It’s seldom I meet a burger that I don’t, at least, like. So when I got wind a few months ago that a joint called BRGR Bar opened its second location (after Portsmouth, New Hampshire) in downtown Portland, I made plans to get lunch there faster than you can say “hold the tomato.”
A couple of weeks ago, my spouse, Tracy, and our out-of-town friend Joan met me there at about noon on a Monday and I, per usual, walked in starving and ready to devour the first thing that was put in front of me.
We grabbed a booth, were presented with menus and I quickly found myself in a happy place perusing the mouth-watering options, including the OO-Mommy (beef patty topped with Gorgonzola, beer-battered onion rings, bacon and onion jam for $14), the Nashville Hot (spicy fried chicken, cheddar cheese, house-made pickles and coleslaw for $12) and the Up In Smoke (bison burger with smoked Gouda, applewood-smoked bacon, grilled red onion, avocado, bourbon barbecue sauce, lettuce and tomato for $17).
Ultimately, I opted for what is surely the most popular menu item, a magnificent creation simply called The BRGR. It’s two thin Maine Family Farms patties (all of their beef is from local farms), bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and secret sauce for $13.50. Side options are fries or a house salad. I don’t actually have to tell you which side I ordered, do I?
When said burger was delivered I shot my dining companions a look that said, “Don’t talk to me for the next 12 minutes, I’m about to enter the Devour Zone.” And, I must say, said look was warranted, as this burger was a righteous feast of multiple flavors cooked to perfection and good to the last morsel, because I, of course, ate the entire thing, which was no small feat. The fries were only so-so, but that hardly mattered, I wasn’t there for the fries. This was a mighty fine burger, and I can’t wait to get back for another one. It’s entirely possible I might not order anything else from the menu, so smitten I am with The BRGR. I have no idea what was in the secret sauce and don’t need to know, but it was tasty so that’s good enough for me.
Now, on to my lunch dates. Joan opted for the What the Duck, which is a duck patty topped with fried kale, goat cheese and blueberry bacon jam for $14. Although she said it was a bit on the messy side, she also said that true duck lovers will forgive that because no one wants to eat dry duck. Joan wondered why they bothered with the kale because it immediately lost all crispiness on top of the juicy duck. But what I really envied was Joan’s choice of beverages.
Since she had nowhere to be but on a plane later that day, Joan turned to the “adult” milkshake menu and ordered exactly what I would have gotten, if I was still eating sugar and didn’t have to go back to work that day. The Thin Mint ($11) is brownie bits, chocolate syrup, rum and peppermint schnapps, and it looked glorious. Joan said it was terrific and that she was glad she asked for a spoon to scoop up the brownie bits that sank to the bottom.
As for Tracy, she ordered the Earth Burger (fried quinoa and lentil veggie patty with sautéed portobellos, walnut pesto, lettuce and tomato relish served on a Gruyère-crusted bun for $12), and she went for the gold by ordering a side of sweet potato fries to go with it. Veggie burgers and I have never had a particularly close relationship, but I have to say, this one looked mighty fine. She reported that it was not too dense, and the Gruyère cheese crusted roll added a nice crunch. Although she doesn’t always like pesto, in this instance, she said, it was a “great addition adding freshness and zing.” Tracy also gave high marks to the perfectly cooked sweet potato fries. We all agreed the atmosphere was a little stark, but we were there on a Monday. It’s easy to imagine BRGR Bar being a swinging hot spot on the weekends.
My belly and I say, “Welcome to Portland, BRGR Bar.” We’ll both see you again soon.
WHERE: 11 Brown St., Portland, 835-0786, brgr-bar.com
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday
WAIT: 10 to 15 minutes
PARKING: On street
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes