Thursday, June 2, 2011

First Thoughts On BGR The Burger Joint

There is something distracting about a meal spent thinking about what I paid for each onion ring.

BGR The Burger Joint opened last month in Columbia, and it's a variation on the limited menu and counter service that has done so well for Five Guys, Elevation Burger and other small chains.

BGR's niche is quality.  Burgers are made to order.  They come in variations like lamb and tuna.  They serve sides like sweet potato fries and grilled asparagus.  It intends to sell good, unique food, which always attracts me in world where people could just open another Subway.

But it's hard to focus on the food when you paid more than $4.50 for six onion rings.

I'm trying to remember that BGR opened just a few weeks ago, and we may have walked in during the dinner rush.  But we paid almost $30 for two burgers, two sides, and one drink.  We also waited more than 20 minutes.  So I just couldn't help noticing that my "Cuban" burger had been cooked too far, then left to cool.


I'd ordered it medium.  The cashier had nodded.  I'd ordered onion rings.  They came huge -- two inches thick and fried with a thick crust.  Mrs. HowChow went with the regular burger and sweet potato fries.

I noticed that my burger came wrapped even while the other "eat in" orders sat on platters.  Now, I assume mine was done too early.  When I sat down, I went straight for her fries.  That's delicious with all the fun of regular fries and an interesting flavor too.  The onion rings were sweet inside with a good crunch.  Then I went for the burger.

Look, BGR's results are clearly mixed.  Comments on my prior post have gone up and down.  Brent the Brewer ranks it  his #4 burger in the county.  But both of our burgers were overcooked.  It's a nice bun, a special piece of bread.  The pork and other toppings were neat.  And we were enjoying ourselves in the sunset, alternating between the burgers and the fries.

It was just distracting to think this was a restaurant-size bill -- without the restaurant kitchen paying attention to the meal that I bought.  Afterwards, I realized it would have been different at a full service place.  A waitress would have asked how everything had been.  I would have pointed out the medium burger was cooked all the way.

Instead, we ate.  Fine night.  We had fun with the special Coke machine.  We watched folks eating frozen yogurt at the Tutti Fruitti next door.  We ate most of the burgers.  I thought that I might try the Wellington on another visit, definitely eat more sweet potato fries.  But eventually, I put the burger down.

My next burger out has to be at Victoria Gastro Pub:  a burger, beers and a night on the patio.  If I'm right, Victoria's burgers and fries cost about the same as BGR.

BGR The Burger Joint
6250 Columbia Crossing Circle, Suite D
Columbia, MD 21045
443-319-5542

BGR-The Burger Joint on Urbanspoon

41 comments:

Jody said...

My husband and I went this past weekend. We ordered our burgers medium and they came out medium well to well done. It was disappointing. The burgers were good, but just didn't blow me away. We got the fries with roasted garlic, but the big roasted garlic bulbs were just plopped on top of the fries instead of being chopped up and mixed in. You didn't get much garlic or garlic flavor in each bite. The soda machine was fun, but we felt they needed another one because the line to get a drink was long. Overall, it wasn't a bad meal but I wouldn't go out of my way to go back. So far it seems the new HoCo burger joints (BGR & Fatburger) haven't quite lived up to their hype and I think I'd rather go to Five Guys!

jackie said...

I keep hearing the same exact thing. I think I'll pass - but stop in to check out that soda machine of theirs!

Steve Fine said...

I've yet to find a burger that beats Five Guys.

Off topic: is there a good place in HoCo to buy BBQ supplies (good lump charcoal for instance)?

Soo said...

Went with the family and my son liked his Southwestern burger b/c the spices were mixed into the meat as well as the spicy condiments. My husband and I ordered the Wellington burger - both medium - and they came out charred well done. Could not finish our Wellington burgers bc they were so dry. The onion rings and the sweet potato fries were excellent, though 1 side for 3 ppl would have worked well. The yukon gold fries were overcooked too and the garlic, rosemary, parm cheese were mounded ontop of the fries instead of being mixed in. Had to admit that the diners on Rt 40 had more satisfying burgers...

