Divey and decadently delicious – A Review of Bill’s Bar and Burger

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Bill’s Bar and Burger
22 9th Avenue
Meatpacking District
212-414-3003/billsbarandburger.com

Bill’s Meatpacking decor

Bill’s Meatpacking decor

Although only opened for about a year now, Bill’s, nestled on the corner of 13th street and 9th Avenue, looks as if it has been serving up their sinful burgers for decades.  The interior is cozy and divey, complete with red and blue checkered tablecloths, industrial looking lighting and kitschy murals on the walls.  However divey this bar and restaurant may seem, it still manages to live up to the pressure of being hip due to its locale in the Meatpacking district.  Young, attractive bartenders and waiters are the ones serving up your beer and burgers.
Part of the Bill’s allure is the increasingly popular alcoholic milkshakes that can also be spotted at the likes of Mel’s and BLT Burger (burgers and milkshakes, anyone?).  The sickeningly sweet adult treats come in inventive flavors like the Campfire (made with toasted marshmallows) and the Toffee Coffee featuring Kahlua, Heath Bar, and butterscotch.  Each will run you about $11.

Disco fries at Bill’s

Disco fries at Bill’s

I most recently came to Bill’s for a birthday dinner, and Bill’s happily accommodated the group of 10, which was a little large for the small space.  We tried the famous disco fries ($4.50), topped with gravy and cheese and the sweet potato fries ($4.95) to start.  Ten hungry girls gobbled them up quickly.  The disco fries were the winner for me, the salty gravy soaking into the fries and the cheese adding another dimension of salty, gooey, goodness, but the sweet potato fries certainly had their fair share of fans also.

Bill’s Burger!

Bill’s Burger!

I kept my main simple, opting for the Bill’s Burger ($6.95) (a cheese burger with special sauce) and an order of the onion rings ($5.95) to share.  The burger came out piping hot, dripping with juice.  The special sauce added a hint of flavor and kick to the burger, and although I probably wouldn’t want to dip my fries in it, I would have missed it on the burger if it wasn’t there.  I fell in love with the onion rings.  Thinly sliced and beer battered, the tender, golden rings melted in my mouth and I found myself having trouble remembering to share.

I also had trouble remembering that Bill’s is a part of the B.R. Guest restaurant family.  With glitzy counterparts like Ruby Foo’s and Blue Fin it was hard to imagine that the oh-so neighborhood-y Bill’s was owned by the same parent company.  Bills’ second location in Rockefeller Center seems a bit more appropriate with a more contemporary feel, which just goes to show that B.R. Guest knows exactly what to do and where to do it.

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Divey and decadently delicious – A Review of Bill's Bar and Burger

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Bill’s Bar and Burger
22 9th Avenue
Meatpacking District
212-414-3003/billsbarandburger.com

Bill’s Meatpacking decor

Bill’s Meatpacking decor

Although only opened for about a year now, Bill’s, nestled on the corner of 13th street and 9th Avenue, looks as if it has been serving up their sinful burgers for decades.  The interior is cozy and divey, complete with red and blue checkered tablecloths, industrial looking lighting and kitschy murals on the walls.  However divey this bar and restaurant may seem, it still manages to live up to the pressure of being hip due to its locale in the Meatpacking district.  Young, attractive bartenders and waiters are the ones serving up your beer and burgers.
Part of the Bill’s allure is the increasingly popular alcoholic milkshakes that can also be spotted at the likes of Mel’s and BLT Burger (burgers and milkshakes, anyone?).  The sickeningly sweet adult treats come in inventive flavors like the Campfire (made with toasted marshmallows) and the Toffee Coffee featuring Kahlua, Heath Bar, and butterscotch.  Each will run you about $11.

