Bareburger: A Review
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When Bareburger arrived in my hometown, Port Washington, about a year ago, it rolled in on a long and loved hype-train. Just about everyone I knew was talking about this burger chain that appeared out of, seemingly, thin air. People were raving over the fact it served food that was one hundred percent organic, and cringing at people mistaking organic for healthy. I remember the hipster-esque design of the building targeting a young, artsy crowd who are more inclined to spend the extra buck for quality. Also the extensive, and somewhat confusing create-your-own burger menu prompting you to choose from a selection of meats, buns, cheeses, bacons (yes they have multiple types of bacon), veggies, sauces, and spreads; and even me, a naturally decisive person, being almost brought to the point of insanity trying to pick out a burger. What I didn’t remember about Bareburger was the food itself. That left me with no impression.
When a new Bareburger opened up in the Plainview Shopping Center, about twenty minutes from NYIT’s Old Westbury Campus, I decided it was the perfect time to refresh my memory, while simultaneously kicking off a series of food reviews The Campus Slate will be bringing you, every edition, on restaurants we believe hold some appeal to NYIT’s students.
Founded in 2009 in Astoria, Queens, Bareburger is an all organic burger chain which quickly rose to prominence in the New York restaurant scene. Within ten months of opening at its original location, Bareburger, had already made back its initial investment, and in just two months of opening, owners decided to franchise their brand. Now Bareburger has thirty one locations with more on the horizon, spanning from New york to New Jersey all the way to Tokyo. People everywhere seem to be going berserk over Bareburger, and their organic food; which leaves me with the question, is Bareburger all it’s cracked up to be, or is Bareburger the clever result of a growing trend of organic food, being cashed-in upon?
Let me start with the single best thing I ate at Bareburger, their $12.95 “Blue Elk” burger. Needless to say, this is an elk burger, with amish blue cheese, country bacon, onion, and a tomato fig jam spread. I’m usually not a big fan of jams on burgers, but in this case it didn’t completely overpower the sandwich; instead it complemented the stronger flavors of the blue cheese and elk burger, which was gamy, but still rich and juicy.
The other burgers I sampled at Bareburger, which all fell into the same $11.00-$13.00 price range, weren’t as exhilarating as the elk burger. I found myself liking “El Matador”, a bison burger topped with queso fresco, pickled jalapenos, guacamole, green leaf, and spicy pico de gallo on a brioche bun; but it was for the wrong reasons, the toppings were more compelling than the burger itself. The toppings completely overpowered the bison patty they rested upon, which is a shame, because on its own, the bison burger isn’t half bad.”El Matador” and the “Supreme”, which consists of a beef patty, colby, country bacon, green leaf, onion rings, chopped fries and special sauce on a brioche bun; fell into the same trap I’ve seen a million other burger places fall into, it tried to do too much, which was the theme of Bareburger. Maybe the menu designers just got carried away with the extensive selection of options they had available, or maybe they were trying to mask their, quite honestly, bland and somewhat tasteless beef, under a mountain of other flavors. Regardless the end result was just as structurally inconsistent as is was from a flavor standpoint, extra napkins recommended.
By the way, since I haven’t mentioned it up to this point, if you want fries with your burger, you’ll have to order them separate. Yeah, it’s one of those places. I got the basket of fries and onion rings, which came accompanied by a plate of different sauces, most of which being surprisingly good, with the exception of the curry ginger ketchup which was pungent to say the least. As for the fries themselves, they’re thick, appear to be hand cut, and can best be described as addicting. Unlike the fries, which I had to force myself to stop eating, the onion rings are coated in a thick breading, are dry and fairly subpar.
The meal itself, which was split with two other friends, came out to just over eighty dollars plus tip, not the greatest bargain in the world, considering the fact that there were no alcoholic beverages on the tab as the Plainview Bareburger doesn’t have their liquor license yet. Instead we each got one of their “special” bottled sodas; and while the sarsaparilla was gone about as quickly as it was opened, the ginger brew didn’t go down as smoothly. Actually it needed to be watered down by my friend due to it’s excessively strong taste. The bill also included a snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich, and a peanut butter, chocolate milkshake, wrapping the meal up on a high note, as the deserts at Bareburger are almost worth the trip on their own. My friend, Pete Athanasopoulos, who had ordered the peanut butter chocolate milkshake said it was “incredibly flavorful”, and “tasted better than regular ice cream” because it was organic.
If there’s a great mom and pop burger joint near close to where you live, and you’re craving a burger, I’d wholeheartedly suggest going there instead of Bareburger. Bareburger is like the good resteraunt in the airport, it’s not that it’s bad, but if you had more options, chances are you’re not eating there. Bareburger seems to miss the ball on what exactly a burger is, they spent too much time asking if they could add all these toppings to their burgers, and not enough time deciding if they should. Then again, these toppings are just optional, you could easily go there and order a beef burger, with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles, and receive something that’s woefully middle of the pack in terms of burgers you’ve had in your life, and that’s why I give the Bareburger in Plainview, New York, my honest score of 7.9/10.