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Feb 5, 2009 06:29 AM

8 oz Burger Bar lands on South Beach

Heard there'd be a soft opening on Wednesday so where the heck else was I gonna go for dinner?!

When I heard Govind Armstrong was opening a burger place in South Beach I was a bit surprised - South Beach being the place where girls take a wiff of a burger and pronounce themselves stuffed and guys would rather load up on Patron than a burger and fries. But to heck with them, if Mr. Armstrong was going to open a burger place it's probably gonna be damn good and it is.

The menu is abbreviated until the place gets its bearings. Service is commensurate with a newly opened place and is still getting its sea legs. But you can tell that the place that once was Novecento (and before that Biga and who knows what else) will become a neighborhood hangout and a place that only tourists specifically looking for it will find it. Obviously the menu revolves around burgers. 8 oz, 6 oz, beef, lamb, turkey... You order a readymade burger (the Melrose being similar to the famous Father's Office burger but not as over the top) or make your own. We ordered one 8 oz and one Melrose (6 oz) and fries. We ordered fried chorizo-stuffed olives to start and at $6 for 5 olives, although tasty, it's a bit much. The 8oz burger came out med-rare as requested but the 6 oz was at medium. What we noticed was that the meat itself lacked flavor and since most of the add-ons were lumped in the middle of the burger (including the cheese, which was a little square in the middle of the large patty) it took a couple of bites to get the full effect. But when you got there the effect was very, very good. Fries were good but would’ve wanted to try the truffled potato skins (which they had run out of according to our waiter but which miraculously appeared to other tables towards the end of our meal. Definitely a service issue that I’m confident will be worked out.). There weren’t beers on tap (hopefully they’ll have soon) but they had some craft beers like Rogue.

I can’t wait till the full-fledged menu is implemented. Fried Wisconsin cheese curds, Humboldt Fog cheese as a burger topping, Bacon Bloody Mary... I hear my arteries clogging just writing about it.

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  1. Are they curing the beef in a Himalayan salt locker like they do in L.A.? If not, maybe that explains the lack of flavor to the burger (though Kingdom's seem to be plenty tasty despite the complete absence of Himalayan salt tiles). The L.A. menu looks great, hope we eventually get the full monty.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor

      We will be bringing the Himalayan salt on line this week and in our first few days of sort-opening we have been working out various product issues, as much of the protein we use in LA simply isn't available in Miami....We expect to be perfectly in sync with our LA location in a matter of days.

      1. re: jwoodward72

        I was sort of jesting about the Himalayan salt, I'm sure it's more about the beef than the salt tiles - though I'd love to try a blind taste test to compare. I hope some heed is paid to grass-fed beef too.

    2. I tried 8oz. out the other night. The place is obviously still working out the kinks and haven't closely released the full menu yet. The burger was okay. I think Clarke's has a better burger by far though. When things get settled in I will give it another shot and see if they have Clarke's beat.

      5 Replies
      1. re: miamimike

        I agree with the Clarke's comparision, especially since that is its closest natural competition. The burger seemed underseasoned and the toppings not evenly distributed (similar to Lax's review). I do want to try the burger topped with fried mozzarella, but decided to give my heart a rest last night. The onion rings were not greasy, were crisp, good flavor, though I prefer a thicker onion ring, but they were good. We also had the potato skins, which were just ok. Did love the Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale and the 90 Minute Dogfish IPA that they had available. However, the staff was trying and did a pretty good job and the burger was grilled perfectly. Definitely will go back in a couple of weeks.

        1. re: mikek

          The place is amazing. Kicks Clark's burger out of the water. Even kicks Prime 112's kobe hot dog out of the water, and they don't even have hot dogs., FINALLY a place i do not need to spend $50 per person (or God forbid $130) for a really amaznig, memorable night and delicious food. Why was it so hard for someone to come up with this concept? Why have we waited so long? I'll be there every night. i love the organic wine and the burgers.... there was nothing wrong with this place, it's alllllll good... i still can't believe it's right next to me. Way better than i expected. Still not really established, either. Still an undergroudn place, whichis awesome.

          1. re: I Love Food

            Well that's a positive. Will be down there saturday or sunday. Thanks.

            1. re: I Love Food

              Glad you enjoyed it, but a small grain of (Himalayan pink) salt here -

              - "gourmet burger" is not exactly a revolutionary concept. Indeed it's already been done locally (Oneburger, 21 Toppings ...) although perhaps not as successfully.

