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If you haven’t eaten at the American Burger Bar & Beer Boutique yet, you should. Combination foodie haven and bottle shop, the place (3208 Latta Rd., Greece, NY) will be celebrating its one year birthday this Saturday (August 8th). When asked if there was anything special they wanted readers to know, the owners, Tyler, Chris, and Greg, mentioned the variety on their menu.
At first glance, hamburgers and grilled cheese dominate the food offerings. And with entries like the Holy Grail; a monstrous bacon burger with grilled cheese sandwiches in place of buns, and the Cordon Bleu; a grilled Swiss cheese sandwich with chicken, Canadian bacon and Dijon mustard (Tyler’s grandma’s favorite sandwich, but without the Dijon), it’s easy to ignore other categories. Though creative takes on the hamburger are a major focus, these guys offer plenty of other options. The menu also includes soups and salads, and it wouldn’t be a Rochester restaurant if they didn’t have their own take on “plates.” If you want to know what that means, check out this Huffington Post article on garbage plates.
At the American Burger Bar, a Patriot Plate is your choice of two proteins, and two sides, together on a plate. Or in a 32 oz cup, if you’re going for the Colony Cup. If it’s your birthday, they give you one of those, on the house.
Don’t like Angus beef? No problem. Protein substitutions are free of charge, and include grilled chicken, Portobello mushroom, or veggie patties. I don’t see why anyone would ruin a perfectly good burger by putting a veggie patty on it, but to each his own.
Oh yeah, there are a bunch of side options, too. The loaded tots are one of my favorites, and Tyler recommends the potato bites. Also, fried ravioli. I haven’t tried that one yet, but I might just have to. Not into fried stuff? I already mentioned green salads, and they’ve got coleslaw and potato salad, too.
And speaking of choice, the bottle cooler takes up most of one wall, and holds a ridiculous selection of craft beers, a tidy array of craft sodas, and some more mundane libations; water, mass-produced sodas, juices. If you’re looking for a pint on tap, Tyler’s got you covered. Yeah, there are two other partners, but apparently they spend most of their time in the back, creating deliciousness or something. Tyler (who had quite a respectable beard when I met him last year, but has apparently decided it’s too warm, or some such) is the front man of the operation, and a pretty cool guy.
During the last (hellishly long and cold) winter, I was really into big beers, especially Russian Imperial Stouts. Tyler picked up on this quickly, and soon he was telling me about the latest dark beers in his inventory as soon as I stepped up to the bar. They keep six beers on tap, with a good mix of breweries, near and far. When I was there two days ago, their tap selection included Dogfish Head American Beauty, Ovila Quad by Sierra Nevada, and Galaxy #42 ESB. The week before, they had Dogfish Head Midas Touch, and over the winter, Evil Twin brews were a regular presence. And in case someone who prefers wine somehow stumbled onto this blog, the American Burger Bar has Copa Di Vino (Ben and I first saw those sealed, portable, wine glasses s a few years ago while on vacation near Hood River, Oregon. It’s neat to see that the idea has taken off).
They didn’t name it the American Burger Bar for nothin’. An enormous reproduction of John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence” hangs on one wall, opposite the aforementioned beer cooler. Travel posters for iconic destinations like Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon are dotted around the place, and the simple furniture gives it a rustic-industrial atmosphere. Did I mention that the restaurant is tiny? With only 24 seats (plus some sidewalk seating, for an almost European feel), the place fills up quickly during peak times. But that’s okay; they take call-ahead orders, too.
The American Burger Bar dudes have taken two American classics, the burger and the grilled cheese, and turned them into unique experiences. With entries like the Doughnut Burger, the Peanut Butter Burger, and the Porky Pig grilled cheese, you can be sure that you’re not getting the same thing everyone in town has. It’s gourmet, alfresco dining, without the fuss. Seriously. Each order is packaged to go; all the sandwiches come on a paper plate wrapped in tin foil, and catsup and mustard are self-serve.
Not everywhere that has good beer is somewhere you’d want to take your kids, or your grandma. But the American Burger Bar, yeah. I see families in there all the time. Smaller menu items such as the Plane Jane grilled cheese and chicken fingers are perfect for kids (or sometimes, for me), and bottled craft sodas are a fun treat to wash it down with. In short, the American Burger Bar & Beer Boutique is a family-friendly foodie joint that, as Ben put it, is “super exclusive [because of limited seating], not super expensive.”
As previously mentioned, it’s their anniversary on Saturday, so be sure to watch their Facebook page for secret menu options and other announcements.