Thursday, February 14, 2008

Don't BRGR Me

One year ago while in New York, I was inspired by Frank Bruni of Diner's Journal and visited Stand. Frank and a colleague of his visited Stand AND brgr in the same afternoon; I waited a year to complete my burger circuit visiting brgr just this past Friday. Remembering how much I really liked Stand, I was looking forward to brgr. Unfortunately, I didn't read Bruni's brgr transcript until just now; I really wish I had though, I would have gone to Blue Smoke.

I walked in to brgr around 2:30pm last Friday afternoon. The place was pretty full but there was no line to order. Brgr looked like a fancy fast food joint. You order at the counter, take a number, have a seat and your food will be delivered to your table when it's ready. I ordered a vanilla shake ($5.50), the BRGR ($7.00 - a 1/3 pound beef patty with American cheese, BRGR sauce, grilled onions and the requisite shredded lettuce, tomato and pickle,) and an order of sweet potato fries ($2.75). Then I grabbed a seat at the counter and watched the food folks at work.

My first observation was that the burgers were being cooked, fried I should say, on a flat-top griddle, one liked you would use to prepare eggs and pancakes, or like the ones they use at that McNasty chain. The next thing I noticed was that the staff assembling the burgers weren't always sure what was going on, they were more interested in jawing with each other than paying attention to the orders.

Just then, my vanilla shake arrived, in a plastic cup. I can not believe that it was actually voted best shake in NYC last year, it was so not that good. I'd pay for 10 vanilla shakes at Stand before I ever order another one at brgr; in fact I'll probably never go back to brgr anyway. The shake was not thick and not that good. Strike one.

Next came the burger, wrapped in paper, and the fries, in a small paper bag. I was disappointed that the burger bun was not grilled. I watched the staff feeding the buns through what I can only imagine is a vertical toaster of some sort, which made the buns real soft and appear to have spent some time face down on the griddle, but they didn't. The burger was cooked to my specification, medium, but it was greasy and felt like fast food in my hands and in my mouth. Strike two.

American Cheese, BRGR sauce and Grilled Onions w/ Sweet Potato Fries

I was really hoping that the sweet potato fries were going to be the saving grace here; nope, sorry. Apparently they haven't improved in the year since Bruni ate them. They were slightly crispy, under seasoned, and not tasting all that great. They had a similar consistency to the crispy fries sold at BK, the exterior crunch of the fries just didn't seem natural. Strike three. I'm outta here; I'm going to Gray's Papaya for dessert.

Next time I'm in New York, I'm going to Blue Smoke for a burger. One of the comments on Bruni's brgr recap said they had a good burger. I know their barbecue is excellent, I'm hoping the burger is too.

My bottom line is skip the line at brgr and head straight to Stand. Brgr will just disappoint you.

287 7th Ave
New York, NY 10001
Ph (212) 488-7500


  1. I'm sorry your meal didn't turn out well-- it looks so delicious!

    And thank you so much for those articles. I really enjoyed them and found them useful. Cool!

  2. Hi Ashley, you're welcome. As for the burger, you win some and you lose some, but you never know what you get unless you try for yourself, right?

  3. By the way-- that was fantastic for a Valentine's Day post!

  4. I visited brgr a few months ago and was also underwhemed. Blue Smoke has an excellent burger (better than the barbecue), with the full spectrum of doneness from the outside in. If you visit, be sure to also visit Shake Shack 2 blocks away (same ownership), which many consider the best burger in the city.

  5. Hi Ashley, thanks!

    Hi pigtrip, thanks for the suggestion. I'll be sure to check out Blue Smoke AND Shake Shack the next time I'm in NYC.