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Burgatory with Jeremy Hopkins

Burgatory with Jeremy Hopkins

Sentenced to Burgatory?  Not a Bad Deal

Where to burger lovers and birthday boys go to spend the remainder of their days?  In the case of yours truly, Burgatory is the only hamburger/eternal-resting-place-themed restaurant I would choose.  Maybe not for the rest of time, but definitely for a relaxed evening celebrating my birthday!  With several locations in the Pittsburgh area but the extreme popularity of the local chain, Burgatory can be difficult to get into even on a weekday (I have indeed waited up to an hour and a half for entrance through the meaty gates.  However, after calling their Northshore property and ensuring they had a table for us on a Friday evening, I made my way to Burgatory, along with Mark Pavic, Mira Patel, and Jeremy Hopkins, who also happens to be the featured reviewer for this installment of Famished with Friends.Burgatory with Jeremy Hopkins

Atmosphere

The atmosphere of Burgatory plays with the idea of a “burger-afterlife” in ways that I just love.  From wall-sized paintings of devil-horned steers to just the lighting and colors used (dark reds and blacks, with “spotlights” highlighting each table, the curators of each space didn’t just gloss over the restaurant’s name.  They embraced it.

It can get quite rowdy at times, especially when the place is completely full.  Fortunately, our Northshore location was very spacious, and we didn’t really run into any noise or hBurgatory with Jeremy Hopkinsearing problems.Burgatory with Jeremy Hopkins

Service

The service was good, in that every one of our needs was taken care of expediently and without issue.  I even thought we were being a little too needy at times (it was my birthday after all), but if our waitress had any issue, she did not let it impact her impeccable aptitude for making sure we were taken care of.

QualityBurgatory with Jeremy Hopkins

The food at Burgatory is a cut above your average burger joint, especially when you consider their inspiring additions like spiked milkshakes and specially-seasoned fries and potato chips.  I think their crème-de-la-crème for unique food offerings has to be their “Build Your Own Burger” menu, which offers such unique toppings as chimichurri aioli, wild mushroom and black truffle mayo, and candied bacon.  My elk burger in particular was well seasoned and cooked to my liking, so I really couldn’t ask for that much more.Burgatory with Jeremy Hopkins

Price

The price is competitive with more fine dining establishments but still in reach for a college student looking for a night out.  Fifteen dollars for a burger isn’t too bad for a special occasion, but be warned: adding appetizers, drinks (maybe not including a spiked milkshake…), sides and a dessert will make Burgatory feel like Hell for your wallet.Burgatory with Jeremy Hopkins

Rating

8.5/10

Translation

For any flaws that Burgatory has, they shall be forgiven in the afterlife.  This is a quality and competent restaurant with a lot to offer that’s fresh and fun for guests.

Jeremy’s Take

Best part of the experience?Burgatory with Jeremy Hopkins

The customer service was definitely the best part.  The waitress was incredibly kind despite the fact that we were a younger group (that doesn’t happen very often).

What needs the most improvement?

While there were TV’s around the restaurant, I feel as if they could be placed in better locations so I don’t have to turn my head awkwardly to see them.

What kind of place is this (who would you bring here, for what purpose, etc.)?

I would describe this as a happy medium between a sports bar and a gastro pub.  It’s a nice place to go with friends for an occasion.

Describe your meal for us.Burgatory with Jeremy Hopkins

My meal was a beef burger cooked with “no pink”.  I got a lot of vegetation on it as well as sharp provolone cheese that accented the burger rather well.  Sauces as well as the bacon I got served well in topping it off to make it an overall incredible burger.

Jeremy is a rising Sophomore from outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, pursing a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.  Jeremy loves to travel to different restaurants and try different things, but the first time he goes to a place, he always gets the burger.  He’s trying to find the best one he can.

Burgatory is a local, upscale burger and milkshake restaurant which sources local and fresh from the Allegheny County area. Check out their website and menu here: http://www.burgatorybar.com/

 

 

 

BRGR with Mark Pavic

BRGR with Mark Pavic

How do you spell it? B-R-G-R…

For a restaurant that removed all the vowels from its title dish, the same certainly doesn’t apply to any other aspect of the place.  If anything, BRGR (pronounced as you would say each individual letter), is a restaurant that only adds the flavorful, the unexpected, and the unique to its menu items.  The entire menu is artfully crafted, with signature and classic burgers topped with the likes of foie gras, bbq-chipotle aioli, or marinated feta cheese.  And you can rest assured that the milkshakes aren’t missing anything either, especially with names like “Death by Chocolate” or “Oatmeal Cream Pie” (or my favorite, Salty Caramel!)  Overall, what BRGR lacks in vowels, it makes up for in so many other ways.  Of course, a restaurant like this is worthy of only the best of friends, so my pal Mark Pavic was my go-to for this burger paradise.BRGR with Mark Pavic

