Salads and sour beer

Burgers and Brew serves up more than just beef and hop-bombs

Two salads, a flight of sour beers and a cozy patio.

Two salads, a flight of sour beers and a cozy patio.

Photo by Howard Hardee

Burgers and Brew
301 Broadway St.
Hours: Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 a.m.

They say ambiance is half of what you pay for at a restaurant, and that feels true at Burgers and Brew. The outdoor patio facing Broadway is a leading example of why that style of dining is taking off in downtown Chico.

And really, that’s what separates Burgers and Brew’s new location from the old one, which until last year was just up the street, at the corner of Second and Broadway streets. The old place also had an outdoor seating area, but it was small and offered an uninspiring view of a parking lot. The new one is prime real estate, especially on sunny days. It’s one of my go-to places to kick it, eat and drink and watch passersby.

The move also allowed the restaurant to expand its number of tap handles (now 64), providing a ridiculous variety of specialty craft beers, including 15 rotating specials. Otherwise, it’s stayed pretty much the same. There’s a full complement of burgers and sandwiches and fries of all kinds—sweet potato, garlic and curly—and the cooks generally make any modifications you want.

A diner’s first inclination may be to order a burger paired with some monstrous IPA or stout. When in Rome, you know? Meat and cheese and hop-bombs are standbys, but if you’re in the mood for something different, something a little lighter, Burgers and Brew’s menu goes deeper than its name might suggest.

On a recent, chilly weeknight on the patio, my dinner date, Abby, and I got a table by the outdoor firepit and ordered a flight of sour beers ($14 for four 5 oz. glasses) and a salad apiece. Hear me out: At Burgers and Brew, the salad is more than miscellaneous green stuff. Consider the Fuji salad ($6.50 for a half-salad, which is a full plate). It includes sliced apples or pears, candied walnuts, crumbled blue cheese and carrot shavings, all seated on greens drizzled with balsamic dressing.

As per usual, my Fuji salad was right on, but Abby’s Caesar ($6.25 for a half) wasn’t up to par. We discovered that it’s possible for croutons to be stalearen’t they like, old bread, anyway?—and the dressing’s anchovy flavor was weak.

The salads paired well with the flight, however. For those not on the sour beer bandwagon, they’re produced by intentionally allowing wild yeast or bacteria in during the brewing process, providing an acidic quality that can range from slightly tart to a sour slap in the face. Our flight included the Petrus Aged Pale from Belgium’s De Brabandere Brewery; Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge, a Flemish red ale made by another Beligan outfit, Omer Vander Ghinste Brewery; The Bruery’s Oude Tart, a Flemish red produced in Orange County; and the Tell-Tale Tart, a sour ale made by Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Co.

The Petrus, glowing yellow in the firelight, looked appealing, but had a bitter finish neither of us cared for. I thought the deep-red Cuvée hit the spot, with the right balance of malt and sour kick; and the cloudy, highly carbonated Oude Tart scored points with Abby for giving her nose a fizzy feeling. We agreed that the Tell-Tale Tart was more neutral in flavor and sensation by comparison.

We ate relatively healthfully, sampled beers new to us, and didn’t empty our wallets or overstuff ourselves. Overall, we left satisfied.