By Laura Brown, NYU
Location: 535 Laguardia Place
Cuisine: Organic Classic
Outdoor Dining: Yes
Take Out: Yes
Best For: Brunch, Lunch or late night Munch
Accepts NYU Cards
The term “organic” can come with many preconceived ideas. As a kid, I always grimaced when my health-conscious mother brought home organic “treats” such as wheat-grass shakes or tofu banana puddings. If I had any residual disdain for organic dishes, Bare Burger has eradicated my juvenile notion that taste had to be sacrificed for healthy, organic ingredients.
Bare Burger, first conceived in Astoria by six Greek brothers, has sprouted another branch in Greenwich Village. Upon arrival my boyfriend and I were graciously welcomed by manager Mischa Levine, who was to be our guide during the Tour de Force sampling of the lunch and dinner menu. We felt like gods to be fattened.
While the first batch of food was freshly being prepared, Mischa introduced us to the Bare Burger beer and wine selection. Almost all the beers and wines are organic or only lacking in the pricey authoritative seal. When it came to the wines, Mischa knew most all the vendors and which local communities the grapes were grown and harvested before distribution. For teetotalers there are also options of organic ice tea, organic lemon-lime lemonade and wide array of organic sodas.
My mouth moistened and stomach rumbled with Epicurean anticipation as trays of russet potato fries, chicken tenders, and flaky onion rings were first brought out with a haloed ring of dipping sauces. As wonderful as these fried appetizers were, they seemed to be more of a vehicle for trying all of the sauces. Some of my top favorites were the malsala ketchup, a smoky-sweet barbeque sauce that goes really well with the ostrich burger, the pesto mayonnaises, and agave nectar mustard.
Then came a promenade of sliders: trays of beef, turkey and ostrich burgers were compacted next to a chicken club sandwich and hot dog filling our booth with carnivorous wafting. The pairings of complimentary flavors in the burgers and sandwiches were indicative of a burger-artisan. The classic beef burger is the platonic representation of the ideal burger: tender meat, fluffy brioche role and a special sauce with the usual tomato and lettuce accoutrements. The chicken club sandwich gives a strong kick, Cajun style that is simultaneously balanced and cooled by creamy avocado wedges. My particular favorite, the turkey burger, has the smokiness of organic bacon coupled with the sweetness of a grilled pineapple ring.
What was most satisfying however during the meal was how animated Mischa was in detailing the background for most every ingredient. Why he chose particular vendors for the organic ice cream or where he was supplied the organic ketchup and agave sweetener flirting their chemical-free purity on the tabletops. He relished in the fact that all the meats were organic, prepared to order, and of the highest quality. The term organic became a dulcet, alluring golden ticket for consuming everything presented, sans guilt.
After courses requiring vigorous mastication, I was grateful that our last was purely liquid. A silver tray displayed old-fashion shakers, holding frothy-organic milkshakes. We sampled flavors of chocolate, pistachio, chocolate-raspberry, and “Steve’s Special” which was part chocolate, part vanilla, banana and peanut-butter all delicately combined by the Jedi-Master of Milkshakes: Bare Burger’s Steve.
This ethos of community applies not just to the food, but the overall atmosphere.
Even the adornments of the restaurant contain their own narrative: the storefront is a cheerfully refurbished yellow garage door, the wooden tables were garnered from excess driftwood and our booth was canopied with a glistening recycled milk bottle chandelier.
Admittedly, I went back two days later. And after a couple moments of sheepish gluttony, I eased back into the same booth with the feeling of comfortable chumminess. And that’s just the type of customer base Bare Burger will attract. Bare Burger’s menu is the type you want to woo repeatedly for dinner, lunch and even breakfast- not the late night quickie when anything in the realm of edible will suffice. The health devoted and foodies alike will find dishes to delight over and a restaurant to commit to.
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