AtmosphereBRGR with Mark Pavic

The atmosphere of BRGR is very flexible: sliding garage doors can be opened, letting in cool breezes across a display of desert art during the summer.  During the winter, the doors can be closed, and the music turned up for a cozy club-like space.  Either way, the comfortably spaced seating, and plentiful bar space is perfect for a variety of occasions.BRGR with Mark Pavic

Service

The service was friendly, but much too prompt and overwhelming for us to enjoy our meal in enough time.  By the time we were two bites into our appetizers, our main course was already out!  Timing is something the staff needs to work on for sure.

Quality

The quality of nearly everything was superb.  My Salty Caramel (spiked) milkshake was rich and delicious.  The appetizer (poutine) had a perfect ratio of cheese curds to gravy.  And my burger (The Steakhouse), in addition to being very tasty, held its weight without being too big to bite.BRGR with Mark PavicBRGR with Mark Pavic

Price

For a gourmet burger, fries, and shake, the price is what you expect, although not necessarily what you would want to pay.

Rating

8.1/10

Translation

BRGR is an exceptional hamburger restaurant, spinning a unique take on classic dishes.  I would highly recommend a visit to anyone of their locations (even in PNC Park!)

Mark’s TakeBRGR with Mark Pavic

I’m not sure if it’s because I was starving or because the shake was really that good, but the Death by Chocolate Shake was the best milkshake I’ve ever had.  The chunks of brownie mixed in really added to it—I definitely plan to go back just for the shake.

When it came time to order food, we order the Grilled Cheese Bites as one of our appetizers.  Compared to the rest of the food, these weren’t the best—but that could have just been because everything else tasted really good.  Overall, I can’t really think of anything else that needs improvement.BRGR with Mark Pavic

I would call BRGR an “upscale Burgatory” [another local burger chain, review coming soon].  Really it can be a restaurant for anyone looking for a good burger and hangout joint, but it fits really well into the college/young adult vibe that East Liberty has been attracting recently.

For my meal, I ordered the Smokehouse Bison burger.  I requested it be cooked medium with the jalapenos on the side.  Burgers are usually my go-to when I go out to eat, so I have a lot of burgers to compare it to!  This burger definitely falls into my top five.

Mark is originally from Johnstown, PA and is currently a Junior at the University of Pittsburgh pursing a double major in marketing and supply chain management with a certificate in digital media.

BRGR is a funky and refreshing take on the hamburger restaurant, serving up delicious burgers, fries, shakes, beers, and more in 5 different locations around the Pittsburgh area.  To learn more about the menu, check out their website: http://brgrpgh.com/

Urban Tap with Mark Pavic

Since turning 21, the gastropub has become one of my favorite types of restaurants for satisfying food and unique craft beers.  There is a type of culture surrounding gastropubs that is just so unique: you have groovy music, a friendly approachable group of guests in one place, and a bunch of greasy but delicious food to fill you up.  I’ve had the privilege of eating at a few gastropubs in Pittsburgh already, including Fuel & Fuddle and the Yard, and while both had delicious food and a great selection of drinks, Urban Tap ups the ante with over 140 types of beer available.  There’s so much beer that an entire wall is devoted to the beers on tap alone!  Nevertheless, I was undaunted on my visit, and I was so happy to share the experience with my Pathfinder family, especially my pal Mark Pavic, who will be the featured reviewer in this installment of Famished with Friends.

Atmosphere: When you walk into the Shadyside location, you are greeted with a huge bar area with tables surrounding the bar and a large glowing screen displaying all the taps.  For our group it was a little awkward, as there wasn’t a separate area for waiting patrons, but if your aim is for the bar then you’ll find plenty of space.  The only other downside was a strong smell of cleaning detergent as soon as we walked in, which hopefully was only a temporary smell.  Besides those aspects the atmosphere was lively and party like, with good music, functional décor, and unique accent pieces throughout the space.Urban Tap Beer DisplayUrban Tap Interior Decor

Service: Our service was overall very well executed.  Our server Caroline was prompt and funny and engaged us on all levels of hospitality (in small talk, with regard to our food, etc.)  The one aspect of the service that was not up to par was the reservation we couldn’t make, which the host told us was due to a software error.  This error forced us to wait an additional 40 minutes and wasn’t the ideal first impression for those of us who were visiting for the first time.

