Astoria NYC: BareBurger

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Clockwise from top left: Bareburger's corner location has roll-up garage doors for warmer weather (it was anything but warm last night); with solid, wood tables and designery metal chairs, the interior has a sort of rustic-modern feel; the Jalapeño Express burger (with Piedmontese beef). [Photographs: exterior, Adam Kuban; interior, bareburger.com; burger, Adam Kuban]

BareBurger

33-21 31st Avenue, Astoria NY 11106 (33rd/34th streets; map); 718-777-7011; bareburger.com
The Short Order: Sustainorganica burger joint that serves a wacky variety of options for your burger patty; AHT prefers the Original BareBurger with Piedmontese beef, but if you're not a purist, go for elk, bison, or ostrich meat. Burgers are smallish for what you pay, but you're paying for the provenance here
Want Fries with That? Yeah. The fresh-cut fries are crisp with a moist interior. The onion rings are good but not as good as the fries. Fries/sides are not included in the price but come at a discount if you order them with burger
Price: Original BareBurger, $8.95; Jalpeño Express, $9.95

Last week, Simon urged AHT to try Bareburger. Never one to ignore the wishes of an AHT reader — and because I recently moved to Astoria and it was easy for me to get to — I visited Bareburger last night.

Simon said:

It's an all-organic place, serving game meats (elk, ostrich) lamb, turkey, and fancy Piedmontese beef, with lots of variations as far as toppings go. You won't find a fast-food-style smashed burger there, and they don't have potato rolls. BUT, despite all that, I think you guys should check it out, I thought it was very very good. And although I'm a zealot for organic food, etc., as you know, I usually think fancy, cutesy organic burgers suck, because they end up straying too far from what a burger should be. I was very pleasantly surprised.

I agree with him. I was pleasantly surprised, too. The burgers served there are not my preferred style (smashed burgers); they are more fancy-pants with a touch of pub burger thrown in (mostly in the shape and thickness of the patty), but what my friend and I had last night were good.

We ordered an Original Bareburger (Monterey Jack, lettuce, tomato, raw red onion, and Bareburger sauce) and a Jalapeño Express (jalapeño Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, raw red onion, jalapeño sweet pepper relish, and horseradish dill mayo)—both with Piedmontese beef as the patty. (I'm not into elk, ostrich, bison, or other nonbeef burger meats; that stuff, to me, IS NOT A BURGER.)

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The Original Bareburger. [Photograph: Adam Kuban]

The Piedmontese beef is flavorful and rich. Juicy enough. And there's some nice searing and a good amount of crust on it to lend it some texture.

As you can see, there's a fair amount of stuff piled on these softball-size burgers (some folks might complain that you don't get a lot of burger for your money, particularly since they don't come with fries). I could probably do without all this stuff; it makes for a potentially sloppy burger — especially with the shredded lettuce, which slides out the back and sides in gloops of special-sauced messiness.

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The BareBurger autopsy. [Photograph: Adam Kuban]

We ordered medium-rare. It's hard to see here under the dim lighting, but they were cooked spot on. Good job, BareBurger!

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The Jalapeño Express. [Photograph: Adam Kuban]

The Jalapeño Express is basically the Original BareBurger but with jalapeño Jack cheese and spicy jalapeño relish. It was spicy without being overwhelmingly heatastic. But the spiciness of this one obscured the flavor of the beef. To be fair, BareBurger recommends ordering this one with the elk patty, but, well, SEE ABOVE. Maybe the gaminess of the elk would come through a little more. This one was also noticeably messier than the Original BB. Probably because it has the relish and mayo.

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[Photograph: Adam Kuban]

Yeah, I know it's not burger, but we (read I) couldn't resist trying the panko-breaded chicken sticks. (Pretty much anything panko catches my attention.) They were crisp and moist. And the dipping sauces, particularly the ginger one, are good.

The fries are fresh cut and pretty great — for fries. I'm not a huge fries fan, as you might know if you've read this blog for a while. I prefer onion rings. Here, the rings are good but the batter was a bit soggy and maybe a touch too greasy. Still, they're using whole-ring sliced onions as opposed to those horrible frozen diced onion things that you get at the major chains or at asstastic diners that just don't give a damn.

Based on this one visit, and for the Original BareBurger, I'd give this joint a hearty "recommend."

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