By Jim Ayres –
BuffBurger. The name had me scratching my head.
Does it have buffalo burgers? The giant steer on the rear wall kind of looks like one. But there’s no bison on this menu.
Are these the trendy “healthy hi-protein” burgers like the ones in Chelsea and WeHo, marketed to buff Boomer gym bunnies? I went online to find the names of these places, but they’re not open anymore! The trend died, leaving just a wan whiff of elk meat and fat-free baked cauliflower fries.
BuffBurger isn’t here to resurrect fads. They griddle their beef, they fry their fries, you fill your own soda cup with national soft drink products. It’s all by the book, paint by numbers, pay at the register.
Just don’t bring cash. Plastic only. And BuffBurger isn’t cheap. The shiny new space on West Alabama, the 44 Farms beef, Houston Dairymaids cheese and Slow Dough bread — they’re all factored into the prices. And that would be OK, if the burgers matched their pedigree.
They don’t. On a first visit, my basic BuffBurger came with lettuce, tomato, onion, house made pickle, and mayo. Cheese was extra (cheddar for me) as would have been bacon and any other sauce or topping. At 50 cents — $2 extra, each — there’s a strong nickel-and-dime vibe.
I ordered my burger medium (you can’t get any rarer than that). It arrived medium well and I didn’t have much time. I bit in, expecting goodness given early word from a friend. Instead, it was a bland, overcooked disappointment. The patty was lukewarm with little discernible flavor and the cheese wasn’t melted. Little juice, no ooze.
I’ll admit I really liked the pickle. But my truffle fries were a cold, soggy affair; the truffle oil only hit the tops of the fries and the Parmesan didn’t extend much further. I left thinking I was glad I had tried BuffBurger, but I wouldn’t be back anytime soon.
Then I got to thinking. Maybe it was the time of day (a slow midafternoon). Maybe I should have gotten something fancier. After all, one of the founders is from London, and they offer a Brit Burger with curry and two chutneys.
I went back. This time I went with the Mushroom Burger with Swiss, arugula and garlic aioli. Instead of fries I ordered a side salad. This time the burger had the little “medium” indicator stuck through the middle. But little else changed. The beef was the same parched puck as before. Filler may be involved. The cheese still wasn’t melted. And the salad needed salt.
At over $21 with drink, tax and tip, having to get up and grab salt from a bin full of tear-open packets is unacceptable.
BuffBurger’s staff is friendly and the space, though spare, is bright with white and kelly green. There’s some nice sidewalk seating. And for Montrose residents, it’s very convenient. I’m just hoping the food soon rises to the level of its surroundings.