Bar Symon

1000 Airport Blvd. Coraopolis, PA 15108 • (412) 472-5067unitedconcessionsgroup.com

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I know many of you probably feel like airport food should either be removed entirely from my blog or receive some type of special dispensation, but I have had enough good airport meals in my day to respectfully disagree. Sure it’s the exception to the rule, but the purpose of my blog isn’t to review the top restaurants of the now, it’s to help you, my readers, know which places are all that, or all hype. Especially when you’re a captive audience like at an airport.

So, should you find yourself with time to kill and hunger to satiate, upstairs in the Delta Terminal in Pittsburgh you will find Bar Symon, which looks more like a burger and shake joint from the 50’s than a bar if you ask me, but I cared little about such things since I was gunning for a burger and a shake.

On the menu you will find loads of options, mostly in the way of burgers, two of which apparently won awards at the SOBE Food & Wine Festival. So, naturally I went straight into the eye of the storm, ordering up one of the two, the Fat Doug Burger (pictured), topped with pastrami, Swiss, coleslaw and stadium mustard, all on a challah bun. And while it sounds hillacious, it is more SOSO, if you ask moi. However, I got a little tip for ya… On your table is a bottle of their homemade coffee barbecue sauce and if you put that on your burger, look out! Hell, if you accidentally get some on your finger look out, because you’re liable to gnaw the thing off. Easily one of the best BBQ sauces I’ve ever laid buds on. Goes on everything. Even the rosemary fries, which are good, but in the BBQ sauce- amazing.

But Symon says don’t stop there. They also make a crazy good homemade ketchup with some serious heat to it. Another worthy addition to both the burgers and the fries, but not quite at the same level of wowness as the coffee sauce.

And while we’re on the subject of coffee, the other thing I had was their espresso chocolate shake mixed with a little vanilla because that’s how I roll. The good news is that it’s served up insanely think. So much so that they need to use a straw so big it’s like wrapping your lips around a PVC pipe. Sadly though, both the creaminess and sweetness are a bit lacking, making it surprisingly bland, which is not something you want in a shake. After all, if you’re gonna be putting your waistline out there, you want it to be worth the ride.

So I am quite torn here. Without sauce this is undoubtedly a two knifer. But with the sauce it’s easily a three. Decisions…decisions…  Am I feeling generous today? Or ferocious?

2 teeth

 

5 Napkin Burger

211 Market St. Yonkers, NY 10710 • (212) 496-20315napkin.com

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If you’re doing the Ridge Hill thing and you find yourself (and/or family) craving a burger joint, you now have two options to choose from. Elevation and 5 Napkin. And while that is technically true, as far as I’m concerned you still have zero options, and you’re better off driving to White Plains for 5 Guys or Westchester Burger Co. (the Napa Burger blows this place away).

That said, 5 Napkin is better than Elevation, but unfortunately that’s not saying much. And speaking of not saying much, I don’t have many compliments in store for 5 Napkin, so if you’re a fan, start warming up your rebuttal.

The décor, as others have stated, is casual, yet cool (probably the best thing about this place) and the service, as pointed out by many, is slow. Granted not quite as bad as the rap made it out to be, but certainly not about to break any land-speed records either.

On the burger front, they most definitely live up to their name, proving to be a complete and total mess. Unfortunately that’s also true on a culinary level. The Original Burger is over sauced to the point of greasy and off-putting, and the patty itself was served rare as opposed to medium rare, as ordered.

The veggie burger was better, made with an unusually predominate beet ratio, turning the patty a novel shade of red. On the downside, the bun they use is way too dense for the softer patty and it winds up squeezing out through the sides every time you bite into it, like pink Playdoh in a garlic press.

The French fries that come with the burgers are basic and nothing to speak of, so if you were hoping for twist in plot, sadly this story is only one note. I do, however, recommend substituting the fries with the cheddar tots. They are slightly better. But, if you want truly great tots, head over to Melts in Armonk. And while you’re at it, try their Wisconsin Patty Melt too. You will be very pleasantly surprised. It’s one of the better under-the-radar “burgers” in Westchester.

And while some people might think I’m just getting my jollies throwing places like this under the bus, it couldn’t be further from the truth. I just don’t like when things are misrepresented on Yelp, so I feel the need to be the balancing wheel. Even if it stings. And sting this did, because I was sincerely looking forward to this place opening up, but sadly, I have to give 5 Napkin just two knives.

2 teeth

Squires

 218 N State Rd. Briarcliff, NY 10510 • (914) 762-3376squiresofbriarcliff.com

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I’ve heard a lot of people swear by this burger, but after the debacle at The Blazer Pub I was very skittish, regardless of the 3-time Best of Westchester crownings. Sorry BOW, but you’re about as reliable as Yelp.

Upon entering, the crowd didn’t make me feel much better, loaded with geriatrics to the point where I could’ve sworn I was on the set of the film Cocoon 3. But as depressing as the fogey-fest was, I was more unnerved by the fact that this place belongs somewhere in the middle of the dessert along Route 66 where drifters sign up for contract killings. So feeling like Dorothy in the Land of Oz, I ordered up a pint of Stella and the Cheese Supreme Burger.