              - I'd hardly say that a new place from a nationally recognized celeb chef that's been covered in pretty much every media outlet qualifies as "undergound," but that has nothing to do with whether or not the food is good anyway.

              Any word on whether they're doing the full menu yet?

              1. re: I Love Food

                The toppings are better, however, they need to work on the seasoning of the meat itself. The bun was great and it was cooked perfectly.

          2. Went on Sunday. Had the lamb burger which was very good. Milkshake machine is running but they only had 1 tin so shakes had to be made one at a time so it took a minute to get them all for our table of 5. Shakes were good, but whoever is doing the malt is using a heavy hand with the malt powder. Shake was almost grainy. Service has notably improved and the place was pretty full for a Sunday night. No idea about organic wine or beer because there's no wine or beer list. Still working out kinks but confident it'll be good when it hits its stride.

            One anal complaint, the dishrags for napkins gotta go. Literally they're small kitchen towels you have to wipe up counters. Even when they're barely used they look old and ragged and really not good.

            3 Replies
            1. re: lax2mia


              On our first visit to 8Oz, a big red headed guy was trying to explain the VERY complicated check system to a new hire. Each burger has a series of check boxes the waiter has to tick off to specify your meat, topping, veg, and sauce. It looks slightly more complex than the Periodic Table of Elements. There are pre-set burgers on the menu (I like the "Melrose") or you can order a naked patty and decorate it to your heart's content a la carte. On our second visit, our waitress pulled out a blank pad to take our order and I asked her if the complicated check system was gone. She laughed and said they are supposed to use it but she found it too confusing...

              This is the "deal breaker" problem with the Burger Bar Concept:

              We struggled with the burgers themselves because the menu offers beef, lamb, turkey, pork and veggie options but once the burgers arrive, it's difficult to tell WHAT they are. On our first visit, AB (who does not eat beef) asked for a lamb burger and they served him beef. On our second visit we both ordered lamb burgers and the food runner came to the table and placed our burgers in front of us and said, "2 turkey burgers" and walked away. I flagged him down and told him we ordered lamb and I swear he sort of walked back into the kitchen, paused and returned and said, "oh yeah, they are lamb." They were turkey.

              I know that vegetarians would be entirely freaked out to realize they were eating the wrong burger but if a restaurant offers a variety of patties, they should CAREFULLY honor your order. When we got our check on both visits, the protein charged on the check was not what we ordered (both times it said beef). I eat anything and was not entirely fazed, but AB is officially turned off.

              I have a MAJOR concern with sending food back to the kitchen. I've seen too many "yuk yuk" movies (where the entire staff VIOLATES returned food) to do so in good conscience. I am not SAYING that it happens - it is my own irrational fear...

              Final analysis: The food tastes good, the service is friendly, but there are valid reasons some folks might prefer to know exactly what's on the bun. BTW - we liked the onion rings, the truffled potato skins and did not care for the hot wings which arrived cold in the center.

              Still waiting for TPs review.


              1. re: advisor_Girl

                I was going to go today but after reading reviews I decided to give it a bit more time to get their act together. I did eat at books and books and I liked it better than last time I went. I will start recommending that place more often (this has nothing to do with burgers though...)

                1. re: advisor_Girl

                  That is totally uncalled for! Now come to think of it, when we were dividing up the check, we noticed that our lamb burgers had been rung up as "Someplace" grass fed beef burgers but we didn't think anything of it. Now you've got me wondering if our lamb burgers got swapped out. I seriously think that if a place puts any doubt in your mind as to what they've served you I see no problem sending it back and just bailing. Not being able to tell between types of meat at a place that's supposed to specialize in just burgers is absurd. Imagine going to Morton's and the waiter saying "Um yeah, I told you it was a tuna steak before, but it's really a NY strip. Sorry."

              2. I went with a few friends last night and, overall, it was pretty good. We were originally told that it would be a half hour wait, but by the time we'd gotten drinks at the bar they were ready to seat us.

                Two of my group were vegetarians, so they both had the veggie burger. Both enjoyed them. I'm sure topping one of the burgers with a thick slice of fried mozzarella didn't hurt. I had the lamb burger with grilled escarole and mushrooms, which was also quite tasty, especially the escarole. One other person had the 8 oz. and made short work of it. Sides: onion rings, kennebec (heirloom potato) fries, fried pickles, roasted broccolini--all very good.

