From Hamburg to Belgium
Henri broods, samples Burgers and Brew
Burgers & Brew201 Broadway
Chico, CA 95928
Henri was shocked the other afternoon to learn that what he had come to consider his intellectual property had been trespassed upon. Readers may recall several holidays ago my recommended stocking stuffers for cooks, including swim goggles, which I suggested wearing while slicing onions. Imagine mon distress then at seeing “Onion Goggles,” packaged as such, right there on the counter at Zucchini & Vine in downtown Chico. I very nearly fainted.
“Is he OK?” a nice woman asked as I tried to regain my balance by leaning against the display table.
“He’ll be fine,” Colette responded, taking my elbow. “He just needs some fresh air.”
She walked me out onto the street. “Big breaths,” she said. “In, out, in.”
Within a few minutes my wheezing had nearly subsided, although I still felt profoundly violated.
“Come on,” she said, “let’s go get something to eat. How ’bout the new Burgers and Brew?”
“How ’bout the ol’ burgers and Bordeaux?”
She’d heard that they had a decent wine list, so we headed down the block. Turned out to be the perfect distraction.
Burgers and Brew (with sister stores in Davis and Sacramento) opened at the end of 2010 underneath Crush at the corner of Second and Broadway. They’ve done a good job overall, with both food and decor.
The Broadway-facing floor-to-ceiling windows light the room, afternoon sunshine reflecting off the shiny concrete floor, ceiling fans twirling softly above 15 or so Pottery Barn-type tables and a dozen stools at the bar. Outside, there’s a small patio with propane heaters.
Hamburgers ($6.75-$8.50) are made from half a pound of Niman Ranch beef, and you can also get veggie, buffalo, tofu and portobello burgers, as well as BLTs, grilled ham and cheese, Philly cheese steaks and chili dogs. All burgers and sandwiches include a side of fries or small salad. For another $1.50 upgrade to a side of soup or Caesar or house salad. A bar menu, available after 2 p.m., offers quesadillas, pancetta-wrapped brie (with sun-dried cherries, fig chutney and a baguette for $12), and roasted garlic (with brie, candied walnuts, fig chutney and a baguette for $11).
The restaurant also serves a wide range of beers, including Guinness and Sierra Nevada on tap, while the wine-and-beer menu lists two pages of bottled brews, mostly from Belgium, running $4 to $16. The wine list, though not extensive, is fine for a burger place, with glasses going for around $7 and bottles $24-$45—you can also get 3-oz. tastes for around $3.50.
Colette ordered a cheeseburger, cooked medium, and a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, and I went with the turkey-avocado melt and a glass of Bogle Old Vine Zin. Our drinks were out immediately, and our food shortly, and it was very good, my sandwich stuffed with turkey and perfectly ripe avocado, the sliced sourdough grilled golden brown. Colette was impressed with her burger, too, which was cooked perfectly, juice oozing out onto her fries, although she found the half pound of beef a bit much and ended up not quite finishing it (she did locate someone who would, though, and I agreed with her that it was quite tasty). We were also impressed with the very friendly and helpful staff.
We went back a couple of days later to try the bar menu, sampling the fish quesadillas—breaded tilapia with cheese and Ortega chiles in a flour tortilla, topped with diced green onions, jalapeño and cilantro, with a bowl of green salsa on the side ($5). Absolutely delicious—and a fine complement to my bacon-and-jalapeño cheeseburger, which was perfect on sliced sourdough, grilled, instead of the default sesame bun.
Since then, we’ve been back several times and have been mostly very impressed. Our only disappointments were with the salads. The chicken in my chicken Caesar was dry, the salad underdressed, Colette’s house salad was rather wilted, the tomato hard and tasteless—granted, it’s not the best time of the year for greens and veggies. Definitely could use some work in that department, though. Best to stick with the burgers and brews, and perhaps that Zin, for now.