Little Barn

1050 Post Rd EWestport, CT 06880 • (203) 557-8501 • littlebarnct.com

I dig the roadhouse vibe of this place, but unlike the Patrick Swayze movie, this one dispenses with the bikers and the topless women and replaces them with a setting that’s civil enough to take the kids. Service is also kid-friendly and attentive. Making it a solid go-to for a family dinner with the young’uns.

I partook in the Shroom Burger, which I have to say was very good. Everything you would want, but nothing more than you might expect. Served with decent helping of sweet potato fries that’ll hit the spot.

The fish tacos were messy as all get out and lacking in the salsa/heat department, but the fish was perfectly cooked, so at least there’s that. Not the place I would go for Tex-Mex though when you’ve got Bar Taco just up the road.

For beer, I tried the Mama’s Yella Pils, a Czech inspired pilsner that could use a little more inspiration, because it ain’t no Urquell or Staropramen.

Hit and miss for certain, but I’m definitely a fan… in the right context.

Schnippers

23 E 23rd St. New York, NY 10010(212) 233-1025 schnippers.com
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While it’s no Shake Shack, the food isn’t half bad and the line is MUCH shorter. Plus, let’s be honest, Shake Shake isn’t what it once was and I’m not just saying that because it’s currently a construction site.

But enough about the Shack, let’s talk about Schnippers, because apart from the name, which sounds like a slang term for a woman’s sexy bits, it’s actually surprisingly good, depending on what you get.

Oh, and the décor does look a lot like a giant fast food warehouse, akin to the ones you find along interstate rest stops. But apart from that…

Among the stars are the salads, believe it or not. The fig & bleu in particular is pretty damn good. Caramelized figs, apples, walnuts, bleu cheese, croutons and vinegarette. Better than most places that specialize in Just Salad.

Another shout out goes to the onion rings. Nice and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The way the lord intended. And yes, if the lord can care about football, then the way I see it, he can care about onion rings too.

The sweet potato fries are also pretty on point. Especially with the maple dipping sauce, which I found to be a better compliment that many of its peers.

The sloppy joe is a nice, cheap novelty as well, taking me back to my teenage years, which is probably the last time I had one. But muscle memory (the tongue is a muscle after all) didn’t forget, picking up right were my last rendezvous of sloppiness left off.

On the lesser side of impressive would be the turkey burger, which I found to be just okay. As were the regular fries, which lived up to their regular name.

So my advice, look past the décor and the name people. She’s got it going on. Not like Stacy’s mom or anything, but if you’re craving a burger joint and you don’t feel like waiting in a 2-hour line, than you could do a lot worse.

3 teeth

 

Blue Smoke

116 E 27th St. New York, NY 10016(212) 447-7733 • bluesmoke.com/blue
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Having grown up in the psuedo-South (Flordia), I know that BBQ is a subject not to be taken lightly. So, in all seriousness, while Blue Smoke is great at some things they are so-so at many others. Basically what you might expect from a St. Louis boy like Danny Meyer. who seems to have never spent more time training in Italy and France than he has below the Mason-Dixon Line.

To help you navigate though the hits and misses, here are my thoughts:

The shrimp po’ boy is a solid good. Has some really nice kick to it and actually manages to best the pulled pork shoulder, which should easily be tops, but tends to be on the arid side, begging for sauce, which is always a cop out in the land of BBQ. Sure, the sauce needs to be great, but it shouldn’t be a moisture crutch.

Back on the plus side, the brisket is pretty damn skippy. I know a lot of people swear by Hill Country, which is also very good, but if you ask for the more marbled meat, you’re in for a fatty face filthin’ feast.

Another HUGE hit, which they sadly removed form the menu, are the sweet potato fries. Served in gigantic wedges the size of canoes and drizzled with a creme fraiche/sour cream that’s worth barging into the kitchen and demanding they whip you up a batch.

And last but not least, some clarity on pricing. Don’t listen to the Yelping consensus who seem to complain an awful lot about how expensive it is, but then categorize it as only $$. Make up your mind. This is why I left Yelp. Too many people with opinions that don’t agree with mine 🙂 Anyways, it’s no more expensive than you’d expect in the Flatiron. So, if you’re craving BBQ and this is closer than Hill Country, I say game on.

3 teeth

Westchester Burger Co.

106 Westchester Ave. White Plains, NY 10601 •  (914) 358-9398westchesterburger.com
353 N Bedford Rd. Mount Kisco, NY 10549 •  (914) 218-3200

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Please don’t take these three knives lightly. I mean these guys custom season every burger to match its accoutrements. And as a result, there are burgers on the menu that easily make their way into the four knife realm. The problem, is that there are a lot of two knife burgers as well. And the sweet potato fries that everybody raves about are just “eh.” If you really want sweet potato fries to rock your world, go to Blue Smoke in Manhattan. Also, the shakes, while good, get by more on the guilty add-ins as opposed to the ice cream base.

But back to some of those four knife burgers… Numero uno would be the Napa Burger- WOW! Almost every time I don’t get this, I regret it. Fortunately it’s too big for my wife to finish, so I usually get a few bites anyways. So what makes this burger so good it guaranteed a return visit all on its own? Well, first, they marinate the patty in a Zinfandel sauce and top it with goat cheese and watercress- all aboard a sweet brioche bun. It’s somethin’ special.

Another high would be the Ba Da Bing, made with spicy Italian sausage, as opposed to ground beef, broccoli rabe, provolone, balsamic glaze all atop a focaccia bun. It’s quite inventive and quite good.

And coming in third for me would be the lamb burger served with squash and zucchini, a yogurt sauce and once again, focaccia. They can go a little crazy with the sauce on this one, so I’d recommend asking them to go light or to put it on the side.

In the middle of the road would be their namesake, the TWC – their classic with a twist, or as I like to call it, a high end Whopper. Good, but nothing I would ever order again.

Same goes for the Graziella, The Balboa and The Firehouse. Just nothing about any of them makes a big enough impression to make it worth ordering again. Especially the Firehouse. I mean with a name like that, you’re expecting some heat. C’mon, break out the habaneros or jalapenos or chili peppers- hell, break out something other than just chili.

Service was friendly and fast and they are always great with the kids. Decor is nothing THAT special, however. Not sure why so many people rave about how cool it is. Guess they don’t spend much time in the city… or at Chipotle. It’s not bad, don’t get me wrong, but it’s pretty normal by my standards. Like a Chipotle.

3 teeth

Umami Burger

500 Broadway Santa Monica, CA 90401(310) 451-1300umamiburger.com

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At first I didn’t get it. I mean one bite of their veggie burger and you will most likely exclaim the same baffled response as I did, “What is all the hype about?!”

Granted, I didn’t have any of the meat burgers, but that veggie burger was pretty lame. Mushy and tasted a bit like dog food. I also had the smushed potatoes because they looked good at the table next to me. Unfortunately they were about as flavorless as the burlap sack they once came in.

On a positive note, the presentation is good. But with In and Out is just minutes away down Lincoln I wasn’t about to rush back. Fortunately a friend convinced me to give it a second go on one the meat burgers, so I rolled the dice.

Yahtzee! Okay, so I was wrong. Well, sort of. I still standby the fact that everything I had that first visit was indeed shameful, but what I ordered that time was also miserably wrong.

This time I went with the Truffle burger and the sweet potato fries and both were VERY good. As was the pickled plate (an assortment of, you guessed it, all things pickled). Also, they had one of my favorite beers on tap, Allagash White. So, I guess we learned a lesson today, Umami and I… That everyone, even burger places, deserve a second chance.

3 teeth