Sunday, October 11

Burger Bytes: Bobby's Burger Palace

I did not expect the neo-modern décor, family-style dining area or lime green-cushioned seats. Then again, I hit up Bobby's Burger Palace, chef Bobby Flay's "casual burger concept" what else would I expect? I did, however, expect the greasy, delicious experience that would ensue after I placed my order.

The Eatontown eatery (in the Monmouth Mall parking lot) opened last year and has since been a popular spot where fast food meets assumably gourmet preparation and high-quality ingredients. I finally got around to checking the place out last week. Through some friends, I heard the burgers were just OK, that the prices speak more than the actual food did. (I paid about $11 for a burger and fries, but more on that.)

Immediately upon entering through the glass doors, customers are ushered to the right, where a line forms to order from the somewhat mute cashier. (At least the one I experienced was. He definitely could have used some selling skills; I wasn’t even offered to order a drink with my food.) The menu is plastered on the wall, but it’s inconveniently located behind the line. There are smaller, paper versions of the menu that are easily accessed, so I grabbed one of those instead.

Bobby’s offers beef, ground turkey or chicken breast burgers. This is great, because many people don’t actually want to eat beef these days. After reading some of the news headlines, I wouldn't necessarily either, but I had to: I was at the "burger" palace. There are 10 burger varieties, and Bobby says, "any burger can be crunchified." Yea, I didn't go for the whole potato-chip-covered burger thing.

Rather, I went for the L.A. Burger ($7.50), medium (at left). It came with avocado relish, watercress, cheddar cheese and tomato (one tomato slice, to be exact). My watercress was forgotten, but that's OK. The avocado relish was delightful and really balanced out the insanely greasy cheddar cheese. And, my burger was perfectly cooked. This was impressive, especially considering the number of burgers that come out of the kitchen at any given point. (Customers are able to see into the kitchen via a rectangular window that sits at the far end of the dining room.) The burger was juicy. The bun was a bit disappointing and did not hold up to the burger and avocado combo. I like my buns slightly more toasted and substantial. And, as I said, one thin piece of tomato? We're in Jersey, Bobby, I want a real tomato.

I also ordered sweet potato fries ($3.00). They were pretty rad and varied, some exceptionally crisp while others actually had some substance to them. The fries are served with a honey Dijon sauce.

Other sides offered are regular French fries ($3.00) with BBP fry sauce and beer-battered onion rings ($3.00). And, Bobby has sandwiches and salads ($5.50 - $8.50). Not that you'd go to a burger place for a salad...

What I didn't get to sample were the milkshakes and malteds ($5.00 each). The several flavors (vanilla bean, dark chocolate, black and white, strawberry, blueberry-pomegranate, coffee, pistachio, mango, coconut and cola) sound amazing. Next time :)

In the dining room, service was excellent. There are a handful of waitresses who walk around, greet customers, bring cutlery and napkins, and serve the food. They make customers feel as if they're in an actual restaurant. Which, in the end, I guess I was. (The swanky lighting is dimmer than most industrial, fluorescent lighting in fast-food joints. And, on the wall, microscopic views of tomatoes and onions. Fancy schmancy.)

Overall, a very pleasant experience. Definitely worth another trip for a different burger (maybe turkey?), and a milkshake, for sure.

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