Burgers, Burgers, Everywhere: Eating At The Burger Bistro

November 14, 2012 Denise Romano
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Luscious, luxurious burgers – made exactly the way the customer wants them, down to the roll that envelopes them – are just the beginning at Burger Bistro, a two-and-a-half-year-young Bay Ridge eatery that has expanded to Park Slope (eight months ago) and most recently to the Upper East Side of Manhattan (just three weeks ago).

The concept of the restaurant is both fun and logical. Customers come in, peruse the menu of options, then customize their burgers ($8 each for beef, lamb, turkey, chicken or veggie; $2 more for organic lamb or shrimp), picking their bread (or no bread—there are six options in total and the only one that costs more is garlic bread, add $1), and adding a cheese (10 choices for $1 or $2 extra), a sauce (six options — $1 each) and a topping (or more than one – 10 options for $1 or $2 each), checking off their selections with bright red grease pencil on laminated menus.

They check off how they want their burgers cooked, can add lettuce, tomato and/or onion at no extra charge ,and can also select a side dish ($4), if they want, an appetizer and, if they still have room, customize an ice cream sandwich for dessert ($6). Or if they come in before 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, they can get a beef, turkey, chicken or veggie burger with one cheese, one topping and one side for $10.

The concept arose, said owner John Agnello because he and his business partner, Vincent Dardanello, were frustrated by the attitude of fine dining steakhouses (where both had worked) that serve specific combination and refuse to substitute at the customer’s request.

“We thought that was ridiculous,” Agnello remarked. “It made us say no to people and we never agreed with that philosophy. We felt we wanted to put dining choices back in the guests’ hands. You should eat whatever you want to eat the way you want it.

“We’re not concerned with being [Park Slope’s] or New York’s or the United States’ best  burger,” he added. “We are really are just concerned with making your best burger, and we feel we can accomplish that with this menu format.”

The results are as tasty as they are enjoyable. Our burgers arrived piled high with the selected toppings, and flanked by a mound of fries.

In one case, the beef burger was served on a soft and sweet brioche roll, under a meltingly delectable pile of caramelized onions and smothered with gruyere cheese. The accompanying fries were made from battered sweet potatoes, and the interplay of sweet and smoky was delightful.

In another selection, the beef burger came with melted cheddar cheese and crumbles of Applewood smoked bacon, a classic combo. That plate was served with “onion frizzles” or shoestring thin onion rings that were crispy, crunchy and downright delicious.

Best of all, the burgers aren’t the whole story. The appetizers served up at Burger Bistro are flavorful, fun and slightly irreverent. We particularly enjoyed the Deep Fried Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Mayo ($7), which was sweet and crispy, with the spiciness provided by the swirl of chipotle mayo.

The Buffalo Tater Tots ($7) were sensational, coated in tart buffalo sauce, sprinkled with tangy blue cheese and slices of celery, and served with a blue cheese dipping sauce so that diners can double down on flavor.

The Mesclun Salad ($8) was light yet rich and eminently satisfying, with crispy greens enhanced by a sprinkle of goat cheese, slices of meaty Portobello mushrooms and sweet, soft slices of pear.

Good as the burgers and the appetizers are, be sure to save room for dessert: Ice cream sandwiches made with freshly baked cookies. We tried the ultra-rich Red Velvet Ice Cream nestled between a pair of shortbread cookies, and enjoyed every bite.


177 Fifth Avenue

Brooklyn NY 11217

(718) 398-9800



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