Anonymous said...

My goodness. People in HoCo just love to bitch and complain about meaningless crap like hamburgers. Oh, the horror! your burger was medium well instead of medium! How will you ever survive?
Big deal.

icolithic said...

I've enjoyed BGR on several ocassions with friends at their Dupont Circle location in DC. I was thrilled to hear that one was opening in Columbia, but somehow, the suburban location is lacking. BGR is definitely an urban joint ... in the burbs, next to a Target, it loses it's "trendy" appeal. The food is still good (the staff still need some time to get into their groove) better than Five Guys, but a bit pricey for the burbs.

icolithic said...

If you're dishing out $8 for a burger, it should be cooked the way you ordered it. That said, you should not hesitate to complain to the manager about it.

Mediaprophet said...

Hard to complain to the manager when the line is long. At a restaurant, it's easy - just call for him. At BGR, the manager might not even be there.

My experience was much like yours: $28 for Medium Wellington, Med-Rare Tuna, 1 reg. fries and 1 soda (and 1 free water). The wellington was overcooked; the sushi tuna was a wedge cut and actually raw at the thick end. Good tasting sandwiches though - on par with Fudruckers for premium cooked-to-order burgers but not better than.

Give me Second Chance or Fudruckers any day.

Anonymous said...

Went last Friday at about 5:30. Not too long a wait. I had the Greek, asked for it medium and got it that way. The Sweet Potato fries were great, although the rest of my family wouldn't eat them...more for me. My husband got the Wellington medium. He got it cooked right and when I snuck a bite, I thought it was heaven on a bun! The kids split a sliders meal, but thought it was a little too oniony...next time we'll just ask for no onions on it. The only thing I wish they would change would be to add a kids drink (same complaint with 5 Guys). My 3 & 5 year old wanted to use the cool machine, but $2 for a drink so big they could barely finish half? Next time they will split the kids meal as it would be enough for 2 kids that age...and they'll share a drink. Overall we had a great experience, which is a good thing since it cost more than taking the family to Red Robin.

Amber Mc said...

We had the opposite experience. Medium burgers came out raw...I mean RAW! Went back to have them fixed and there was a long line of people complaining. Once things were fixed, we thought the flavors were excellent...but still a bit astounded by our bill.

Anonymous said...

I had such high hopes for this place, but everybody I've talked has panned it. I'll either try the DC one or just stick with victoria or Five guys for my burger fix.

Wino_II said...

Went in with a bunch of friends on Memorial day evening after seeing a movie. The place was a mess. There seemed to be equal amount of food/trash on the floor as on the table. Ice was pouring out of the soda machine uncontrollably onto the floor creating a nice little slipping pond. The food was good, wasn't great and agree with the post and comments above, it was all a bit too expensive for what we got. My meal came to $16 for a burger with cheese and bacon, onion rings, and a soda. The onion rings were damn good but the burger was just good. I was hoping to make a different type of soda but the ice and line of people figuring out what they wanted made me choose quickly and move along. Seems like they were understaffed and probably still have the recently opened gitters.

michelle said...

I'm sorry to hear that people are having such lousy experiences at BGR. I have been twice so far and both times I was very happy. I don't eat beef hamburgers so went with the turkey burger and I can honestly say it was one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. I wasn't blown away by the fries but the burger was huge and I didn't really need the fries anyway. We had great service both times we went, and the soda machine is great. 5 guys may be better but I can't really say since they don't offer any options to us turkey/veggie burger eaters so I guess we'll stick with the BGR and Cheeburger.

And if your burgers were over/under cooked it probably would have been helpful to say something despite lines - how else are they going to know there is a problem?

Anonymous said...

^ Five guys does have a grilled cheese and a veggie version as well. Not a burger, but I've heard they are tasty.