                I guess at the LA restaurant that lamb burger is made with grass-fed beef instead of lamb (still dressed with the escarole, etc). That's what it rang up as on the ticket, so, yes, there was still some of the confusion that others have mentioned in that respect. It basically just seemed more like a point of sale system issue than anything else.

                The waitress was quite knowledgeable and friendly throughout. My only real complaint about the place was the noise. We pretty much had to almost shout the whole time. Other than that, it was an enjoyable meal.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Nick

                  I just went and the service was not good at all. They were friendly but forgetful and very slow. As far as the food goes
                  Hamburgers - I liked them but I think clarkes, and Joe allen are better. Joe allen is the best on the beach.
                  Their onion rings rule
                  The shortribs grilled cheese is very good
                  fried olives are good
                  artichokes are good but nothng special.
                  my chocolate shake was nothing special
                  chocolate cupcake was good but nothing special
                  carrot cake cupcake was eeh - too dry.

                  Overall I will wait about 3-6 months before trying again as the service was extremely slow. It seems they still don't have their act together on that front yet.

                  1. re: tpigeon

                    Wow, tpigeon, I was planning on going tomorrow. You might make me rethink my idea.


                    1. re: BurgerBeast

                      BB, sounds like a SoBe trifecta for you tomorrow. Lunch/snack/dinner!!!!!

                        1. re: BurgerBeast

                          They were out of some stuff you tried that I would have liked to try
                          Corn Dog
                          Truffled Potato Skins
                          I also wanted to try the bread pudding...
                          Unfortunately it took them forever to tell us.

                          I will try this place again later.

                          1. re: tpigeon

                            The only dessert they had was cupcakes and shakes when I was there. I also wanted to try the bread pudding.


                          2. re: BurgerBeast

                            I visited for lunch on Friday w/ a friend. We had just ran into another friend who had nothing but raves to say about this place so we arrived real hyped up for some burgers.
                            We walked in, and initially no one was at the door, so we picked our own booth. The place was about 2/3rds + full. Service was fine, nothing special, but not bad either.
                            Quick glance at the awesome beer list and a Terrapin Ale (GA) was ordered. We started with the Kobe Mini Corndogs, Fried Pickles, Truffled Skins, and the Shortrib and Bel Paese Grilled Cheese. The minidogs were more like a normal sized dog cut into 3 segments, speared, then breaded and fried. Not that I could tell whether it was Kobe or whatever, but it was definitely a very nice tasting dog, served with some whole grain mustard for dipping. The pickles were cut into triangular spears about half a pickle long, breaded and fried. These were pretty good, and different than expected (expecting rounds). The skins were decent at best. Light on the truffle flavor, and light on the parmesan, these puny skins were almost naked. Dragging them through the ketchup and mayo helped. The short rib grilled cheese was nice, pretty much just as i remembered from Table 8. Now, I wouldn't mind a little more filling between those well-griddled slices of toast...
                            For my burger choice, I went with the 8oz Burger and added sharp cheddar and bacon. My friend did the same but with fried mozzarella instead of cheddar. We both devoured our burgers. My burger was really tasty, well cooked, and seasoned. I did not have the issue of bland meat as others have posted. I will definitely return to try more burger flavor combos - their toppings list is first rate. Overall, a good experience.

                  2. I really, really want to like this place. A clean, good looking joint with a good jukebox, pool table, and video games, kinda like a college bar for grown ups. Add to that good ownership and it will eventually be a great addition to the Beach, but... Walked in to 2/3 full restaurant only to be told to wait at the bar because they were short staffed. Ran into friends at the bar so it was no big deal. An hour later, we snagged two open stools and decided to eat at the bar. Asked for menus and really fell in love. Corn dogs, fried pickles, plus the fried olives and short rib grilled cheese from Table 8's bar menu! It was like a state fair of my youth but with a serious Chef cooking. Well, first we were told that we had to wait to order because the kitchen was backed up, then when we ordered, no corn dog, no fried pickles, argggh! Ordered slider sampler and onion rings as replacements. When food arrived, asked the food runner which slider was which and his reply was, "I don't know". We figured it out and everything was delicious, with the onion rings being especially delicious. I'll be back because of the food, but think I'll go earlier in the evening.