Can't a girl get a decent burger around here?
We recently visited two new burger joints in Brooklyn. Burger stands seem to be to new restaurants what "wolf" was to indie rock during the past 12-16 months: Wolfmother; Wolf Parade; Wolf Eyes; Peter and the Wolf; etc. Yesterday's lunch was at the Brooklyn Burger Bar in Park Slope, in the space formerly occupied by Bar Minnow, and where they tout hand-made black Angus beef patties. We were hipped to it by the Larrys a couple days ago, although you couldn't miss the garish yellow awning if you tried.
The first sign of trouble was when the waitress took our order without writing it down, a huge pet peeve of ours. I went with a medium burger with bacon and mozzarella, while DMR went with provolone and caramelized onions on the side, cooked to medium as well. She came back a few minutes later to confirm the cheese type and double check whether or not I had ordered bacon. Can readers with wait experience chime in on why there's such an abhorrence to taking a pen to paper, especially in a casual restaurant setting? Our burgers arrived on plate with a mound of shoestring fries (though special house fries are offered on the menu, they were inexplicably unavailable on this day), lettuce, a slice of tomato, a thin ring of red onions and a new pickle wedge. When our server asked if we needed anything else, I answered with black pepper, mayo, mustard, a couple place settings, oh and the top bun for DMR's burger!
I was appalled. I don't think Dan nor the server noticed and when I pointed this out, she in all seriousness asked Dan to check under the lettuce leaf! I wasn't sure whether to bang my head on the table or burst out laughing. I wish the missing brioche half was the only shortcoming of the day. Despite the burgers looking solid appearance-wise, there's not much else positive to report.
The fries were cold and a bit too oily. The burger was void of flavor and juiciness. The caramelized onions had been reduced to a sickly sweet jam, so off-putting I had to scrape it off my burger. When our bill arrived, we noticed we were charged $4 for a glass of fountain root beer. GTLO! We were trying to think of an explanation for this exorbitant charge. Perhaps there were free refills, although the menu doesn't note that (or the price). We needed an explanation and what we were told was that the root beer served used to be the more premium bottled Abita. Used to? Meaning when the Brooklyn Burger Bar was Bar Minnow, a completely different restaurant? So they just haven't gotten around to reconfiguring Ordertron 2000? DMR and I both got the impression that we weren't first customers to point out this price gouging. Why don't they just charge $20 for a burger and hope that most people won't say anything or won't even notice. Oh, and where does a restaurant get the nerve to not give back coin change? It's one thing if you get shorted a penny or two (although I still find that to be really arrogant and aggravating - if you don't want to deal with unrounded numbers, alter your prices to include tax and even it off), but seriously, where was my 27 cents today? I wish Bonnie's was open for lunch.
On the flip side, we are going to give 67 Burger a second shot even though the CLC, DMR and I weren't blown away on the first try. There were some problems with the food preparation and overrall flow of the place but also a couple of little quirks and glimpses of greatness they can build on. I was a big fan of 67 Burger's fountain beverage choices. On tap were RC Cola, Diet Rite, Bosco Chocolate Soda and Stewart's Root Beer. The $1.95 price includes a free refill, possibly even refills, because the drinks were casually filled and never to the top. The french fries, when not sitting on the counter, waiting to be delivered to your table, were piping hot and delicious. Unfortunately, one of our orders of fries had the misfortune to sit out too long and lost its crispiness. All three of our burgers were way overdone. The CLC had ordered hers medium rare, while DMR and I went with our usual medium doneness. Only my burger showed any hint of pink. The outsides were charred and hard as a rock, as were the buns (note the bottom right of the plate). The insides though surprisingly remained somewhat juicy, which combined with the sauteed mushrooms and onions, aided in the disintegration of the bottom bun.
These guys should really ditch the table service. It doesn't make any sense at any time, but especially when there's a crowd, as was the case when we ate here. You order at the register, so why then sit around and wait for someone to deliver your food? Was I supposed to wait for a server to come around to ask for a drink refill or was it kosher that I turned around, stood up and took the three steps to the counter to ask for one? Service issues aside, our pal Balgavy was shocked upon hearing of our not too stellar experience, as he's had a number of perfectly cooked rare burgers here. That gives us hope.