Brief BRGR review
I thought I'd drop in with a quick review of Brgr (7th Ave just north of 26th).
After an aborted visit for lunch on their opening day, 12/12 (the computers were down) I had dinner there on 12/13 after they'd been open a day. Here's my thoughts:
-- Very, very tasty burgers. Akin to Schnack or Burger Joint in quality. The menu says unless otherwise requested, they come out "medium-well done" (which I assume is the same as "medium-well". I didn't specify anything (nor was I asked) and it came out just lovely - a nice hint of pink in the middle without being too underdone or overdone for my tastes.
-- Even without any fancy toppings, they're a little overpriced for the size. I think the base burger is $6.50. That's not too much for a burger if it were huge, but these are a little smallish for the price (though a nice change from a massive burger that's too huge to finish).
-- Fries. Excellent, just excellent. A nice dark crisp to them and super salty which was fine for me, though maybe a bit too salty for some.
-- Sweet potato fries -- they didn't have them that night.
-- "Onion hay". Skip it. Dry, crumbly, hard to eat. Pointless.
-- "Homemade chocolate chip cookies". Worthless. $3.30 for 3 small cookies akin to Otis Spunkmeyer or Keebler Soft Batch cookies. Good cookies aren't hard -- they really dropped the ball here.
-- Shakes. Looked good and not too big. Maybe 16 ounces. Combined with a burger and fires it would make a filling meal.
-- They have a lot of "combos" of toppings that save you $$ from choosing toppings a la carte. And they allow substitutions in those toppings -- I was able to change out the cheese in one of them.
-- They allegedly have both white and whole grain buns but we were never asked which we preferred.
-- Very friendly, happy service.
-- An unexpectedly long wait for the food. Not painful but longer than I would have expected. The result though was very hot, fresh food. :)
-- Lovely, casual space -- they spent a lot of money on the look here. I won't go on about it other than to say you're probably paying 50 cents on every burger for the design of the room.
-- Good music. Someone was having an 80's flashback with the iPod. ;)
That's it (ok, that wasn't so brief). Bottom line, very good food, a bit over-priced (burger, fires, shake comes out to a hair more than one would expect to spend on a burger, fries and a shake.
Just tried the Upper East Side BRGR location and was VERY disappointed. I'm a grass-fed beef person, so it wasn't that. The burger was both dry and greasy (dry inside, greasy outside) and without much flavor. There were two large pieces of bone or cartilage. The pickles tasted very very old and off. I sat at the counter and watched the assembly line. People were pleasant but poorly organized. The service was slow. All that and pricey too. Not sure I'll go there again.
I agree with the general feeling of too pricey and iffy service (we just missed the huge out the door line and were fine). However, paying a few extra dollars to eat in a nice place, as opposed to, say, Wendy's, is worth it. I would return when in the area if the line was reasonable.
Here's a funny anecdote from a co-worker (we're a block form Brgr.)
After talking the place up as somewhere that at least had be tried once, two guys from the office went.
The line, as it's been at lunch for the last few weeks, was quite long.
They waited 10 minutes, each got to a register, and ordered.
After 15 minutes, one of them got his food.
After waiting another *20* minutes the other person's food never came.
He went and found someone who seemed to be in charge and politely said he didn't get his food after 35 minutes -- could someone look into it?
The manager sighed, put his hand on my co-worker's shoulder, and said in a condescending tone (I kid you not) "Let me explain this to you in a way you'll understand."... and then said because they ordered at different registers the orders were likely to come up at different times.
Too funny! First, as if one order taking 15 minutes and another taking over 35 minutes is perfectly normal and acceptable Second, the tone of voice taken. Third, blaming it on the use of two different registers despite the orders being placed 15 seconds apart. Fourth, saying ANYthing other than "I'm SO sorry -- what was your order -- I'll get it immediately." Don't these people know anything about hospitality?
To add final insult to injury, the burger that was specifically ordered as "medium" showed up beyond well done. :(
The room is indeed lovely, but until they drop the prices a bit and find a way to get the food out faster, I think they're gonna have thrown the $1MM investment down the toilet.
P.S. The irony is that was explained in "a way that he'd understand" to a guy who grew up in a greek diner family -- he'd been working in the family business since he was 10 years old so he certainly knows how these things work. ;)
That's pretty damn sad. But it seems to be the norm, when a place is doing well and popular, that there's no need for hospitality and good service.
I've been lucky, both instances I've gone to brgr at off-hours, and pretty late in the evening. So my wait times have been not existant, except for waitng for my burger to cook. As for the decour being the leading factor of why the prices are so high...they are taking a big chance with doing this. NYC is a fickle town, despite having many having a nice disposable income. When it comes to something like a hamburger, its either good, or bad, and this easily also gets impacted by the price. There are so many other great burger joints in the city, offering up a better burger, at a more decent price. And at the rate things are going, I have no doubt there will be a few more to pop up before this burger braze begins to fade away. Like I said, I've had a good experience both times I visited. Think the burgers are pricey for what you get...but they are still good. Think the seasoning they use is nice..but it really does have a lingering aftertaste. Will I go again...sure...if Im in the area. And as long as I dont have to wait in a long line.
I've been twice...most recently tonight. I have to agree, they have some tasty burgers with good toppings. Yes, they are thin...but thats the way I like my burgers. Perfect candidate for a double if it wasnt for the price points. Ouch. Think this is what hurts them the most. I know I can go to the Burger Joint and have a tastier burger with fries and coke for the starting price of some of the BRGR burgers. Damn shame really, because both times, the experience has been good. Friendly and prompt service and think the grill is coming into its own.
No doubt I will go again, but why cant these new places be more realistic about the price of their burgers.
"No doubt I will go again, but why cant these new places be more realistic about the price of their burgers."
From the NY Times on 12/13/07:
"David Rockwell has designed colorful details like cushy leather circles as seat backs, within a bare-bones brick and exposed-beam shell that nevertheless cost a million dollars."
Gotta recoup that investment somehow.
Brgr has great toppings on a dry patty. It's just too thin to stay juice on open flame grilling.
Burger tastes good, but it's not a destination.
The ambiance, however is A+. Lot's of exposed brick, a two floor ceiling, and great old beams. (You can still see to old abandoned fireplaces built into the walls.)
It's seat-yourself, but they bring your order over to you, which is terrific.
Sounds like Brgr is definitely worth a try, albeit the price tag. I was disappointed at BLT Burger recently - haven't opened for long, but they've got a lot of kinks to work out.
Have you heard of Stand? Another new burger place that would be neat to check out. Apparently they're a very "rare well done burger place." Ha.