Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Burger Club Blows it Out of the Water
While it seems surreal, last week I embarked on a crazy awesome food adventure with fellow foodies, Bradley of amuse*bouche blog, Meg of Harmonious Belly and We Heart Astoria and new friend Stella from Tumbler blog, Queens Love. Together, we made an interesting quartet of enthusiastic foodies, ready to take on the ever-so-gluttonous world of burgers at Burger Club on 30th Avenue and 32nd Street.
Bradley ever so graciously set up the tasting, and because of him, we got to try nearly everything on the menu. And by nearly, I'm being literal, as I couldn't believe how much we actually tried. The below showcases my highlights of the meal, and even though I may not have written about literally every dish we tried, there was nothing we had that wasn't scrumptious and totally appetizing.
Fun and casual are the first two words that pop into my head when I think of the Burger Club. It's done quite the transformation since being my beloved Pinocchio's Palace, where the interior was a somewhat compartmentalized space. Here at Burger Club, everything is open and spacious, and I adore the way they've opened up the front and the side of the space through retractable garage doors. They keep them open during nice days, creating a pleasant breeze, and we were lucky to experience this open-air effect on the night of our tasting. I think everyone loved it, especially since it really makes you feel like part of all the action on 30th Avenue, so even though you're technically inside, you're never missing a beat.
The seating is varied and suitable for all types of parties including couples but also large groups, through the use of their lovely communal tables. We got to sit at one of these during our tasting, which was smack in the middle of the restaurant, so aside from having enough room to spread out, it was also perfect for people watching.
I loved that we really got the full experience, getting to taste multiple items from all parts of the menu, including apps, a salad course, burgers galore and even dessert. My favorite courses were the first two - apps and salad - as I'm more of a small plates/sharing girl, but the burgers were very tasty and quite large. Here are my various shining stars of the night.
Appetizers - We sampled a total of 6 apps, including the quesadillas, mozzarella fritters (pictured above), braised short ribs with hand-cut fries, flash-fried chicken strips, buffalo chicken wings and homemade nachos. Sheesh...that's a lot! It was hard to choose a favorite, but the nachos and the quesadillas of all things really stood out. I loved the former mostly because of the amazing freshness and crunchy texture of the homemade tortilla chips. We munched on them sporadically throughout the evening and even after a few minutes of sitting out, they never got soggy, even though they were fully loaded with goodness such as cheese, meat, veggies and more.
The quesadilla was a winner too, as it contained the same braised short ribs that were also on the frites you see above. Even though both options were delicious, the former really married the meat well with a smoky cheese blend, and wrapped it all up in a light flour tortilla that made it easy and fun to eat.
Salads - Although you wouldn't be expecting much out of the salad course, it was one of my favorites, showcasing two types of salads - the club and the roasted beet. Both were spectacular but the winner in my book (and in my dining companion's opinion too) was the Club. This was no ordinary club salad, as its flavor was elevated with sophisticated components such as candied walnuts, roasted peppers (same ones as used on the cheese fritters above), dried cranberries and a sweet balsamic vinaigrette. It was a more luxurious version of this classic salad dish, and I could've polished off a whole portion myself.
Burgers - There were so many varieties to choose from that I was slightly overwhelmed, but not to worry, I got to try nearly everything. Five of the choices included traditional beef patties and the remaining two were fish alternatives, one salmon burger and the other yellowfin tuna. But the most attractive burger for me was the Brunch burger with bacon, cheese and a fried egg on top. I've tried a version of this before at Sweet Afton and loved it, but the Burger Club surely didn't disappoint.
In addition to the Brunch Burger, the Frenchy with foie gras, sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions was also a winner. The mushrooms were the best part, as they were chunky and seemed to be flavored with truffle oil. A top-notch aspect of each burger was the brioche bun, which was light, fluffy, buttery and eggy too. The fish burgers boasted whole wheat buns, which was a nice change that lightened things up.
Dessert - After all this gluttony, I can't believe we put another morsel of food in our mouths, but we sure did. The four tiered chocolate cake was da bomb - rich, moist and chocolatey to the max. Rich ganache melded the cake together, and elevated its decadence further through a luxuriously bittersweet flavor. I highly recommend a tall glass of water with this dessert - you'll thank me later.
Service and Cost:
Treated with care and attention, the waitstaff at Burger Club is really nice and super knowledgeable about everything. Our waitress had everything down pat, including knowledge about how they prepared the food, where it came from and such - I was impressed. The steady influx of customers throughout the evening also showcased that this place has done well for itself in the past 5 months since opening.
Costs are moderate and absolutely on par with competitors such as Sweet Afton and Bare Burger:
Salads & Appetizers - $7.25 - $9.25
Burgers & Sandwiches - $7.75 - $11.75
3 Meaty Mmmms
Burger Club - 32-02 30th Avenue, Astoria NY 11102
N/Q Train to 30th Avenue