything. "We stuck with the basics on visit number one, and were pretty blown away by how good these burgers are. The Bash burger, for example, lived up to its billing as 2009's "Best Burger" winner at the New York Wine and Food Festival: the meat impossibly tender and juicy AND with plenty of beefy taste to stand up to the carmelized onion, bacon jam, pickles, and gooey cheese, all between a bun with enough bite to hold its own. All future "best burger in New York City" discussions will have to include this Burger & Barrel beauty." And it's not just the burger they liked. "The fries are first-rate too, salty and crisp with loads of potato flavor. The veggie of the day was Brussels Sprouts with thick chunks of bacon, so of course we had to order that, and were amply rewarded with fresh, perfectly cooked bites with a generous scattering of fatty, smoky, sweet pieces of pig. Totally satisfying." [Glenwood Management]
The Juicy News: Zagat Buzz visits and has the classic burger and while they don't comment much on the beef itself, they do note that the bun is "not too bready, but large enough that the juice from the dish doesn’t drip all over your hands." They comment on the space and the general ambiance. "You’ll eat your burger in a sexy space that evokes some sort of 1970s men’s club with all the wood paneling and low lighting (the only thing missing are some cigars). Burger & Barrel is clearly as much about the scene as it is about the beef – the classic Milli Vanilli tunes piped in over the radio can only add to your dining experience." [Zagat Buzz]
The "Decent First Date Spot" News: Chowhounder selenster responds to a thread on places to meet for drinks and thinks this might be a good choice. "i recently went to burger & barrel and i think that might be a decent spot to try for a first date - it's relaxed, dimly light and has a great, comfort americana cuisine menu. fantastic selection of drinks too." [CH]
The Disappointing News: Yelper ticquer m., a big fan of Lure, was let down by her takeout order. "When we placed the order the staff were very nice however we very clearly indicated we wanted a Classic burger (on the menu this includes tomato, cheese, lettuce, onions, etc). We also asked for it Medium. When we got home and opened the order all we had was a charred pattie in front of us with absolutely none of the lettuce, tomato, onions, etc trimmings. If I wanted to pay $13 for an overcooked pattie with nothing else then i could have visited many other establishments. How disappointing!" [Yelp]
The "Really Freaking Good" News: Yelper grace c., on the hand, had a much better experience, complete with an appearance by Capon. "His [Capon] explanations of the food are the best yet: the veggie burger? "just really freaking good." He was totally right." She offers tips on the wine. "The wine on tap (brewed in Red Hook) was perfect. Not too acidic, not heavy--pair the cabernet with the off-the-menu white truffle burger." And then there's the pairing of the burger and the fries. "We ordered a mix of the sweet potato and regular fries as our side dish. A perfect blend to complement the richness of the truffles. Take small bites! You'll want this to last." All in all, a great experience if her sign-off is any indication. "To Burger and Barrel!" [Yelp]
The Twitterific News: Restaurateur @WilliamTigertt offers a brother some props. "Burger & Barrel, solid burger spot." @NPixie doesn't even wait for her burger before offering up the praise. "The cucumber gin mash is divine, the chicken lollipops are obscene." The praise from @DAVIDDANESH is simple enough. "Truffle burger... Yum" @NessieNes also has nothing but kind words for the truffle burger. "White Truffle Burger at Burger & Barrel.... I want u to last forever baby, don't leave me, pls stay GAWD Damn!" @seanhdoyle tweets "Burger & Barrel on Houston and Mercer is my new favorite joint." Finally, @_candie compliments them while taking a dig at a certain west coast burger joint. "Burger & Barrel. Like In and Out, but with class!"