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Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar in Beijing: Mongolian yak never tasted so good

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Two likely reactions of diners at Burger Bar when it fully opens in Parkview Green. One: these burgers are awesome! Two: where can I sell a kidney to pay for them?

Burger Bar is the brainchild of chef Hubert Keller, known for his restaurant Fleur de Lys in San Francisco, and first opened in Las Vegas. It has been / will be holding private tastings and should be officially grilling burgers in Beijing within a month.

I tried a few yesterday with two friends and consulting chef Brandon Trowbridge, known from NOLA, Hutong Pizza and other projects.

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Plenty going on here in this chopped salad — avocado, grilled asparagus, beetroot, walnuts, feta, apple, rocket and more — but it is ably married by a lemon and yoghurt dressing.
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The Chinese greens and chili peppers at back provide a nice counterpoint to this mild and savory mushroom macaroni and cheese.
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The Herbert Keller burger has Mongolian yak with caramelized onions, spinach and goat’s cheese on Ciabatta. Trowbridge said the lean yak meat might seem dry to diners used to fattier burgers but I found this one — cooked medium — juicy and tender, helped along by those onions. Comes with a red wine and shallot sauce. The sweet potato fries trumped the regular ol’ fries below.
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The star of the meal: this lamb burger, due in large part to the excellent textures and tastes of the toppings, including tepanade, marinated eggplant, feta, onion, cilantro and mint. This one was simply awesome.

Overall, high marks for taste and presentation, the lone exception being the Norwegian salmon burger — with a 200-gram slab of fish — that we found a bit dry. To be fair: 1) it paled mostly because of the quality of the other burgers and 2) it wasn’t on the tasting menu yet as Trowbridge said they’d only started working with the salmon a few days before. As for my kidney comment earlier, expect to pay up to rmb120 for these burgers, especially pricey as they won’t vie for the title of biggest in town.

More about Burger Bar:

  • The menu includes a ton of “build your own burger” options.
  • There are ten signature burgers, topping out with a 300-gram Wagyu beef burger with truffle and a “surf and turf” burger than includes lobster tail.
  • There is a Vegan gluten-free burger with eggplant and grilled veggies — tomato, zucchini, etc — between two Portobello mushroom caps. It is called, “Why Don’t You Just Stay Home and Eat Lettuce?”
  • There are a handful of salads and sides, including Buffalo wings.
  • Desserts include a ‘chocolate burger‘ with Nutella, passion fruit, strawberries and kiwi in a doughnut.
  • Drinks include a dozen shakes, including one with vanilla ice cream, Jaegermeister and whipped cream. That sounds good… for a friend. There are ten cocktails listed, plus 30 bottled beers and three draft beers, including Dead Guy Ale. There will also be a wine list.

The venue is somewhat isolated on the B1 level of Parkview Green but benefits from the complex’s sunken lawns and has a bank of windows on the north side. There is seating inside for about 80 people at the bar, high tables and booths and in a private room. Each booth has a TV screen that can be tuned to the sports match of your choice while the bar has communal screens. A deck, still under construction, will be able to hold about 60 people. The toilets are down the hall.

Burger Bar feels a bit like the former All-Star Sports Bar in Solana although toned down. It also feels a bit like an airport lounge. Maybe some plants, artwork and photos of famous Mongolian yaks would warm it up.

More photos below.

By the way, I relaunched my bars and restaurants newsletter a few weeks ago. See sample here and here. You can sign up here, at the top right of the blog or by emailing me at beijingboyce (at) yahoo.com.

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The bar and high tables have views of the screens.
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Each booth has a TV. Watch hockey, football, tennis or Game of Thrones (the latter to be confirmed).
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Be along with your burgers in the private room.
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Soon to come: The Burger Bar Patty-O.