Quality:  The quality of everything was actually a little beyond my expectations.  I thoroughly enjoyed the drinks that I had, first an amber ale and then a Moscow Mule (my absolute favorite), and the food just continued to enhance the experience.  We ordered a beer cheese risotto for the table and the combination of mac and cheese alongside pretzel flavorings worked so well together.  I ordered a bison burger for myself, and while it came out a little too dry, the meat was well seasoned and the mayo had a tangy, spicy flavor to it that made every bite a little bit more interesting than the last.  For dessert, we all split the carrot cake, and anyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for carrot cake with a rich cream cheese frosting.   Needless to say, this dessert took the cake!

Urban Tap Moscow Mule

Urban Tap Beer Cheese RisottoUrban Tap Bison Burger

 

 

 

 

 

 

Price: Nothing was so overpriced that I was shocked when looking over the bill but be careful how items pile up.  After a few expensive cocktails, an appetizer, entrée, and dessert, you could be looking at a large payment by the end.

Rating: 7.5

Translation: Minus the few flaws at the beginning in terms of the smell, the waiting area, and the reservation system, a gastro pub like this has real potential.

Mark’s Take:  The best part about Urban Tap has to be the food.  In my opinion, this is some of the best food in Pittsburgh for the price.  This is also my second time coming here, and in addition to the beer cheese risotto, the brussels sprouts are to die for!  The most difficult part was the hosting process, as there was nowhere for us to sit during the waiting process and the only reason we even had to wait was because of
the reservation system.  This is definitely a night bar for people 20-35 years old, especially with all the beer choices.  As for my meal, my burger was a little more than medium but the taste was good.  Also, this was some of the best carrot cake I’ve ever had! (agreed Mark, so agreed).Urban Tap Carrot Cake

Mark Pavic is a sophomore from Johnstown, Pennsylvania majoring in Marketing with a Certificate in Digital Media.

Urban Tab gastropub and draft house is a from scratch kitchen with over 140 drafts between its two locations: Shadyside and Southside.  You can find out more about the restaurant and make reservations here: http://www.theurbantap.com/

 

Stack’d with Tim Li

It seems as though now-a-days the customized burger is what is on everyone’s mind.  One walks into a fast casual chain or a sit-down bistro and in addition to a selection of tried and true hamburgers, there is also an option of choosing toppings, buns, sauces and other inStack'dgredients to really make the burger unique to you.  While some restaurants operate in this manner quite successfully (and I hope to review Burgatory in a formal manner soon for that exact reason), other establishments have been less successful.  I can hypothesize on what the reasons are but to really understand why a burger restaurant is either successful or unsuccessful at the customized burger concept, I need to sit down and put the process to the test.  This is just what I did with my good friend Tim at Stack’d in Oakland.

Stack'd

AtmStack'dosphere: Like any true sports bar, the place was lively and hip with a lot of activity.  However, it felt a little more modern with the addition of large flat screen televisions and a sleek, stainless steel interior with simple metal furnishings, very different from a hometown burger joint.

Service: The service was adequate for the venue, nothing so compelling as to warrant a rave review but it definitely got the job done.  The most annoying aspect was how long it took the two of us to get our food, as we waited nearly 30 minutes after ordering to receive our entrees.  Granted, we did order custom Stack'dburgers, but the purpose of reviewing Stack’d was to see how the custom burger restaurant “stacked” up to Stack'dsimilar eateries in the area and I’m not sure that the concept worked here.

Food:  I also thought the food was good but far from exceptional.  I had a regular burger with my customized list of add-ons and toppings but it wasn’t anything that impressed me.  Tim’s chicken burger was also lackluster, even with the “OMFG” sauce.   But, even though there wasn’t anything outstanding about our sandwiches, the orders were nonetheless executed well: my burger was cooked to my specifications, there were plenty of toppings and fries to boot, and I was full by the end of the meal.

Cost:  The burger can be pretty cheap if you stick to what’s included with the initial price.  However, if you load up on the extras, you may find that a $10 burger and fries turns into a $15-17 meal piled so high you can’t see your friend across the table.

The Verdict: 6.5/10

Translation: Go to Stack’d if you want a decent burger, fries, and a shake with some friends on a weekend night.  If you’re in the mood to do anything else, especially if you’re stretched for time, I would head somewhere to a different establishment.

Tim’s Take: For a college town restaurant that serves your basic fast casual fare, you can’t go wrong with a decent burger and fries.  It’s a good place for hanging out with your friends or having a casual time with the family, especially since the environment is so lively.  The best part is obviously the burgers, but the speed and quality of service, which varies considerably from experience to experience, is not ideal.

Tim is a senior Finance major and Economics minor from Broomall, Pennsylvania.

Stack’d is a local Pittsburgh burger restaurant with locations in Oakland, Shadyside, and another one opening in Wexford in the coming winter.  Check out their website here: http://www.stackdpgh.com/