March 2013: Bainbridge St. Barrel House

The March edition of the Burger Club was hosted by Bainbridge Street Barrel House, a relatively new gastropub in Queen Village.  Our visit was timely, as Craig LaBan just released his own opinion of the place- unfortunately, a “hit or miss” review.  However, he did have one relevant point: “…the message was clear: The best bets here come on a bun.”  Lucky for us, burgers come on a bun.

Source

The new (or rather, rehabbed) space is definitely beer-centric, with a long bar and equally long beer list.  However, members of the Club were given plenty of tables to fit our small crowd- a comfortable and well-lit, spacious neighborhood restaurant.


We also had plenty of options: four specialty burgers, one pork burger, and one veggie burger (falafel).  While I usually make choices based on adventurous toppings, I was in the mood for a simple burger done right… probably an after-effect of the extreme uniqueness of last month’s burger at Ela.  Thankfully, BSBH offers the “purists’ burger,” a simple sandwich of the house ground beef (8 oz patty), a melted layer of cheddar cheese, and a smear of mayo on a brioche bun ($10).

The bun was a tad on the “bready” side, but it held up well to its fillings and had that shiny, seeded surface for which I will continue to express lots of love. The meat itself was certainly the star, a thick but loosely packed patty with lots of flavor from both seasonings and a little char from the grill.  My medium-rare request came out a little closer to medium (the house temperature of choice), but it was still juicy without being greasy.  The mayo helped counter the dryness of the brioche.  I also loved being able to swap out my fries for a side salad- a mix of romaine, red peppers, crunchy cukes and an avocado based dressing.

The eponymous “Barrel House Burger” is much more of a beast- they really load on the toppings here. This signature burger starts out with the same patty + bun (which is appreciated here to hold everything together!) but adds the following: Muenster cheese, bacon, grilled onions, a house-made IPA-infused mustard, and a super chunky Habanero/cucumber relish.  At $12, this is really on the lower end of the price-range for outrageous burgers in Philly.  They’re very generous with the bacon and cheese, but we found the cucumber relish to be a little.. weird. Cucumbers on a burger? I get that it’s a “relish” but… smaller pieces at least, please.

A bit of a step-down from the Barrel House, but still a whopping sandwich, is the Sally Smothers ($13).  I have no ideas regarding the origin of the name, but I can only imagine it has something to do with the fact that the patty here is smothered with sharp provolone, crispy fried pancetta, fried shallots, and the most precariously perched over-easy egg yolk I’ve ever seen.  Seriously, this thing was hanging onto the edge of oblivion.  One bite and this Yelp-er describes it well- “your plate looks like a crime scene.”



 Another notch down the “crazy scale” brings us to the Burger Meister ($13).  This guy simplifies life a little while still providing a few knock-out punches of flavor.  Crumbled blue cheese and a “raisin himbeer mostarda”– a fancy name for a mixture of caramelized raisins, a raspberry liqueur, and a mustard-flavored syrup– pair excellently, while a handful of spinach provides necessary freshness.

 

Spinach on the side.The not-really-a-burger category has one member- the Porkenstein ($15).  This is a SERIOUS sandwich, not for the fainthearted.  A 7 oz patty of ground pork starts us off, topped by a slab of pork belly and house cured ham.  Melted Monterey Jack cheese help separate the layers of pork, and the whole pile of pig is topped with a slightly radioactive-looking “secret sauce.”  I personally can not imagine consuming this, but I’m sure plenty of pork-lovers are rejoicing.  Our new Burger Club friend finished off the whole thing (and loved it!), so folks, it’s possible.

Our experience at Bainbridge St. Barrel House was pretty great.  We did have a long wait for our burgers, but we understand that there are space limitations in a kitchen, and chefs typically don’t need to make 25+ burgers all at once.  The staff was apologetic (head chef even tweeted a personal apology for the wait) and took good care of us while we waited.  Everyone seemed to enjoy their meal (burgers were super solid!) and of course we always love catching up with the Burger Club crew.  See you guys in a few weeks!

625 S. 6th St