Friday, May 28, 2010
BURGER BAR IS ALIVE & WELL IN SAN FRANCISCO
On the Sixth Floor of Macy's on Union Square in San Francisco, chef Hubert Keller has opened his third Burger Bar.
Jim and I discovered the first Burger Bar at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas right after it opened a few years ago. And, we were hooked on how good the food is and how much fun it is to eat there. Since then, whenever we are in Las Vegas, we take time for a lunch at Burger Bar.
The story behind Burger Bar is that while Chef Keller was waiting for the opening of his fancy Las Vegas restaurant, a second version of his signature San Francisco restaurant, Fleur de Lys, he decided, on a whim, to experiment with a casual burger joint in the Mandalay Bay's shopping mall. His Burger Bar was meant to be a temporary restaurant until the other restaurant was completed. But, it was such a success, it has remained and thrived.
There is another Burger Bar in St. Louis, and the newest is in Macy's, occupying a spacious spot overlooking Union Square. The first dining area is shared with the bar. Seating is at the bar and at high tables. The main dining room has a combination of tables and high wooden booths. There is a TV tuned to ESPN on the wall of each booth...no sound, but sports for your background.
I stopped there for lunch yesterday and was delighted.
I must admit that I rarely eat beef. But I like a burger made of other ingredients such as turkey or veggies. Burger Bar's Veggie Burger is a wonderful made-in-house mixture of Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, Lentils, Green Peas, Brown & White Rice, Pumpkin Puree, Potato, Bread Crumbs, and Mozzarella Cheese. As I looked at the menu, I debated between the Veggie and the Turkey burgers. All burgers are served on your choice of bun, with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion. The basic non-beef burgers are priced at around $8.50.
Of course there are specialty burgers that go all the way up in price to $60 for the Kobe Beef burger that is garnished with Sautéed Foie Gras, Shaved Truffles, and Madiera sauce. The basic Angus Beef Burger is $9.75.
Side dishes include French Fries, Onion Rings, and Sweet Potato Fries. Sides are mostly priced around $3.50 for a generous servings. There is ketchup and mustard on each table. More exotic toppings can be ordered for small added charges.
So after perusing the main menu, still thinking Veggie vs. Turkey, and deciding on a side of Sweet Potato Fries, I noticed a separate menu of daily specials, each priced at $11.75 for some kind of sandwich with a side dish and a choice of hot or cold non alcoholic beverage. The Thursday special (I was there on Thursday), called the "Union Square," is a beef burger on sesame bun, Sweet Potato Fries, and a drink. Doing the math, I calculated that it would cost me less for the special than if I ordered my Burger with a side...and I had already ordered hot tea. So I asked my server if I could substitute a Whole Wheat Bun for the sesame bun. She told me I could not because the daily special burger and bun is smaller than that served à la carte. So, my next question was "How much smaller?" The special's burger is a 6-ounce burger and the à la carte burger is an 8-ounce serving.
Occasional meat eater that I am, but always thrifty diner, I decided that the smaller burger was more suited to my appetite and I knew that I could not get better prepared beef than what is served here, so I went for it and IT WAS WONDERFUL!! And, there was more than enough to eat.
One added observation: Lots of people where having Milkshakes with their Burgers...next time...