THE UPSCALE BURGER joint is nothing new. But besides a well-used concept, Bamburger — which opened mid-May — has much to brag of: a stylish room, a first-rate wait staff and a kitchen of grilling gurus.
Horizontal pine planks along walls, exposed brick and bunches of dried grasses on ledges contribute a down-to-earth feel to the long, thin room that ends at a semi-open kitchen at the back.
Salads serve two purposes: as appetizers and as main course alternatives to burgers. From Caesar to Cobb to Thai tango salad (with lettuces, vegetables, mango and crispy noodles in peanut dressing), there’s something for every palate.
Spinach salad ($8.95) rings in at more than most burgers, but after a few crunchy mouthfuls, the reason becomes clear. A cornucopia of ingredients jostle for space in the shallow bowl, translating into a different taste with each bite.
But why digress on first courses when we’re all here for the burgers? Six variations to choose from: Bamburger, veggie, turkey, pork, chicken breast and bambamburger. Crisp lettuce and tomato plus thin rings of raw purple onion top the patties sandwiched by fresh, moist white or whole wheat buns.
Patrons customize creations by adding extra toppings from four categories (25 in all). Classic toppings such as pickles and hot banana peppers plus international flavours such as tzatziki and sauerkraut compete for attention with gourmet fixings like cranberry-apple sauce.
Expert charbroiling makes magnificent a one-third pound beef Bamburger ($7.95). This is a meaty beast, unspoiled by filler ingredients with less flavour. Two strips of maple bacon contribute sweet and salt, and buttery sliced button mushrooms add earthiness. Cheddar cheese sauce is just so-so, congealing just minutes after arrival.
Pork burger ($7.95) brings an equally delectable patty of lean, ground pork, also charbroiled and therefore moist. The taste, as would be expected, is milder than the beef and pairs well with the likes of provolone and sautéd onions.
Would you like fries with that? Absolutely! Or round out your burger with great (albeit storebought) grease-free onion rings, thin-cut sweet potato fries (perfectly prepared but a small portion), greens or Caesar salad for an extra buck.
We’ve heard rave reviews about Bamana pudding ($2.95), and yet we are still impressed: a deep bowl of cream-heavy custard suspending sweet sautéd banana slices over soft wafer. A phhhhhst of homemade whipped cream tops the retro, comfort food treat.
The service is bang on. Our waitress appeared when needed. Her comments about the menu enhanced our enjoyment, her easy friendliness felt genuine.
Ratings are on a scale of one to five stars