Truth in advertising

Burgers & Brew

1409 R St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 442-0900

Perhaps truth in advertising is appreciated so much because of its scarcity, especially in politics. Burgers and Brew, from the owners of Crepeville, has a Sacramento location to complement its Davis original.

Before entering, the carnivore-inspiring aroma of beef being charred is sufficient proof the menu doesn’t lie. The shrine of 24-odd mostly Belgian brews over the center of the bar and the 12 taps on the wall behind speak eloquently to the beer issue.

Burgers and Brew is in the center of the newly restored Perfection Bread Factory, probably not a truth-in-advertising winner, erected in 1913. Thanks to the work of D&S Development, the red brick building blooms anew as upstairs lofts, downstairs commercial—the model so craved by Sacramento’s city fathers and mothers.

Is there some reason every new building in Midtown has exposed pipes and ducts? Is there some crazed fan of the movie Brazil in the city’s planning department? Burgers and Brew’s dark wood paneling is lightened by some hallucinatory artwork. Don’t enter the establishment on chemicals; hours would pass in mesmerized contemplation of any number of the large canvases. Particularly arresting is the state Capitol as visualized by someone on acid. There are three-stool-a-piece high tables and plenty of low tables, inside and out. It’s order-at-the-counter but, during rush, a second register opens to speed things along. The friendly but efficient woman behind the register commends a Bear Republic Brewing Co. Racer 5 IPA as the soul mate of my $7.25 cheeseburger. It’s “hoppy,” she warns.

The burgers are big. So are the buns; the meat fresh and flavorful. But what makes this place stand out is attention to detail. When a medium burger is ordered, a right-off-the-grill, too-hot-to-eat burger cooked to medium proudly commands the plate, surrounded by a hillock of fresh greens in an instantly addicting sweet glazed balsamic vinaigrette.

Similarly, when my pal Cary Rudman wants medium rare, his patty is pretty in pink. Cary, more boldly, selects the bacon and jalapeño cheeseburger with pepper jack cheese at $8.50. Slathered with homemade jalapeño mayo, dotted with jalapeño slices and an X-marks-the-spot of bacon, it yanks hard on the taste-bud fire alarm. Cary pays it the highest burger compliment there is: The individual components all disintegrate together. A word about onion rings: It’s not just frying them in corn oil, (any knucklehead can do that)—it’s nailing that elusive balance point between overcrunchy and uncrisp. Burgers and Brew finds it easily.

The unblemished delight of the meal raises doubts. The possibility of “too good to be true” is entertained. For round two, the decision is made to move directly to the litmus test. There are only two types of Philly cheese steak—grand and grotesque. Besides the steak and cheese, the essentials are sautéed onions, bell peppers and mushrooms. All are present. Provolone is the cheese. In a nice flourish, the bell peppers are red and orange rather than the more pedestrian green. So stuffed is the sandwich, innards spill onto the plate seeking refuge in the forest of spring greens. The star is the skirt steak, resplendent in a sweet but peppery marinade. It’s such a winner, the chef goes lighter on cheese than some Philly purveyors so the steak stays center stage. As an onion enthusiast, volume could be increased exponentially, but this is a fine Philly that comports itself smartly with the original.

Add to the small-things-done-well file the made-on-the-premises barbecue sauce: sweet but not syrupy, with a faint flame.

Subsequent research—querying Davis denizens who have been to the original—finds strong agreement on the onion-ring assessment presented here. The Caesar salad, with or without chicken—$8.35 and $5.85, respectively—is hailed. And there is a chorus of derision for not delving into the root beer float or the vanilla, chocolate and strawberry shakes.

Fine. Just another excuse to return. What Burgers and Brew does, it does authoritatively. Ain’t truth in advertising grand?