The Stella on tap was on point and the service was very friendly- in fact, even the burger is definitely good on a purist level, but best in Westchester? It’s not even in my top three. The Inn at Pound Ridge, Melts and the Napa Burger at Westchester Burger Co. all trounce the Cheese Supreme, which was a supreme disappointment initially. So much so that I had my server fetch some jalapenos stat, to resuscitate some life back into the mozzarella, cheddar and Swiss trio of tastelessness. Luckily it worked. And perhaps I’m to blame for listening to the recommendations of my waiter and Yelper’s alike, but then again, it’s more fun to blame them. And while I’m at it, the friggin’ bun was about 30% too small for the patty. I hate that. It makes me what to hire a contract killer and take out the reviews that touted this place. Hmmm… Perhaps I am in the right place after all?

2 teeth

Bar Suzette

Chelsea Market 425 W 15th St. New York, NY 10011, Chelsea(917) 727-2169

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I know this place is technically a creperie, but having admired this burger from afar for several years, I finally bit the bullet (and the burger, obviously), going all in on Suzette’s crown jewel of overloaded meat. But did I stop there? Oh no. I went truffle fries too! Oh yes. And so close to bikini season too! Because I live on the edge people. You want Timid Foodie, you go elsewhere.

As a name, the Park Royal (pictured) just sounds amazing, right? In fact, the moment I laid eyes on that chalkboard menu I was in. Topped with caramelized onions, bacon, cheese and a fried egg, all stacked on a brioche bun, the Royal isn’t exactly breaking the mold in terms of inventiveness, but they stick the landing on proportions, so the flavor nets out pretty bang-on. It’s messy as all get out though, so move over 5 Napkin, I easily burnt through twice that on this puppy.

And speaking of burning through things, I normally don’t finish my fries because I’m either too full or feeling too guilty to do so, but these were so good I dug deep and closed the deal. Good thing “dad bod” is en vogue, otherwise I’d be Park Royally screwed.

3 teeth*And a half

Five Guys

240 Main St. White Plains, NY 10601 • (914) 422-3483 • fiveguys.com

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Dear 5 Guys,

Lose the peanuts and spend the money on shakes. What kind of burger joint doesn’t have shakes? It’d be like a raw bar serving up shrimp cocktail without cocktail sauce!

That MAJOR gripe aside, the burgers themselves are pretty good. In fact, a lot of East Coasters even claim them to be the In n’ Out Burger of the East. Granted most of those East Coasters are either delusional or simply mind-fucking themselves into believing it, but even with all the wishful thinking in the world, comparing them to the likes of In n’ Out is a VERY generous bridge too far. I mean sure, it’s great that the burgers are better than Burger King, and I’m even happy to give 5 guys the upper hand when it comes to their fries (light years better than the cardboard crap at In n’ Out), but I’d take a Double Double Animal Style any day over 5 Guys. Which brings me to my second major gripe, I don’t like burger places without a point of view. As Ego would say in the movie Ratatouille, “give me some perspective.” I hate “make your own burger” places. If I wanted to make my own burger I would’ve done it AT HOME! I came to you because I just wanted to pick out something interesting off of a menu. Ideally a combination of things that I wouldn’t have thought of.

So, with these two major dings going against it, 5 Guys is definitely not getting 5 Knives.

3 teeth

The Blazer Pub

440 Rt 22 Purdys, NY 10578 • (914) 277-4424theblazerpub.com

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I think legislation needs to be passed to hold Yelpers accountable for gross negligence of opinion. I mean to call this burger the “best burger in Westchester” is criminal. Worse still, some dolt actually went so far as to say “in the world.” Yes, maybe in your tiny little world that stretches from Purdy to Croton to Yorktown Heights, but in the ACTUAL world, this burger is terrorism on a bun.

For starters, the meat itself is egregious. Dry, overworked and overcooked, crumbling apart like Tom Brady’s alibi. Plus, the patty is way too small for the hard roll they serve it on, throwing the balance completely off. Well, that would’ve been the case had there been any semblance of balance to begin with, because all of the proportions are FUBAR on the Blazer Burger (pictured). Too much of everything except the actual burger itself, drowning in caramelized onions, a thick, flavorless beefsteak tomato, jarred pickles, crispy bacon and romaine.

The Celsius Burger might’ve been even worse, because it didn’t even have the benefit of syphoning moisture off of the onions. Luckily I had a plethora, so I shared. Otherwise I think we would’ve eaten even less than we actually did.

Oh, and speaking of not finishing, don’t even get me started on the “French Fries.” Basically a pile of two by fours made of potato with zero seasoning. We ordered a medium plate for four people and after we were finished there was still enough fries to serve our leftovers as a medium portion to four people, and that would’ve still been considered a large portion in my opinion.

