It sounds like a restauranteur’s Manhattan checklist: spacious, comfortable lounge, check. Contemporary rustic decor and a gentle Australian color extending an arm of hardwood bar into the dining area, check. Sweet 84th street corner location, check. Plenty of organic ingredients for the high-class Whole Foods shopper, combined with the gentle grunt of burger noshing- double check!
Beet, the new burger bar venture by couple entrepreneurs Joanne and Darryl,had their soft opening last week, and while everything felt a little jostled (the usual for an opening restaurant, sides without sauces, not asking for temperatures on burgers), the staff came across helpful and endearing. Besides, the passion chefs put into food can only be enjoyed in the first month or so of opening, something I definitely felt in the thick, perfectly seasoned burger I received. As the namesake suggests, there are beets in practically everything- beet chips, beet fries, pickled beets, beet mayonaise, assorted beets sides. Don’t worry, the deep magenta juice is water soluble. It’s a bold, smart move, considering beets are available year-round. It’s not a gimmick- the beets work. With the combination of beet chips and a mild mint ketchup, my burger definitely had some kick, almost like a gourmet potato chip burger; Reports from the vegetarian girlfriend showed their portobello burger stacked up to the meat counterpart, raising the bar with pickled beets and chipotle mayo. Our supreme favorite was the beet fries- tastes like sweet potato, but with a nice juicy pop in the middle.
In Beet, I got the rare, distinct feeling of a being welcomed into someone else’s idea of a good time; not a mean feat, considering their uptown location. It’s no Hill Country Market, but it’s not Shake Shack either. Warm, wooden tables, a semi-private area for couples, and gentle encouragement of bar design promotes a warm, communal feeling, rather than the shark-infested waters of their neighboring competitors. Even the menus have in-jokes: I had the “Jumper” burger, knit from the meat of real lamb. The cocktails are appropriately seasonal and nearly everything is sourced locally. I’ll be looking forward to eating here again.