So I made the drive up to Palm Beach Gardens a few nights back to check out Allen Susser’s new entry into the battle for World Burger Supremacy, and if one quick dinner is any indication, anyone planning to go patty to patty with Burger Bar by Chef Allen(4650 Donald Ross Rd., 561/630-4545) better get their mustard together because this place turns out one damn fine burger.
We’ll get to the burgers in a minute, but the space itself is pretty interesting too. Imagine a white-tablecloth restaurant bred with a sports bar and hip urban café. It’s a lot bigger than you might expect for a burger joint, not to mention a whole lot spiffier, with a sleek industrial chic look.
There are two distinct spaces: a casual concrete-floored bar-lounge with high-top tables, a well-stocked marble-topped bar, and even a small lounge area with overstuffed sofa and chairs. Beyond a witty divider made of cast-iron pipes that act as shelves for dozens of meat grinders is the second space, only slightly less casual but more like your typical restaurant dining room, with hardwood floor, red leather booths and regular low-top tables. There’s a gleaming pressed-tin ceiling and flat-screen TVs tuned to sporting events hanging everywhere.
The menu is, natch, burger-centric, but also includes everything from Caesar salad and quintet of chicken wings to non-beef burgers, stone crab chowder and crispy conch fritters. (Get the full menu here: http://southflorida.menupages.com/restaurants/burger-bar-by-chef-allen/) I had the Beach Burger, like all the patties here a proprietary blend of short rib, brisket and sirloin, that came with intensely smoky applewood-smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, house-made pickle chips and a tangy “beach sauce.”
The thing was huge—probably a full 10 ounces—cooked a perfect medium-rare and as flavorful as any really good-quality steak. It also came with a little basket of fries, almost always the inexplicable weak link in burger joints—that were almost up to the caliber of the burger.
As you might have guessed from reading this, Chef Allen’s Burger Bar is not competing in what might be called the “downscale gourmet burger” market, where you find such places as Five Guys, BurgerFi and CG. A plain burger starts at $10.50 and goes up to $17 for a patty of USDA Prime Angus beef. So it ain’t cheap. On the other hand, you get what you pay for, and I’ve got no problem shelling out $13.50 for another Beach Burger or whatever the going rate for the Hot Mess Burger or Surf ‘n’ Turf Burger or Tuna Burger or Southern-Fried Chicken Burger.
It’s haute stuff, and it’s all good.