The Guinness on tap is bitter, the lemonade is Snapple and the décor is a dump. Granted that’s intended to be part of its charm. It didn’t work (charmed would not be a word I would use to describe how I felt). About the only thing that was working at The Blazer was our waitress. No complaints on service. But why people flock here is beyond me. And flock they did. Gobbling up this dog food as if the antidote was in it. And perhaps it is, because you’d have to be sick to think this place is deserving of four stars.

1 tooth

The Billy Goat Tavern

430 N Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60611(312) 222-1525billygoattavern.com

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The best thing about this place by far is the SNL skit with John Belushi long ago. Now it’s just a bar clinging to its 15 minutes of fame way past the expiration date.

It’s located under Michigan Avenue. Yes, under and it reeks of the tourist trap that it is, complete with employees bellowing out “Cheezborger! Cheezborger!” in thick Greek accents every time someone orders a cheeseburger. Which is fun for the first five seconds and after that becomes the verbal equivalent of water droplets in a Chinese torture chamber.

On the plus side, having these burgers at your beckon call while you drink is sort of like having a White Castle that serves booze, so kudos there. Beyond that, there isn’t much else to it apart from the historic novelty of the infamous “Curse.”

As the legend goes, back in 1945 during Game 4 of the World Series, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern went to attend the game at Wrigley Field with his actual pet goat. Shockingly, and by that I mean “not shocking, “ the owners of Wrigley Field turned him away due to the smell of said goat. Insulted, the Billy Goat Owner placed a Greek curse on the Chicago Cubs, barring them from ever returning to the World Series again. And while this may sound like a bunch of malarkey, 70 years later the curse appears to still be standing strong, whereas the Cubs, not so much.

2 teeth

Burger & Lobster

39 W 19th St. New York, NY 10011 • (646) 833-7532burgerandlobster.com

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It’s a very fun concept. Just three items on the menu: a burger, a half lobster or a lobster roll. Each for twenty dollars and each served with fries and a salad. Which makes it an ideal experience for the indecisive.

It’s also ideal for those who are claustrophobic because the dining room is massive. How big is it? Well let’s just say that if you should venture downstairs for a trip to the WC, you will pass through a second, much smaller dinning room that, if it were a stand alone restaurant unto itself, would also be considered a huge dining area.

In terms of food, however, that’s where the good times end. This place is nowhere near the 4.5 stars it gets on Yelp. The only thing that I would give praise to would be the lobster roll. It’s done with a classic mayonnaise based dressing, but done lightly so it lets the lobster meat shine. Also, they nail it on the bun. Perfectly toasted and buttery.

And speaking of buns, the burger has an interesting one as well. Heavily seeded, adding a nice texture to every bite. Regretfully everything else between the bun is significantly less interesting. And, the burger was overcooked.

But how about those sides? Well, they are more smoke and mirrors than anything, making you feel like the $20 is a good value. However, when you discover that the salad is over-dressed and borderline inedible and that the fries are not even worth the jaw strength it takes to chew them, you come to realize that you just dropped twenty on a mediocre burger. So stick with the lobster options if you don’t want to feel cheated.

As for dessert, the options are also minimal according to theme. A chocolate mousse which I found to be pretty bad. Had one bite and done. And a raspberry cheesecake, which was definitely way more of a pudding than a “cake,” but at least it was worth eating.

2 teeth

 

Northpoint

Mitchell International Airport 5300 S Howell Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53207 • (414) 747-5300 • northpointcustard.com

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My god was this bad. And I mean really, really bad. Not one thing was good. Not the burger, the shake or even onion rings. The only thing that was just okay were the cheese curds, but even those leave you feeling gross.

I honestly would’ve preferred to eat the food on the plane, that’s how bad it was.

The shake was too icy. The meat was over-cooked, dry and flavorless. The ingredients tasted like GMO’s. And their ketchup is Hunt’s, which should tell you something right there- even their condiments sucked.

Just so atrociously, all-out bad. Did I say it was bad yet? Oh, I did? Sorry for beating a dead horse, but I’m only doing that because it was BAD.

So, again, in summation… it was B-A-D.

1 tooth

Barney’s Beanery

8447 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069(323) 654-2287 • barneysbeanery.com
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If Baskin Robbins decided to serve burgers instead of ice cream and to become a Hell’s Angel, this would be their restaurant. And I use the term “restaurant” loosely. The word “dive” is much more fitting. But the burgers aren’t bad. And the décor is certainly “interesting.” Perhaps a little out of place on the promenade to the point where it feels inauthentic, so if you’re gonna go, I recommend the original in West Hollywood. It’s the real deal. Plus, at that one they used to have live lingerie models on display once in a while as a nice added perk. I’m not a doctor or anything, but I believe it helps with digestion.

And while the novelty of Barney’s certainly has its merits, the burgers only hold up so much. If you truly want a bodacious bite on a bun, head to Father’s Office instead. There’s one in Santa Monica and Culver City.

But if you’re not in the mood for a burger, not to worry, Barney’s has tons of other options on their menu ranging from salads to sandwiches and pizza to Mexican. I can’t vouch for any of them, but they’re on the menu.

3 teeth