Thursday, March 22, 2012

Burger Bliss at Burger Bar?

Burger Bar
3950 South Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89119

When I learned that we would be going to Vegas for a few days I hastily wrote down some restaurants that I wanted to try. First on the list was this place at Mandalay Bay, Burger Bar. My excitement wasn't even directed towards their burgers. I mean I wanted to try them, but there was something else that lurked on the menu that pulled me towards Burger Bar, the Nutella Milkshake. More about the shake later.

Burger Bar is located in the shopping mall that connects Mandalay Bay to the Luxor. This casual eatery is the brainchild of one of America's most talented chefs, Hubert Keller. Keller's restaurants include world renowned Fleur de Lys in San Francisco, and Fleur by Hubert Keller, which also is in Las Vegas. Keller has also been featured on various versions of Top Chef, as a judge and contestant, as well as being the author of two cookbooks, with another on its way soon. With all of these accolades, I was even more excited to try this place, if that was possible.

There are three locations of Burger Bar, (this one, one in St. Louis, and San Francisco, and another on the way in China later this year). This long and narrow restaurant is packed at 9pm on the Monday night we arrive here. I know this is Vegas and most people are on vacation here, but it is still a minor shock to see people eating so late. The restaurant is dominated by a long bar that caters to hip patrons fresh off their gambling wins and loses.

The menu here is of course dominated by burgers. They have 10 chef's burgers that you get as they are listed on the menu. They also have the build your own burger option, where you get to pick what kind of patty and what you want on your burger. They offer eight kinds of meat to build your burger with.  Meats range from beef to more exotic options like buffalo, salmon, and turkey. Not crazy exotic, but if you do not like beef you do have other options. Toppings are numerous here. They offer 47 different items to compliment your burger. Some of the crazier ones include; jalapeno bacon, pan seared foie gras, grilled half a lobster, cranberry sauce, and black truffles, which go for $30. We did not get too crazy with our picks though. Lets see how they turned out.

Before we get to the burgers, we had this Appetizer Sampler, with Skinny Fries, Buttermilk Fried Onion Rings, and Buttermilk Fried Zucchini. The fries and onion rings were the best of the three. The zucchini was too mushy and was not even helped out by the plethora of sauces we got. Almost all of the six sauces we got were to our liking. The lone exception was the White Barbecue Sauce. The best of the bunch were the spicy ketchup, the cinnamon honey sauce, with the king of all being the chipotle aioli. This sauce could have made even wooden Popsicle sticks taste great.

Now on to the burgers, first up was Katie's selection. She got a varied version of the Hubert Keller Burger. She had an Angus burger patty, with blue cheese, sauteed spinach, caramelized onions, and a red wine and shallot reduction, all on a ciabatta bun. She felt this was a well balanced burger, with a subtle taste. The sharpness of the blue cheese was neutralized by the spinach and sweetness of the onions. Very juicy burger.

Writing this review I realized I might have screwed up with my choice of burger. I should have gone with something more exotic. I kind of was overwhelmed by the choices for toppings here. I know what I was thinking in my head though. All genres of food that we try, I have my, "go to item", that I use to judge a new restaurant by. In Mexican restaurants it's carnitas, in Italian places it is lasagna. With burgers it is a Bacon Cheeseburger. My burger included bacon, cheddar, caramelized onions, and aioli on the side. Pretty pedestrian, but this burger was delicious and very juicy. The burger was cooked medium rare, the way I wanted it, and the patty had a good flavor to it. The toppings were a great compliment to this burger and worked well together. The next time I am here of course I will get a little more crazy with my selections, but at least I know Burger Bar makes a good burger.

As delicious as this Nutella Milkshake looks, it was equally as delicious to drink. Not overly sweet, and a good chocolate/hazelnut flavor. The serving size of this shake was not the biggest, but it might seem that way only because we were sharing it. Good thing we split it because I was really stuffed from the burgers.

Burger Bar really lived up to the hype. The burgers were great and the milkshake rocked it. The prices here are a little on the high side, but being on vacation you need to splurge every once in awhile. Burgers start at $10, and go up from there depending on the number of toppings and extras you want to add. We had heard that service can sometimes be an issue here, but we did not experience that. Our server, Harmony was very efficient, kept things moving, and was very sweet. We are looking forward to coming back and trying other burgers here, but not sure I can get away from the Nutella shake.

Out of five ponytails, (because in 2006, Hubert Keller was declared the winner of the best culinary ponytail. Mario Batali must be really upset!), five being best to zero being worst, Burger Bar gets 3.5 ponytails.

For more information on Burger Bar, click here:

Burger Bar (Mandalay Bay) on Urbanspoon

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