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The Burger Bar

June 16, 2008

There seems to be a new trend of restaurants called “burger bars.” They’re nice, posh restaurants that employ attractive servers and offer expensive drinks and expensive burgers on their menus. As far as I can tell, the concept was created when some dude had the following internal dialogue:

“I totally want a burger for dinner tonight. But I also want to take out this hot girl. I can’t take her to Hardees…. I guess I could eat by myself and go out to a bar with her later. But what if there were a bar that served burgers? Kill two birds with one stone.”

Perhaps that same dude imagined a demographic of women who have internal dialogues that go something like this:

“I totally want a burger for dinner tonight. I’m tired of dainty salads and miniscule portions of fish. I want something substantial. A great big burger. And then I want to forget that I ate something so big and gross and fulfilling by getting wasted. Basically, I want a bar where I can eat a burger.”

Maybe those people exist. Maybe they don’t. Probably not many of them, since the Sub Zero New American Burger Restaurant in the ever-busy Central West End was pretty empty when I was there with a friend last Saturday. To give due credit to the place, most of the people there were on dates. So if that’s the demographic they’re going after, they’re doing well. And they have plenty of items on the menu that guys could order to impress the ladies with their wealth, such as the $28 Kobe beef burger topped with lobster tale. Meat on meat—a precarious decision for a chef to make.

I ordered a bison burger that came with barbecue sauce and coleslaw (I usually don’t like coleslaw, but I was willing to give this featured burger a try). It was good, really good. Good bun-to-meat ratio, a little bit too much sauce, but that’s okay, and the meat itself was juicy and delicious. Probably worth my $12.

The best part about ordering a featured burger, though, was that it came with my choice of a side. And one of the side options was tempura vegetables, something I’ve never, ever seen listed as a side at a restaurant. I give SZNABR major props for that decision. (However, I will note that the sweet potato fries my friend got were really, really good. I’d get them next time.)

The server was friendly and tried really hard to be cool. He did not, however, try very hard to serve us. We went lengthy periods without seeing him at all, especially when we were ready to get the check and then pay for said check. (Advice to waiters: Getting the check to the table in a timely manner and then running the credit cards is your last chance to improve your tip by giving a good impression. You think that people are more patient because they’ve eaten by that point, but you’d be wrong. People’s stomachs may be satisfied, but when they’re ready for the check, they’re ready to go. You’re preventing them from going. Give them their check.)

Will the burger bar concept work? I think some chains have pulled it off, but in general, I don’t think it’ll catch on. Sushi is so much sexier. I’ll go to Hardees next time and catch up with my hot date later at a bar. And by “bar,” I mean “my kitchen.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Neeraja permalink
    June 17, 2008 9:38 am

    So apparently in New York there is this trend amongst those in the dating circuit which involves visiting restaurants that serve MEAT. And I mean meat. Women don’t want you to take them somewhere with meager portions of pate or two globs of goat cheese and a cut up beet that menus glorify as a “salad”. And men no longer want to date women who eat like anorexic mice. They want a lady who can polish off a nice, medium-rare T-bone or a juicy burger with all the fixins.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/09/fashion/09STEAK.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=meat+and+dating&st=nyt&oref=slogin

    What I want to know is, when did extreme gas become such a dating must?

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