Bill's Bar and Burger. Meh. « blogging for burgers

Bill's Bar and Burger. Meh.

When B.R. Guest recently opened another restaurant, I was skeptical.  I used to be a fan of the upscale-casual company’s concepts, and I actually was talking with them about joining their team a few years back.  However, as of late, I have been less than impressed with the quality of food at some of their locations.  The charm has worn off a bit.  That’s why when Bill’s Bar and Burger opened up in the old Hog Pit space, it wasn’t first on my list.

But they do have a smashed burger, so that was intriguing.

On a chilly night at the Standard Beer Garden a few months back, we tried to snag a quick burger at Bill’s, only to find that it was packed with the MPD-gensia.  This type of experience turns me off for a good few months (like when I refused to go to Di Fara again after confronting a two-hour wait).

About a week ago, the opportunity arose again, only this time I knew it was going to happen.  A Conde Nast Traveler party was happening, again at the Standard, and I knew that a mid-week pop-in to Bill’s would out a bit more positively.

We walked in around 8 o’clock and were quasi-immediately shown to a table.  The décor is fine, nothing really to write home about.  They didn’t mess around with too much of the raw elements that the Hog Pit had left behind.  The bar was where it was and the walls were where they were.  The front room is filled with high tables, and combined with the low-ish ceilings, it actually makes you feel like you are stepping into a cave (or, a pit, as the former establishment’s name might indicate).  It actually reminded me a little bit of the front area at the Corner Bistro, only this was filled with artsy and trendy types (and a lot of tourists).

The smells coming out of the tiny kitchen were pretty solid.  I could catch a corner of the griddle top from the bar, and I could see some smashed burgers doing their thing.  Just like at Shake Shack, the griddle top yields very little smoke but a ton of odoriferousness (yep, that is a word).  The beer selection is pretty good, and they’ve even got Abita root beer on tap (and when you order it, the waitress will confirm that you know it’s non-alcoholic, as she did to Uberchef).

Just like the Shack, Bill’s has a selection of burgers available.  We were four, and fortunately for me, we all went with something different.  Burgergal stuck with a plain old boring hamburger, Uberchefette went with the Bobcat (burger with green chili and jack cheese), Uberchef went with the Sunset and Vine (a take on the INO burger, with special sauce), and I went with a Bacon Cheeseburger (I was feeling adventurous).

Starting from the most basic, the smashed burger was pretty good.  Although La Frieda supplies the resto with its beef, the meat blend wasn’t quite as flavorful as the Shack, but was still decent.  Maybe the patties were a tad under-seasoned or something.  In any case, the patty hit the spot for me.  My bacon cheeseburger was great, and unlike some larger bacon cheeseburgers, I didn’t feel like a huge fatty afterwards.  Uberchef’s Sunset and Vine was ok, although the special sauce was way too sweet for a burger.  It was almost cloyingly sweet, which was not all that pleasant to eat.  Uber-C wasn’t a fan at all, and tasted curry in it, while I just tasted some sort of sweet spice, like a sweet relish.  It was definitely no In-n-Out special sauce (aka, thousand island dressing).

I’ve gotta say, the surprise winner for me was the Bobcat.  I found the green chilis to be spicy yet addictive, and the acidity of the toping really cut into the blandness of the patty.  I found the combination to be flavorful, and it made me wish that I had ordered it for myself.

On the side, we had some disco fries, which were pretty good, but I think that any diner in New Jersey would rock out a better version.  The regular fries were unremarkable.

Overall, I was satisfied with Bill’s, and I would probably go back if I were down in that area on a weeknight (meaning, a return visit is pretty unlikely).  The prices were decent, and the ambiance was pleasant enough.  I felt like they rush you a tiny bit, like the Bistro does, but I guess that they have to do that, since it’s not exactly a “relax with a bottle of wine concept.”  The burgers were more than palatable, but there are definitely better places here in NYC (to completely disagree with Josh Ozersky).  3 out of 7 cows.

BG and I are hitting up Nougatine at Jean Georges tomorrow night.  Supposedly they have a great burger.  Only time (and I) will tell.

2 Responses to “Bill's Bar and Burger. Meh.”

  • I never said it was the best burger in New York. I do really love it though. (Although when it opened I was captivated by the crust. They don’t press the burgers as flat now as they did then, sadly.) It’s too bad you guys didn’t order the fatcat, which is my favorite of the burgers there.

    The little owl is probably my favorite overall burger in New York.


    • burgerboy

      Yeah, I was wishing for a little bit more crust myself. The initial photos I saw definitely had more developed crusts (kinda like the burgers I’ve been seeing around from RUB). Guess we’ll have to head back to try the fatcat… I’m always down with a cheeseburger on an english muffin.

      Little Owl has been on my list for months now, but I just can’t seem to get out of my UWS bubble for weekend lunches.

      Thanks for reading!

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