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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bobby's Burger Palace

     I've done it again! I have a rule: Do not try a new restaurant until it's been in business for at least three months. I confess that I have broken that rule from time to time with disappointing consequences, and today I succumbed to weakness again. I convinced myself that it wouldn't be too bad if Bobby Flay's name was behind it. It made no difference.
     Bobby's Burger Palace opened in December in my neighborhood after much anticipation. The look of the place is clever. The overhead lighting and the seating match in their ribbon-like shape, and the fact that customers sit at one long, uninterrupted curving counter gives the space the appearance of a futuristic soda shop.
   It was 3:00 pm on a Friday, not a particularly busy time, but there was still a 20-minute wait in line (I heard it was 45 minutes during the Christmas rush). There are only two cash registers and only one was manned. In general, the place was understaffed, and the employees that were there, seemed confused and clumsy. One girl dropped an entire tray of dirty dishes on a customer's feet.
     The weather was cool and comfortable so we decided to sit outside. There were no utensils anywhere on the terrace tables nor did any of the employees provide or even offer utensils. After another 15-minute wait for my burger, and after my friend Jackie had been forced to eat her grilled cheese sandwich before it went completely cold, she kindly walked into the restaurant and grabbed some for me straight from the counter.
     When you place your order at the register, you are issued a number to display on your table.  My number was 20.  Orders 21 (Jackie's) through 26 were delivered before mine. My burger arrived after we inquired about it.
     Despite the inconveniences, these are small issues that I expect to encounter even in the fanciest of eateries in the early days. Management can easily make these tweaks as the place finds its rhythm.
     But let's talk about the food. The menu promised that Jackie's sandwich would be a rich blend of four cheeses: American, Swiss, Cheddar and Monterey Jack. I took a taste and found it bland. She said it was the best grilled cheese sandwich she'd ever had. Different palates- it's what makes the culinary world go round.

     The sweet potato fries were fresh and crisp and salted just right. They came with a Honey Mustard Horseradish sauce, but neither one of us likes spicy food, and frankly, the fries alone were delicious. The pistachio milkshake tasted more like vanilla infused with pistachio. It wasn't bad, but the pistachio flavor didn't jump up to greet your taste buds as it should. I did love the super-wide straw. Perfect tool to enjoy a thick shake.
     I ordered the Bobby Blue Burger. The name had me at the mere hint of blue cheese, only there was no real blue cheese. It was a blue cheese dressing- a good dressing, but there were no small crumbles to bite into for the taste explosion that blue cheese is intended to provide. I wanted the meat cooked medium and I got a stunning, healthy-sized patty, glistening brown on the outside and gloriously pink on the inside. This burger had great potential, but also a fatal flaw: For some reason, they felt showering it in salty potato chips would be a beneficial addition to the already salt-heavy flavor of the dressing. The crunch in every bite was more than well accomplished with the superbly crispy bacon strips. It was overkill.
     If there weren't other places around of comparable price and menu, I would probably like BBP more, but Shula Burger has an amazing variety of burgers and to-die-for sides for about the same price. And for a few more dollars, Fuddruckers is always a sure thing.
     I think I probably will give BBP another chance sometime down the road, but first I'll give them time to get their act together.

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