I'm going to hold off on going to BGR, I'll give them a couple of months to work the kinks out. I was really excited, but the negative reviews seem to far out weigh the positives.

Josh K said...

We went in with really high hopes also. Both of my boys were excited for the Tuna burger, but they were out. I also would not say they are made to order, just cooked to order. All of the patties seem to be pre-made with the ingredients mixed in. This did not allow for any flexibility to add or delete. I thinking toppings work better. My wife's Turkey burger was cold, but they handled it very well. They brought a new one, with sweet potato fried and two brownies. Plus, I got a mild case of food poisoning from mine - all for $60 bucks for four.
I guess I am still looking for a phenomenal burger in HoCo. For now my favorite is still 5 guys, and I think their fries may be the best I ever have had.

MLR said...

All the negative comments surprise me somewhat. I've been here several times in the last two weeks, both by myself and with my family. Here are my two negative observations:

1. The biggest downside to me is the cost. For my wife, three kids (with one ordering off the kid's menu)and me, it was $55. That's kind of high for hamburgers and French fries.

2. We order our burgers medium well and they've been more well-done than medium well on average.

On the positive side:

1. In spite of those two issues, we think the burgers are great. They're cooked on a flame/grill rather than fried and they have a great taste as a result.

2. We've gotten both the regular fries and the onion rings and liked them both. The first time I got the onion rings, my reaction was similar to How Chow's but when you realize the five or six rings here are so thick that they're the equivalent of 10-15 somewhere else, it's not a bad deal. My wife and I have split the rings both times and had plenty.

3. The kids love the drink machine.

I've never been impressed with our local Fatburger. I used to like Fuddruckers but not so much anymore. Houlihan's used to have a good burger before they went to a tasteless bun. We like Red Robin but it cost about the same as BGR. So, I'd vote for BGR on taste but if I'm taking my whole family, I'll save $15 and go to Five Guys.

So, for those who may be discouraged by the negative comments on this post, I'd say give BGR another week to work out their issues and give them a try.

Go at lunch and you can save a little money on their "Box lunch" or save money at other times by sharing the onion rings or fries because both really are big enough to share.

Morty Abzug said...

Not sure Five Guys still counts as a small chain. We were recently down in Orlando, and saw a Five Guys there. I went to their website and entered some random cities such as Boise, Idaho and Kalispell, Montana, and there were Five Guys there as well. Five Guys is spreading rapidly.

Marcia said...

I know we should allow this place time to work out the kinks. If the kinks don't get worked out, it seems the owners must have heard that many Howard Countians are willing to pay a LOT of money for mediocre food.

Pam said...

I went with a bunch of people a week ago at lunchtime. Everyone (including me) enjoyed the food. My burger and fries were delicious. However, it bit back. I got food poisoning. Luckily, the 7 others that I went with were fine.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't impressed. I did not like the bun - it fell apart long before my burger was gone. The place is set up awkwardly......the long line of people goes straight through the middle of the seating. It was strange having people standing right next to me while I was eating. Probably won't return.

Dan said...

It was no good! My burger was way too overdone, fries terrible, etc. To be fair, have gone to the one in Bethesda a few times and it was better. Still, I spent the whole time telling people how to work the soda machine and that was not appreciated.

Official list of best burger places in the area, ranked by excellence:
5. BGR
4. Cheeburger Cheeburger
3. Five Guys
2. Fatburger
1. VGP
0. FUDDRUCKERS!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Way to expensive, wait was too long, lackluster food. Dry overcooked burgers and cold fries.
Five Guys and Cheeburger Cheeburger are both better. Kinda a bummer! I heard good things. So maybe we'll go back in a few months.

Soo said...

We Went Back To BGR (ROUND 2)!!
Decided to see if dinner time would be more successful than a lunch time weekend rush. IT WAS!! Much Much Better. My son had the Cuban burger at Medium and it was Medium Well but NOT burnt. Juicy juicy. He really likes the onion rings because it's all done ala minute - they stay crunchy.