Disco fries at Bill’s

Disco fries at Bill’s

I most recently came to Bill’s for a birthday dinner, and Bill’s happily accommodated the group of 10, which was a little large for the small space.  We tried the famous disco fries ($4.50), topped with gravy and cheese and the sweet potato fries ($4.95) to start.  Ten hungry girls gobbled them up quickly.  The disco fries were the winner for me, the salty gravy soaking into the fries and the cheese adding another dimension of salty, gooey, goodness, but the sweet potato fries certainly had their fair share of fans also.

Bill’s Burger!

Bill’s Burger!

I kept my main simple, opting for the Bill’s Burger ($6.95) (a cheese burger with special sauce) and an order of the onion rings ($5.95) to share.  The burger came out piping hot, dripping with juice.  The special sauce added a hint of flavor and kick to the burger, and although I probably wouldn’t want to dip my fries in it, I would have missed it on the burger if it wasn’t there.  I fell in love with the onion rings.  Thinly sliced and beer battered, the tender, golden rings melted in my mouth and I found myself having trouble remembering to share.

I also had trouble remembering that Bill’s is a part of the B.R. Guest restaurant family.  With glitzy counterparts like Ruby Foo’s and Blue Fin it was hard to imagine that the oh-so neighborhood-y Bill’s was owned by the same parent company.  Bills’ second location in Rockefeller Center seems a bit more appropriate with a more contemporary feel, which just goes to show that B.R. Guest knows exactly what to do and where to do it.

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Another day another burger – Review of Paul’s

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Paul’s
Da Burger Joint
131 2
nd Avenue
East Village
212-529-3033/paulsburgers.com

Although I had passed by Paul’s many times in my East Village romps over the years and thought to myself, ‘now that is a place I have to try some day’,  I had never been inside.  The perfect opportunity arose when a friend of mine suggested Paul’s for dinner one night.  I jumped at the chance and met him there on a crowded Friday night.

The service was slow and just accommodating enough to keep us seated.  Our waitress looked and acted like she had been waiting tables at Paul’s since it first opened in 1989, which was probably close to the truth as Paul’s is a family owned and operated establishment. He assured me that the burgers would be worth it and we requested a complementary bowl of their pickles.

Pickles at Paul’s

Pickles at Paul’s

The pickles were served in a bowl of their salty brine and were thick cut and crunchy.  It was hard not to gobble down the whole bowl before our burgers came out.

I decided on the St. Mark’s burger deluxe ($10.90), served with my choice of their Cajun fries.  The burger came piled high with sautéed mushrooms and fried onions over an American cheese burger.  The mass eye appeal left me drooling before I even got a whiff of its heavenly fried scent.  The burger was much too large to pick up as it was, so I cut it in half and was pleased to find a sinfully juicy center to bite further into.

St. Mark’s Burger at Paul’s

St. Mark’s Burger at Paul’s

The burger was everything that a fried onion, mushroom cheeseburger at a divey East Village burger joint should be.  It was a greasy, juicy, down and dirty, heart-attack on a plate.  The beef wasn’t the highest in quality with hard bits scattered throughout the patty, but I certainly walked away full and happy, if not a little sick.

Paul’s is advertised in neon lights outside the storefront as NYC’s Best Burger.  While I wouldn’t go that far, it certainly got the job done.  I might be back if I’m with the right company whose stomachs are made of steel, but until then I think I’ll stick with a burger that’s a little easier on the stomach.

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Just another burger – Review of Rare

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Rare
152 West 26th Street (Inside Fashion 26 Hotel)
Chelsea
212-807-7273/rarebarandgrill.com

Burger Trio at Rare

Burger Trio at Rare

I was expecting a steakhouse when I heard the name ‘Rare’, but was comfortable with the fact that it also alluded to a burger restaurant.  Located at the foot of the trendy Fashion 26 Hotel, Rare is dressed to impress with a sleek modern design punctuated with humor like the barbed wire motif on the staircase and walls and the huge “EAT” spelled out in knives on the wall of their lower level.

