Saturday, June 25, 2011

Burger & Barrel

June 23, 2011 - SBE XVIII
Location: 25 W. Houston (SoHo)
SBE Score: 74

To summarize today's review: Very good appetizers. OK burgers. Mixed reviews on the atmosphere.

Above: Meatballs & Fresh Ricotta, Crispy Fish Tacos (2 orders)
Below: Bash Style Burger, B & B Classic Burger, Mushroom & Gruyere Burger

Pros and Cons
  • Great decor, but Houston makes it a bit touristy
  • Throwback playlist
  • Great service

Total Bill $180. Over and out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shake Shack

April 15, 2011 - SBE XVII
Location: Madison Square Park

SBE Score: 74

People in the Shake Shack cult would not agree that Shake Shack is in the bottom 50% of NYC burgers. In fairness, if we had sat in the park, it probably would have scored higher, but we all brought people, and brought our food to eat at Third and Long (awful Murray Hill bar that was playing the Rangers vs. Capitals game and lets you bring in food).

You will probably wait in line to extensively deliberate your order but, if on the off chance you get lunch at 10:15 am, you can order an assortment of the following;
  • Burgers
  • Fries (well, really just fries or cheese fries)
  • Flat-Top Dogs
  • Cups & Cones
  • Sundaes
  • Shakes
  • Concretes & Mix Ins

The Results...

Burger Patty: 5.6 [5-7]
Burger Experience: 6.8 [5-9]
Hot Dog: 2 [1-3]
Milk Shake: 7.8 [7-9]
Fries: 6.8 [4-10]

  2. Portions - good size that you can drink on afterwards (this seems to be a problem for us)
  3. Guests - we are running out of stuff to say to each other, so additions are always fun
  4. We assume it would have been enjoyable to eat in Madison Square Park

  1. Guests - Shake Shack did not undergo our diligent formal review
  2. THE HOT DOG. Do not get the hot dog

The bartender said that if the Rangers won, everyone got free beer. The Capitals won, but Luke was happy, and he didn't get beaten up by the sort-of Rangers fans, so more win than loss.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bill's Bar & Burger

March 26, 2011 - SBE XVI
Location: 22 9th Avenue, Meatpacking District
SBE Score: 73

In the heart of the meatpacking district lies Bill's, a fun and unpretentious burger restaurant that you could liken to a grown up Brother Jimmy's. The burgers weren't great (more on that below), but the appetizers, drinks, and fun atmosphere brought the score up.

  • Games on TV: We watched Arizona almost make it past UConn into the Final Four.
  • Good for large groups - there is a a small/bar area and large seating area in the back
  • Good beer selection (Leila was very excited to find Strawberry Abita on the list)
  • They sell cupcakes. Good cupcakes.
  • You can order a 5oz or 8oz burger - If you want anything below Medium Well, get the 8oz
  • Affordable Price Range: $6.50 for a 5 oz "Classic" - $12 for an 8 oz "Maytag Blue & Bacon"
  • The special sauce is awesome as a dipping sauce with fries, but...

  • ...the special sauce is a little much on top of the showcase "Bill's Burger."
  • Burger patties are very basic, aren't cooked to ordered or seasoned.
  • Luke and Leila got American Cheese - it definitely had a weird aftertaste.

Above: Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, the last remaining Jalepeno bomb (we ate the apps to quickly..)
Below: "Classic Burger" with crispy shallots (side special sauce), "Mushroom and Onion" Burger

The ratings....
  • Jalepeno Bombs: 9.2 [7 - 10]
  • Fish Tacos: 8 [7-10]
  • Chili Dog: 6.75 [5 - 8] .... take this rating with a grain of salt, because really, should chili dogs be rated?
  • Fish Salad: 8 [7 - 9]
  • Burger Patty: 4.75 [4 - 7]
  • Burger Experience: 4.75 [4 - 5]
  • French Fries: 6 [5 - 7]
  • Sweet Potato Fries: 3.8 [1 - 7]
  • Onion Rings: 5.6 [3 - 7]
But what does this mean?? Order anything that scored a 6 or higher (all apps, fries, and salad)

Total tab was $252.80 (including tip). Brian brought Laura as a guest, and in accordance with SBE rules, he picked up the tab.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Black Iron Burger

January 22, 2011 - SBE XV
Location: 5th Street between Avenues A and B (East Village)
SBE Score: 83

We came, we saw, we conquered. The list of pros is longer than the list of cons for good reason - Black Iron Burger is a great spot, and even though it's not the fanciest patty, it's a great burger. Also, BEST onion rings in New York.

  1. Black Iron Burger is a good place to bring a date
  2. and a great place to come with friends.
  3. Relatively inexpensive
  4. Good beer list
  5. A great 80s music playlist
  1. The vent was broken (though in fairness, they chose to push through and cook anyway)
  2. Cash only

An iceberg wedge with an equal ratio of lettuce and blue cheese...

