West Bridge

January 3rd, 2014 by Richard Chudy

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It used to puzzle me when restaurants that seemingly had no business putting a burger on their menu, had a burger on their menu. Especially when you consider that most burgers are fairly similar, why bother throwing your hat in the perpetual burger ring when you aren’t going to try something different? This has often been the case with some of the higher end restaurants in town who (try to) rely on premium beef and brioche bun varieties but somehow miss the mark more often than not with what should be an easy assignment. When they are successful it’s usually a fast-food inspired burger that is ultimately a very round about way of pleasing us in the way that burgers were always supposed to please us: with simplicity. West Bridge in Kendall is known for a few things: small plates, that damn egg in a jar (probably the most overrated menu item I’ve had in recent memory) and a nice cocktail list, but a burger, not so much.

The West Bridge burger is only available on the lunch menu and thankfully is more interesting than meets the eye. It’s a $12 burger and I have no qualms about that, and while it’s not the largest sandwich you’ll come across, it’s adequately sized and all you really need for lunch. The house ground beef is the first thing I noticed, which has a lovely coarseness to it and it’s easy to see how carefully it is handled, which yields a light and fluffy texture. Surprisingly, however, it almost takes on a terrine type of flavor, which of course is anything but light and fluffy texturally, but something in there gives it the flavor without the heaviness. Suffice to say it tastes more on the meatloaf side of the spectrum than a burger, but it is original nonetheless and still very enjoyable. There is no crust to be found but the seasoning is very good, and despite not being asked how I wanted it cooked, the burger comes out medium to medium-rare with spots of pink and pretty good, if not gushing juices. Melted muenster is a nice cheese alternative that offers a mild nuttiness and a mayo-based slaw is a fresh and crunchy counterpoint that is appreciated. A soft bun is lightly toasted and still squishy and is the ideal fit for the size of the patty. Lightly pickled vegetables (sliced carrots and other assorted vegetables) are crunchy and just pungent enough and in keeping with the theme are a welcome change of pace from the norm. Homemade chips are not short on potato flavor and while they could use a drop more of salt they are well executed but are not the preferred French fry.

Overall the West Bridge burger is successful due to execution and differentiation. It’s hard to say if it’s mostly enjoyable because it at least has something new to offer in an often cliched world, or if it’s good for the sake of being good. The well seasoned beef doesn’t smack you in the face with traditional beef or burger flavor, but the choices of bun, cheese and pickled vegetables are all appreciated and fitting. It’s properly priced and while it’s not the usual greasy, fatty and salty enterprise, it’s still a winner in my book.

Overall Score: 82

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