Now that my office is near the downtown area I have a whole new set of restaurants at my disposal. Starting with the closest in my vicinity I first headed over to Bar + Bistro. I’ve had ok meals here in the past, although I’ve found the service iffy and prices a bit high, but when I was contacted by Chef Beni Velasquez to come try their burger I was intrigued because I hadn’t yet noticed it on their menu. He promised me a great burger with three different meats, so that couldn’t be bad right?
Bar+Bistro, or Bar + Bistro, or BarBistro, or Bar Bistro depending on where you look on their website, is located in the heart of the constantly developing arts district on Charleston and Main inside The Arts Factory. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, but the area outdoors has always looked a little dirty and dusty every time I’ve been here. Inside you will find a couple rooms; I’ve always sat in the first room with a few cramped tables made to look like giant painter’s pallets. While the tables are a cool idea, I find the fake thumb hole to be a little awkward and always seems to collect crumbs. The menu features primarily a wide variety of tapas, but also sandwiches, pizzas, many entrees, desserts and even a vegan menu. The last time I was here we ordered a couple tapas and two drinks, and I believe our bill was around $75. Glancing at the menu’s high prices you can see how your bill can easily climb unexpectedly so be careful.
The burger in question, the pig-pork-cow, is a half pound Kobe Wagyu burger, with a Brioche bun, Spanish chorizo, pancetta, Manchego and white cheddar cheeses and pickled shallots. What came out was large, colorful and definitely looked impressive. The first thing I noticed was that no two bites were the same; one had a fresh avocado slice, the next crispy and delicious pancetta, to a subtle but equally tasty chorizo. The Brioche bun was very buttery and quite good, but a tad too thick and dry for my liking. I think you would need something this hearty to handle all the items stuffed in this burger, but it missed the mark a tiny bit for me. The meat had good flavor, but it almost seemed too tinkered with or something; it was dark like it has been seasoned with a Worcestershire sauce, and maybe a bit overdone. The pancetta was crispy, smoky and delicious, the chorizo was a little less present despite its apparent abundance when it showed up, but when it managed its way into a bite it was a great change from the other meat flavors. The cheese had a pungent, fantastic flavor to it and I found myself holding back from stuffing a few fries in my mouth with some bites to savor the flavor on its own. It was not very melted and fairly cold in some spots though, so that raises the question: are there some cheeses that don’t need to be melted in a burger? For me the answer is no, all cheeses should be melted and the only cold temps should stem from my veggies. As a whole there were some very complex and varied flavors that went really well together, I just wish the bun and meat were both a little less dry.
The fries had the potential to be great, but weren’t quite there. They had good rosemary flavor, no bad oil taste, looked crispy but were in fact a bit too undercooked for my liking. I would be interested to try the sweet potato fries as an alternative to see what one more unique flavor in this mix would be like. Overall this meal was quite good, although not perfect due to a couple missteps. $16.22 with tax is a tiny bit high for me, but given all the meats and ingredients on this burger I’m not sure I can complain. I’ve felt that this restaurant is a bit overpriced based on past visits, but this meal actually felt a little more reasonable compared to the others. $15 for a burger is definitely past the reasonable price point of many of my followers, but if you’re willing to fork over that much for a burger this is one of the more unique burgers I’ve had lately.