For the longest time, people wondered if Bareburger Stamford would actually happen as that sad and lonely spot at 21 Harbor Point remained barren while Fortina and other spots nearby opened up and flourished. Well, glimmers of hope arrived as winter neared, and since opening up a few weeks back it has been jam-packed.
When we went to try it out this past Saturday (at around 6:45 pm) we were more than ready to eat and drink our sorrows away after witnessing our beloved Rangers lose in overtime at MSG. The space is pretty small with some seats at the bar, a few high-tops, and a handful of tables, but luckily we only had a 1/2 hour wait for a party of 6, which isn’t too bad.
As you know, we’re pretty skeptical about chain restaurants, though we’re much more optimistic about chains with a unique and responsible approach to food, like Bareburger. That said, our main concern with chains like these is quality control, but we went in with cautious, yet open, minds. To be honest, we were more excited about all our options (from cocktails to burgers) than we expected. There was so much that we wanted to order, but could only fit so much on the table, even if we were with our friends John, Jenn, RJ, and Erin. But, we certainly tried our best . . .
First up, let’s take down the beverages, all of which, surprisingly, kicked some serious ass:
Hot Toddy: Perfect on a cold day, the Hot Toddy comes out steaming hot. It has a nice cidery taste with spices like cinnamon coming through. Although it tasted a bit watery to start, it did get stronger as we got closer to the bottom. We would have liked more of a liquor-forward punch, though, as it tasted a bit weak.
Fig + Pig: A beyond excellent cocktail made up of bourbon, citrus, fig jam, agave, and country bacon. The bourbon comes through nicely with just the right amount of sweetness from the agave and fig jam. The smokiness of the bacon is right in front of your nose with each sip, so that adds a whole new level to this drink. A definite must order.
Kentucky Bourbon Mule: You can order a Moscow, Mexican, or even Kentucky Mule depending on your mood, so we decided to stick with the bourbon theme. It was perfectly balanced, making it dangerously easy to drink. And it came with 2 pieces of candied ginger which is always yummy!
Black Cherry Manhattan: Smooth, not overly strong like many Manhattans can be. A very nice, approachable, drink.
Hot Honey Milkshake: Creamy, silky, nice and thick, this milkshake had a fun spicy, sweet kick from the honey that put it over the top. And, although they can’t prepare it this way, we’ll let you in on a secret. We ordered a straight bourbon on the side, put the milkshake in the glass, then slowly stirred in the bourbon. Oh dear God yes, amazing. This should really be on the menu there . . . they can even name it after us, just sayin’.
Starters and sides, which again, were all pretty damn amazing:
Onion Rings: You can order them as a side or in a sharing portion. We got the larger sharing portion because, well, onion rings. They were crispy, crunchy, and had a nice herb breading. What else did we love? You’d bite down and the whole thing wouldn’t fall apart or crumble into a pathetic mess. The construction remained solid and we dug these. And, they came with two delish dipping sauces: a red smoked sauce and a paprika mayo, both which added a nice twist.
Brussels Sprouts: We had a whole conversation how Brussels have made this beautiful comeback and how people actually expect them on menus now. Remember when we used to hate when our parents made them? Well, anywho, they were served up nice and crispy with good char. There was a nice fresh citrus punch from the lemon, and balancing out the earthiness was a generous pile of manchego. Dan thought there was a little too much cheese as it had formed a layer rather than a sprinkling, but he’s not nearly the cheese enthusiast Kristien is, so she loved every bite of it.
Fries: The fries are great here. Nice and crispy on the outside, and a meaty moist inside. The sweet fries were also good and plenty yammy. They were very nice, but we felt like we needed something to dip them with aside from the ketchup, like a molasses or honey. But, speaking of ketchup . . . the Sir Kensington’s is legit, all natural, and not crazy loaded up with sugar.
Burgers. While you can certainly make your own burger by adding in a forkload of ingredients and toppings, we all went with their specialty burgers assuming they knew what worked together best. So, here’s where things get tricky:
Hog Wild: This burger featured wild boar, pimento cheese, a fried egg, chickpea onions (breaded with chickpea flour then fried), pickled green tomatoes, and served on a brioche bun. There were a whole lot of great flavors going on here with a creamy fattiness coming from the cheese and egg. The fried onions added a nice crunchiness and all the flavors married well with the wild boar. But, the burger was overall disappointing because the meat was very dry, overcooked, and bland. The flavors: all there. The meat: not there at all.
El Matador: Made with bison, queso fresco, pickled jalapenos, gauc, green leaf, spicy pico de gallo, and again served on a brioche bun. Awesome Mexican-heavy flavors coming through with a creamy guac. There was a nice gentle spice coming through with the salsa and an added bite with the jalapenos. Like the previous burger, this patty was dry and bland, though not quite as badly as the last.
So, Bareburger hit a lot of high notes with us, more than we expected: fantastic drinks at reasonable prices, hoppin’, yet chill atmosphere, great starters and sides, fun flavor combos on the burgers. But, it’s disappointing to say they got the meat all wrong. Both burgers were dry, bland, and overcooked . . . and this was true for almost all the other burgers that our friends ordered as well.
We have a few thoughts on this:
- They haven’t been open long, so maybe they are trying to find the right timing on things?
- They cook exotic meats like bison that have less fat, so that takes more skill to hit just right.
- We ordered the burgers medium, as suggested by our server. We wonder if we ordered them (well, at least the red meat) medium rare, or even rare, whether they’d be juicier.
- They were pretty busy, so maybe they didn’t have the time and focus to really get all the burgers just right.
Whatever reason, we left a bit let down just because everything else was near perfect! That said, we’d love to come back and see how the burgers are again. We also want to order one of the beef options like the Buckaroo, Supreme, or The Standard to see if that’s juicier.
So, with that, we remain hopefully optimistic that Bareburger Stamford will find their way through their burgers. If they can pull through, this will definitely be a great spot to get your burger fix in the Stamford area. In the meantime, everything else makes it worth the trip, for sure!
Noms: TBD after a second visit
21 Harbor Point Road