Burger Bar 419 offers thick, fresh, tasty, real burgersWritten by Don Zellers | | firstname.lastname@example.org
This is America. We were built on the burger. Well, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration; early U.S. settlers ate mostly corn, chickens, beans, wild turkeys, buffalo, etc. However, hamburgers, as we recognize them, have been around in this country since the late 1800s.
Gastropubs and specialty burger places have been popping up in many major U.S. cities during the past decade, focusing on the all-beef patty. Now Toledo is showing up to the party with establishments like Bar 145, PerrysBurgers and Burger Bar 419, which have taken the burger experience to the next level.
Burger Bar 419 offers 14 unique specialty burgers and a “Classic American” for the kids or the less adventurous. My penchant for barbecue pushed me to try the Short Stuff. The first thing I noticed about my burger was that it had a big-ass steak knife stabbed into its bun. The half pound patty inside was at least a solid inch thick and was cooked to perfection. The braised short-ribs piled on top were a little spicy on their own, but intermingled nicely with the “Good Stuff” mayo I chose to adorn it. The “Good Stuff” is one of Burger Bar 419’s six homemade specialty mayos and is a treat all on its own. It is made with rice vinegar, molasses and mayonnaise and is also great on fries.
You can pair your burger with a specialty slaw, onion petals or hand-cut fries. I went with the fries. They reminded me of Cedar Point fries initially, but 419’s addicting, sea salt-seasoned steak fries made those look like the Jr. Gemini in comparison.
Although the menu at Burger Bar 419 is centered around the burgers, it also has a handful of wild appetizers to shock your taste buds. I decided to start with the Crispy Pork Belly and the Baked Egg.
My Crispy Pork Belly was somewhat deceiving in its moniker. The tender pork was not really crispy at all; it was the spicy Kim Chee laid on top that provided its crunch.
The delicious teriyaki-based sauce played well with the other flavors to make a formidable taste combination.
The Baked Egg was over hard consistency and was nestled in a bed of spinach and topped with Gruyére cheese. It was served with three crostini to transport the egg to your stomach.
I admit, I was as nervous as a wounded seal swimming in a shark tank when ordering the Roasted Marrow Bones. Broiled bone marrow, really, you eat it?! Supposedly it was really big back in The Depression. Apparently, they didn’t have dollar menus or $5 pizzas then and people used every bit of food they had available, even the marrow from cow bones.
It arrived in a form that I can only describe as “melted beef fat” and didn’t have a strikingly strong taste on its own. I was told by the chef that people really like the consistency and texture of the bone marrow and that it is used as a “vessel” to deliver the sweet onion marmalade.
After tasting a bit of it, I thought about going all “Captain Caveman” on the two beef bones, ditching my fork and just picking them up and sucking the marrow out. Seeing how nice my wife looked in her dress and the fact that we were out on a date made me decide to “stay classy” like Ron Burgandy would want me to.
The appetizers and specialty burgers aren’t the only unique things you’ll find on the menu at Burger Bar 419. There are also some fun flavors of milkshakes, such as PB&J, avocado and banana’s Foster.
Everything I tried at Burger Bar 419 was delicious and distinctive but the character of the place didn’t end with the food. The beaded curtains made of ball bearings, along with chairs and booths that simultaneously look retro and modern industrial, give the place a unique feel. The hanging metallic lights provided illumination without overpowering fluorescence, and the brightly colored paintings adorning the walls and the eclectic mix of music filling the background completed the relaxed, yet classy atmosphere.
The centerpiece of the dining room is a giant, thick, wooden Last Supper-style table that would be perfect for large groups and parties.
Since the word “Bar” does appear in the name, it only makes sense that there is a separate, small bar area for patrons who would rather just hang out and watch the game or chill out and sample the colossal array of domestic beers and micro brews. My wife and I counted about 30 different beers in all, not bad.
Burger Bar 419 is co-owned by Tony House and Moussa Salloukh. The two formed a good team while working together at Cousino’s Navy Bistro, with Salloukh serving as general manager and House filling the role of Executive Chef.
After Navy Bistro closed, House and Salloukh, who is also part owner of La Scola Italian Grill and The Hungry I, decided to try something a little different.
The “419” part of the Burger Bar 419 name is a reference, of course, to Toledo’s area code, but also serves as a reminder to patrons that nearly everything that they are eating has been grown, raised or purchased locally — one of the reasons that the food here tastes so unbelievably fresh.
The prices for the appetizers seemed somewhat high, $5-10 for the small portions you get, but the overall price was fair to middling for the quality. You won’t find any “Happy Meals” at the Burger Bar 419, (hell, they don’t even have a kids’ menu), but I’m pretty sure I saw the Hamburgler slinking out of there with mustard on his shirt the night we were there. I guess he knows what I now know — if you want real, thick, fresh, tasty burgers, you have to go to the 419.