Note: If you're wondering where our usual Tuesday reviewer Nick Solares is, he's currently on vacation with limited Internet access (probably for the best so he can actually relax). Thankfully, Serious Eats member Philip Given, aka, Prairie, answered our cry for help and quickly brought us a review with some great photos. Take it away, Philip!
White Rose Bar & Grill
48 N Beaver Street, York PA 17401 (map); 717-848-5369; whiterosebarandgrill.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: A juicy patty, fresh veggies, and a fluffy bun make for a great burger.
Prices: Half-pound cheeseburger, $7.95; fries or onion rings, +$1
Few restaurant folks are able to say they are third generation owners, but Tom Sibel is one of them. Sibel's grandparents opened The White Rose Bar and Grill in 1933 in the form of a tiny sandwich shop. The once unassuming joint has evolved and grown into a York institution, consuming over half a city block. It calls York, Pennsylvania, its home, a small city nuzzled between Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore.
Their menu is a variety show of time tested favorites. Among their named specialties is their volcanic hot rocks (cook your own meat in a primal fashion), fresh made crab dip, crab cakes, and pit beef. Based on past experience, all of these dishes are good in their own way, but we AHT-ers know that sometimes you just want a burger, a slice of cheese, and a golden bun.
The burgers, all of which consist of a half pound of locally raised meat, range from the standard “build as you like” style all the way to the decadent hot crab dip and cheddar-covered Chesapeake Burger. The signature burger, aptly named the White Rose Burger, is a pulled pork barbecue and cheese sauce amalgamation. But for the purposes of this review, we decided to keep it simple.
We ordered their standard burger, medium rare, with cheddar cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato, and ketchup, accompanied by a side of onion rings. The first thing that jumps out at you about the burgers at White Rose is the height of the top half of the bun. No need to unhinge your jaw Crotalus adamanteus-style here though—the bun is soft, puffy, and overall a perfect match for rest of the burger. I could’ve done with one fewer slice of the nicely ripened tomato, but the lettuce and onion were perfectly portioned, fresh, and crisp.
The patty was hand formed and grilled to a proper temperature. The meat was packed loose enough to retain a good deal of juiciness, which contrasted nicely with the crispy grill marks on the outside. The cheddar cheese (sorry, Nick, I know I failed you here) was not overpowering and, unless you really love dairy with your beef, probably isn’t necessary at all.
With each burger you have the option of french fries, fresh potato chips, and onion rings. Having had the first two in past visits to the White Rose, we opted for the latter. To quote my dining companion: "You know how with some onion rings you bite and the entire onion comes out? These onions know their place in society. They stay right inside the batter."
In their simplest form, the burgers at White Rose Bar & Grill with the hand pattied and grilled beef, fresh veggies, and fluffy bun, are a major win. If you head into unfamiliar territory by adding crab dip or pork barbecue, you are on your own. If you ever find yourself in York and hungry for a burger, swing by the White Rose (and let me know that you are visiting!).