I went in a different direction and ordered the Lobster Roll. Eh. I was expecting a Maine-style Lobster Salad Roll. It was just plain lobster meat ontop of lettuce and coleslaw dressing drizzled over. The Red Hook Lobster Truck in DC has the REAL THING. I would NOT recommend the Lobster Roll at BGR, but I opted for the sliders as well (kids meal) and they were very tasty. Sweet Potato fries were fantastic - ask for the Parm cheese on top. Wow. Salty Sweet goodness.

Points of Improvement - the grill/kitchen team seemed to work better/tighter with their orders. Heard more call/response when orders were fired and then ready to be plated. And the manager was there clearing tables and helping people find seats. Still need another drink machine so more than 1 person can use it at a time!

Fat Burger is still my favorite in the area! I'm a Californian at heart, so if I can't find an In'N'Out, then it's Fat Burger!

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked by all the people pimping Fatburger. I haven't been based on the pretty negative reviews on Yelp.

I may just have to check them out someday.

Anonymous said...

Are you people nuts!! BGR Rocks. I work in Columbia and have eaten at all the burger places. The quality at BGR is there.I have eaten at BGR Columbia 5 times already and was never disappointed. These comments crack me up. One women got sick but all her other friends did not. How could that be? wouldn't they all get sick? Head stratcher hugh? And everyone has there own opinion on what is medium, med.well, and well. Heck chef's can't even agree on that. Stop Bitchin. If you can't afford a great meal, get a second job. Just stop complaining about nothing!!!!

Nick L. said...

I agree with the last guy. I have been to the BGR in Columbia several times. Yes, they are busy, the music is rocking, and the burgers are great. The Coke machine is really cool. My favorite is the cuban and it is out of this world good.And yes it comes in a raper.The onion rings are hugh for the price. I can hardly finish them. Can they fine tune the place? Yes, but some of these comments just make me laugh out loud. I give them 2 thumbs up!!!

Alison said...

Went with my husband the other day. We tried the Wellington and the Southwestern as well as the fries and onion rings. I thought the burgers were just okay, the fries were very ordinary, and the onion rings were greasy and mushy. The Coke machine was our favorite part, which is kind of sad commentary about the food. Given the cost, I don't think we'll be back. I enjoy Five Guys more, and it costs about half of what BGR does. I also agree about the odd setup - we were there at an off hour but if there had been any kind of line people would have been hovering right over us.

Long story short...I'd rather go to Five Guys, Fuddruckers, Red Robin, or Cheeburger Cheeburger based not just on price, but on taste as well. Sorry BGR.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned lamb, pork and tuna burgers and then you compare them to 5 Guys limited menu?

I mentioned in an earlier post that these guys had a horrible name and good luck trying to compete with 5 Guys deliciousness. I had no idea they were gonna bring out the tuna/pork burger.

I haven't actually tried this place yet cause I sorta moved to Maine, but I'm still predicting big ass fail. If you are an investor in this place try to sell your shares to somebody fast.

Anonymous said...

Did I actually read a post about food poisoning on here? Seriously?

Anonymous said...

I've been to BGR in Arlington and thought the veggie burger was great. I got the same burger at the Columbia location and it was not as tasty. My husband had the same experience with the meatatarian burgers so I assume it is because the place is new. We just need to give it some time to work out the kinks. But yes they are super pricey if you can't get the lunch deal.

Adam from GrubGrade said...

Having been out in Utah for college the past 2 years and frequented In-N-Out, I can't accept the false claims of any of these East Coast burger joints haha. But I am interested in this turkey burger. Is it anything special?

Steve Fine said...

In and Out Burgers are clearly inferior to 5 Guys. Did my own test this spring. Had 5 Guys on a Sunday, and the next day I flew out to Californian and had In and Out Burgers on two occasions. In and Out Burgers are good, but are clearly inferior to Five Guys. And Five Guy's fries are superior as well. It's just one guy's opinion.