Although new and clearly very nervous, our waitress was friendly and accommodating along with the rest of the very attentive staff at Rare.  My friend Stephanie and I ordered the Parmesan truffle fries ($5) per our waitress’s recommendation, to start.  I was disappointed with my first taste of Rare, the fries seeming stale as if they were sitting under the (not so hot) heat lamp a little too long.  I also couldn’t help but to wonder where all the rich truffle flavor was hiding, or even where the Parmesan flavor was hiding.  I could certainly see the parm, but had a hard time finding the flavor.

Parmesan truffle fries at Rare

Parmesan truffle fries at Rare


I decided I absolutely had to try the Burger Trio ($15), 3 sliders of the chef’s choice to truly experience all that Rare had to offer (at least as much as I could in one meal!).  The trio came with a lightly dressed salad and fries, a good value for what it was.  On the chef’s menu for the night were a pesto mozzarella burger, a caramelized onion and Gruyere, and a bacon cheese burger topped with a tangy, salty Spanish cheese.  The sliders were all surprisingly juicy right in the center of the patty, but the meat and toppings themselves didn’t impress, lacking some much needed punch.  The bacon cheeseburger was my favorite with the thick cut applewood smoked bacon adding a nice crunch and salt factor.
I don’t think I’ll be back to Rare, except maybe to grab a drink on their Rare View rooftop bar with a great view, but I’m glad I tried it out.  With so many burgers in The City, a burger is just a burger until proven great!

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Mel’s Burger delivers! – Review of Mel’s Burger

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Mel’s Burger
2850 Broadway
Morningside Heights
212-865-7100/
melsburgerbar.com

Mel's Burger, Morningside Heights, Manhattan

Mel's Burger, Morningside Heights, Manhattan

Mel’s Burger opened on August 26th.  The flickering neon sign reminiscent of Times Square circa 1940 is an inviting homage to what is now kitschy, old New York.  Located in the heart of Columbia University territory, I expected to see a flood of college kids swarming the place and perhaps a stale beer smell from nights past.  Instead, I walked into a rather large restaurant with an interesting selection of clientele ranging from senior citizens to families with young children, to of course, Columbia students.  The interior was decked from head to toe in rustic wood and accented with fun elements like a black and white checkered floor, a large painting with the not-so-subliminal message “hamburgers delicious”, and the restaurant’s namesake spelled out in perfectly made-to-look-dingy lights.

The staff was energized and seemingly happy to be at work.  Their number 1 concern for the entire time I was there was that I was having fun and that I was trying out as many beers on their impressive, craft heavy, list as I could possibly muster.

Cadillac Burger (bacon and cheese) at Mel’s Burger

Cadillac Burger (bacon and cheese) at Mel’s Burger

Reading over the menu, with items ranging from their spiked milk shakes to their homage to the “original” Louis’ Lunch burger (let’s give credit where credit is due!) to the hand cut buffalo and disco fries and onion strings, I could tell that Mel’s really was all about having fun and enjoying food on a college student’s budget (burgers ranging from $8.50 to $12.50).

Fries and onion strings at Mel’s Burger

Fries and onion strings at Mel’s Burger

Also delicious at Mel’s, the French Dip!

Also delicious at Mel’s, the French Dip!

While the stale beer smell may come with time, and the staff might not always be so giddy for work, it is safe to say that as long as they don’t change the special spice blend they use for their burgers and the recipe they use for their delicious french fries, Mel’s will be a staple in the lives of many Columbia students and the residents of Morningside Heights for years to come.

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What every burger experience should be – Review of Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien
119 W 56th Street
Midtown West
212-708-7414/parkermeridien.com

Cheeseburger at burger joint

Cheeseburger at burger joint

Nestled down a short, unsuspecting hallway in the lobby of the Le Parker Meridien; identified only by a neon sign depicting a hamburger, stood Burger Joint.  Walking into the place for the first time, I really didn’t know what to expect.  In fact, I wasn’t really expecting anything.  However, I was still surprised to find a cramped room filled to the brim with suits, scarfing down burgers and fries like it was their job in digs no fancier than your average dive bar.  [Read more...]