You’d think that after a couple years of eating burgers one would run out of places to go in a small-ish city like Las Vegas, yet my to-do list is constantly growing with places I’ve never heard of. And now along comes celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay with not one but three new restaurants in the past several months, including BurGR at the Planet Hollywood. There has been much hype about all of his new locations, especially Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Paris which supposedly has a 3 month backup for reservations, so the food must be good right? This made my expectations very high for one of his restaurants devoted solely to my favorite meal. But could it possibly deliver?
BurGR is located in the heart of the Planet Hollywood casino; one of the worst places for a local to access next to maybe anything inside of Caesar’s Palace in my book. You have to travel through a full side of the shops and the casino to get to the restaurant which is adjacent to one of the entries off the Strip. Since it had been open barely a week, and also the weekend right before New Year’s, I figured it might be best to make a reservation and called the number on their website. After 4 failed phone calls to either clueless Caesar’s employees not knowing that this new restaurant existed, or being transferred to lines that went to defunct voicemail boxes, I gave up and took a chance walking in. We arrived to a 35+ minute wait for two, with plenty of larger groups waiting at the front. Luckily there was absolutely no one sitting at the bar so we took our chances there. The entry has a pretty large fire feature wall, which at the time of my visit still wasn’t functioning. There is a fairly plain bar that seats about 15 right at the front, with a very open almost cafeteria-like layout of booths and tables. A pretty cool wavy ceiling swoops through most of the space, only broken up by a flat ceiling centered in front of the display kitchen.
The menu is fairly simple, and really focuses on the restaurant’s namesake: burgers. There are a few interesting sounding appetizers, salads and some tasty shakes from what I’ve heard. According to their website the burgers are cooked over an open flame fueled by hard woods, the only burger joint of its kind on the Strip. More about that in a second. What is nice to see is that the menu does offer I believe 11 different kinds of pre-designed burger options; I’ve been to far too many celebrity burger joints on the Strip and found maybe 3 choices on their menu. With this many choices, unless the burger was going to be completely awful I figured I’d have to come back and try one of their more adventurous double stacked burgers that come with a regular patty in addition to another kind of meat.
So with this round I went with the slightly more neutral chanterelle burger: chanterelle mushrooms, arugula and figgy-onion jam. What arrived was a perfectly formed burger on an equal sized, perfectly proportioned bun. For some reason I really wanted to hate this meal coming into it, but I was fairly impressed with it upon first bite; the meat was very good quality, and had really good char flavor around the edges that actually made us think back to our last savored bites of a Bachi burger. But that wood-fueled flavor? Not sure that was it. It was cooked close to the medium rare I had ordered, with some pink throughout but really lacking any sort of juices. The chanterelle mushrooms had really good flavor and were proportioned well, and the arugula was a good touch. I forgot all about the figgy-onion jam until after I had finished the burger; apparently either they did too or it just wasn’t flavorful enough to stand out. Although the bun was sized perfectly, I found it to be very dry and inconsistent, with some overly buttery bites showing up at welcomed moments. Overall it was a very solid burger. My girlfriend actually compared its overall level of perfection in composition and flavor to the consistency of Bachi, which I understand but don’t completely agree with. While I did find the meat to be pretty savory, it’s just not on the same level. And Bachi’s buns? Forget it; the BurGR ones don’t come close.
What was a huge letdown for this meal was how awful the fries were; thin, hollow and completely overcooked. We went with the plain fries over the truffle parmesan or sweet potato in order to sample the basics of what are offered, and maybe that was a mistake. Both the curry and chipotle ketchups that accompany the regular fries are good, maybe the chipotle not as much, but neither flavors really go together or make sense with the burgers we ordered. And they were literally so hard and overcooked that my jaw was almost sore from eating them. Having the perfect fries may have changed my overall perception of this meal a bit, as this is a major gripe of mine.
I think $16 for just the burger is also a little high, even being in a Strip location. If one is to truly compare the composed perfection to a Bachi burger, which I feel there is just no comparison to that burger, you can get far more for $9. And $8 for our plain fries is insanely high; I’m not sure I would ever consider spending $11 for their truffle parmesan or $9 for the sweet potato fries after sampling these. If you’re obsessed with Ramsay, or the whole celebrity chef thing, then you’ll probably be impressed with the quality of this burger, as many folks on Yelp seem to be right now. But if you’re looking for simply a fantastic burger, there are far better options on the Strip in better locations, and plenty more throughout the city for a far better price. I will say that since this review became much more of a comparison to Bachi than I anticipated, I’ll be going back to try the Char Siu burger which sounds like something off their menu. I don’t expect to reverse much of my opinion though.