Anonymous said...

I have been to BGR three times and each time I have had a great experience. The atmosphere is quaint, they were very accomodating in letting us take chairs outside.... the lobster burger was to die for....my husband had the greek burger and loved it... the kids had the sliders and were very happy. The owners were in the restaurant and were walking around making sure everyone was happy even giving our children free brownies. I don't know where the rest of you have been.... I give it 5 stars and even took my entire workplace there.

Brandon Miller - Milhouse44 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I got a Cuban burger at BGR yesterday. It was fantastic. It even came wrapped just like they do in New York. The place was busy, but my food was ready in about 7 minutes. The music was great. There were songs I haven't heard in years. Brought me back to my youth. The sweet potatoe fries were good and the soda machine was a little confusing. All in all a great place to eat.

JD said...

I went for lunch almost 2 weeks ago, and it wasn't great. The order was messed up, and we had to ask for some of the items that we're missing. Had to wait in a long line for the soda machine, but whatever. The food made me sick, and the quality of the food/service for what you pay is disappointing. I love new food places but its going to take a miracle to get me to go back here.

jeffsix said...

Went this evening for the first time with high hopes...loves me a good burger. Got a plain burger, medium rare, nothing special or extravagant. At 5.45p on a Thursday, it was not busy. Burger came out in decent time (10min) and looked ... small. For $6.95, I expected a much bigger burger. Took a few bites and it was ... cooked medium (no, there is no wiggle room or interpretation here ... medium rare burgers should be red, not all brown/gray with a tiny amount of pink). It was, however, very juicy and tasted delicious. Had it actually been cooked the way I ordered it, it would have been amazing. So, I'm somewhat disappointed by the size of the meal for the price, and in the lack of attention to cooking temperature, but the burger was quite tasty. I'll be back to try again...but the price v. size ratio may very well prohibit me from eating here on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

I wish In-and-Out would open a store out here in Maryland...but from the reviews here of BGR..I will stick with Five Guys in the interim!!

kam said...

I'm a bit late to the party, but hey. Had the turkey burger and sweet potato fries. The fries were crispy and tasty, but lukewarm. I got rosemary and parmesan on them, and like previous posts mention it's sprinkled on top without really a good way to get it to stick to the fries themselves. Had the fries been a bit warmer, that might have worked better. Still, it was a good combination, and there's enough in an order for two people. I ended up taking a good portion of them home with me.

The turkey burger was interesting. Having the mushrooms mixed in provides an interesting texture (I'm guessing it helps things hold togther more easily) and it comes across a lot like having mushrooms on the burger. There was a nice grill flavor, although I wish I hadn't gotten the mojo sauce as it was a bit overpowering.

The layout reminds me of the Jimmy John's across the street, and I can definitely see how it would have problems when it's busy. There's only so much room for people to stand.

Overall, I'm glad I tried it. There are a couple items I'm curious about, so I think I'll be making a return visit, but it's not going to become a regular part of my dining out rotation.

~kam

Dan R. said...

Just went to BGR for the first time yesterday afternoon on my way to a concert. I had the Greek burger with fries and my wife got the Tuna with onion rings. My burger was ordered medium well and it was perfectly cooked. The taste was amazing. I could not finish my fries, so I took them with me.They were great and plentiful. My wife's tuna was cooked medium and again cooked perfect. The onion rings were huge. She could not finish them either. You see alot of comments that make you wonder, but all I can say is we will be back. Best burger place in town.

Anonymous said...

I went Tuesday 09/20/11 3pm, One other person inside ,, Burger took about 12-15 mins,, I got a coke too, over $10 ,, not worth it. Burger was nothing special ,, for less than $10 I can goto Fuddruckers or Five Guys for about $10-11 and still get Fries . So its one and done for me at BGR