The Burger - $6 (plus add ons)
Black & Blue Burger - blue cheese and cajun seasoning $8
Iron Horse - double patty with horseradish cheddar & grilled onions $9

The Results:
  • Burger Patty: 6.75 [6.5 - 8]
  • Burger Experience: 8.25 [7.5 - 9.5]
  • Fries: 6 [4-7]
  • Onion Rings: 8.5 [5.5 - 10]
  • Iceberg Wedge: 4.25 [3 - 5]

The total bill was $150, including tip.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


December 17, 2010 - SBE XVI
Location: 80 Spring Street, SoHo
SBE Score: 80

An awesome restaurant and fantastic service, but why Balthazar, do you even put a burger on the menu? Even WE wanted to order everything BUT the burger.

After a round of cocktails, we ordered a bottle of red and white to start the night. Although Balthazar is by far the most expensive restaurant we have reviewed (and consequently, paid for), the wine menu is extremely diverse and has reasonably priced bottles.

The White: ST-BRIS - Sauvignon G & J-H Goisot ‘08 . . . . . $35
The Red: BEAUJOLAIS - Ch√Ęteau Cambon ‘09. . . . . . . . . . . $35 ... anddddd back to the food.

The starters: White bean soup (of the day), Frisee Aux Lardons ($15), Pumpkin Ravoli ($13/19)

The Entrees: Grilled Brook Trout ($23), Lobster Ravioli ($15/24), Cheeseburger ($17)

We really didn't want to get burgers because there were so many great things on the menu, so, for the entrees, we did a family style surf & turf.

The Results
Pumpkin Ravioli: 7.75 [7-9]
Frisee Aux Lordons: 8.25 [8-9]
White Bean Soup: 6.75 [5-8]

If you're asking yourself, "why is a burger club giving a salad the highest rating among appetizers?" - "aux lardons" means "with bacon"....really good bacon

Lobster Risotto: 8.75 [8-10]
Trout: 7.66 [6-9]
Burger Patty: 5.75 [3-7]
Burger Experience: 4.75 [2-7]
Fries: 9.25 [8 -10]
Cookies: unreviewed, but eaten

Given the subjective nature of these reviews, it is hard to tell whether the Burger Experience deserved more than a 4.75. Maybe it was just bad comparatively to everything else... but then we go back to... don't put a burger on the menu if it's only going to be OK.

As per Holiday party tradition, we played White Elephant. The consequences of this are;
  • Leila is now a Rangers fan
  • Brian was the proud new owner of a knock-off Snuggie for an hour, until he lost it
  • Kate had to lug olive oil, vinegar, and salami all night
  • Luke has a board game none of us understand, or were able to learn....

Even though our total bill was a whopping $373 (not that it justifys anything, but that was including tip), we recommend that you go to Balthazar. Just don't order a burger.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


December 4, 2010 - SBE XIII
Location: Ludlow and Rivington, LES

SBE Score: 85

Sometimes we go to a restaurant because of the reputation of the burger. Othertimes, we review places we like, and hope that the burger stacks up to the restaurant's other good qualities. Even though Spitzer's burger was juicy and flavorful, it was not magical, nor was it an SBE favorite. However, the appetizers and sides are American tapas at its best, which is our version of a silver lining.

Overall - it was a fun way to begin a Saturday night....It was the first time that everyone gave 6+ on EVERY dish... which is a testament to non-mediocrity, at the very least.

Above: Brussell Sprouts with cranberries, Pork-Fat edamame ($5), Fois Gras ($15)

Below: Medium Rare with cheddar ($11), French Fries ($5), Truffle Macaroni & Cheese

The Results...

Burger Patty: 7.75 [8 - 9]
Burger Experience: 7.87 [6 - 9] ... the bun gets a gold star
French Fries: 6.7 [6 - 7]

Brussell Sprouts: 7.5
Mac & Cheese: 9 [8 - 10]
Fois Gras: 7.75 [6 - 9]
Pork-Fat Edamame: 8 [7 - 9]

The Pros
  • The food is very well plated (shout out for the pickled vegetables on the side of the burger)
  • Awesome beer list
  • Great waitress
  • Kate's favorite bar in NYC
  • Casual atmosphere and no pretension - a running theme of our pros....
  • The beer garden style seating - Spitzer's has picnic tables in the middle of the room, which are communal, and also a dining area with smaller tables in the back of the restaurant.
The Cons
  • You have to get your hand stamped when you come in- an unfortunate new system, about one year old. I know they are trying to prevent underage kids (don't want to pay for the fines when they get raided), but it detracts from the overall vibe.
  • Limited Liquor (if any?)

We drank a lot and ate a lot. Total bill: $164 + tip

no website...