When I made the Lenten promise this year to eat only humanely raised meat, I was not anticipating a major burger craving the first weekend into the season. Enter Bareburger, a New York City micro-chain featuring a menu of exotic meat burgers made with organic, locally sourced ingredients. With ten locations throughout Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island, Bareburger is a convenient option for burger lovers with adventurous taste buds.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the 34th Street and 3rd Avenue location in Manhattan was the laid-back atmosphere and earthy décor. From the ceilings made with recycled tin barn siding to the tables made with reclaimed wood, it was clear that Bareburger’s efforts toward sustainability extend far beyond the menu. For a Saturday night around 7 PM, the restaurant was busy but not too crowded, and we were seated immediately when we walked through the door.
One of my favorite things about the menu at Bareburger was the variety. Among the burger options, you could choose one of thirteen different patties ranging from beef to mushroom burgers to exotic meat selections, which included lamb, wild boar, elk, bison and ostrich. The menu also featured a wide selection of sides, salads, sandwiches and desserts and included multiple vegan and gluten free options for customers with dietary concerns.
The drink menu offered an assortment of beer, wine and organic sodas. I chose a bottle of Sarsaparilla soda, which was creamy and delicious but far too overpriced at $2.95. Considering most burgers on the menu cost over ten dollars, my friends and I were disappointed to discover that sides were not included. We ordered the ring and fries combo to start, which came with three dipping sauces: curry ketchup, Bareburger special sauce and habanero chipotle mayo. The fries were perfectly seasoned and the onion rings had just enough crunch. Paired with the habanero chipotle mayo, they were a delicious start to the meal.
In the mood for something different, I ordered the Habanero Express burger with elk on a multi-grain roll. The meat was tender and juicy with a taste similar to beef but slightly more full-flavored. Although it worked well with the pepper jack, poblano peppers, and habanero chipotle mayo, there was so much piled on top of the burger that the flavor of the meat was overpowered. Two of my friends opted for bison burgers, while another chose the farmer’s veggie burger. Compared to the elk, the flavors of both the bison and veggie burgers were disappointing. Next time, I would skip the exotic meats altogether and try the lamb or classic beef.
Although our burgers and sides left us stuffed, the desserts sounded too good to pass up. We ultimately chose the caramel pecan cheesecake, which had a rich flavor but was not as smooth and creamy as I would look for in cheesecake. I would have liked to try the banana foster or hot honey milkshake, but at $7.95 each, the price was a turn-off.
Considering that a burger and fries could run anywhere from $12 to $18, I probably would not choose to come to Bareburger often. Although I enjoyed the atmosphere and respect the company’s sustainability efforts, I was disappointed in the high prices, especially since I was not blown away by the food. If what you want is a good classic burger at a decent price, Bareburger may disappoint. But if you are passionate about sustainability or are curious about what an ostrich or boar burger might taste like, then stop by one of the many Bareburger locations across the city for a splurge.
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