Friday, October 16, 2009

Bill's Bar & Burger - A New Classic

Opening tonight, Bill's Bar & Burger is exactly that and (thankfully) not much more. The latest venture by restaurateurs B.R. Guest are wisely keeping it simple and living up to the name by pretty much only serving burgers in a bar setting for decent prices. Who's Bill? Who cares, the burgers are great.

Taking a page out of the Shake Shack playbook Bill's is serving an All-American original - the griddled smashburger. It's the burger Josh O, Adam Kuban, and myself have been pushing for years and the burger that started it all over 100 years ago (one which of course predates the fast food McWendyKings). It's the primary source burger we crave which can usually only be found in the Midwest. It's a burger that looks and tastes similar to Steak 'N Shake but one that is made with top-notch Pat LaFrieda ground beef. I'm not sure this burger has an equal in NYC.

Shake Shack finally has some healthy competition. Like the Shack, Bill's is employing a Mira-Clean flattop, a bun-buttering wheel, and a Pat LaFrieda burger blend. The focal point of the menu is their signature burger selection, one which caught my eye immediately - the Bobcat. That's right, a Green Chile Cheeseburger may have finally made it to the big city. Unfortunately, there was no green chile in the restaurant yet for the press preview and no one at Bill's had actually been to the Bobcat Bite to taste the country's best example. Hmmmm. Chef Paul Sale assured me that they were using authentic green chile and nothing else (the green chile that Bobcat uses is unadulterated and stewed, spooned on the burger hot, and damned spicy). I'll go back soon to make sure they are using authentic Hatch Green Chile.

The classic cheeseburger alone is worth the visit but the burger that really did it for Josh and I was the Fat Cat (pictured above), a double patty (2 - 5oz.) cheeseburger served on an English muffin with caramelized onions - truly sublime (after taking his first bite Josh actually screamed out, "OH MY GOD"). I'm not a big fan of the burger-on-a-muffin thing but this sort of worked. Next time I want this burger on a toasted white squishy.

Cheap, high-quality burgers are a rarity, especially in the trendy Meatpacking District. I'll be back for more. Imagine if you can actually get an authentic Green Chile Cheeseburger in Manhattan! I hope they get it right.