Monday, August 5, 2013

Gordon Ramsay BurGR, Las Vegas {Restaurant Review}

Ron and I just returned from a week-long getaway to Las Vegas.  The past three months since losing Peyton have taken a toll and we were more than ready for a much needed vacation.  We have been to Las Vegas seven or eight times now.  It tends to be our "go to" place when needing a break from reality.  You can't get much farther from reality than Las Vegas!  Our last trip there, however, was in 2007.  While some things have remained the same as we remembered, there is so much new and exciting going on.

As far as we can tell, it would appear that pubs and burger joints are the thing in Vegas right now.  You can't go very far down the Strip or wandering through casinos without finding yourself in front of one of these establishments.  From diners to more upscale restaurants, you are sure to find plenty of options to tempt your tastebuds if you're in the mood for a burger.  We tend towards more casual dining, but when I saw that chef Gordon Ramsay {of Hell's Kitchen fame} had opened a restaurant on the Strip called BurGR, I knew where we would be dining while in town!

BurGR is located just inside the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.  And by "just inside", I mean literally just inside the entrance to your left as you go in through the entrance marked by the following sign:

We decided to give BurGR a try on Wednesday, July 31.  We arrived during the lunch hour and expected we'd probably have a bit of a wait.  Ron let the hostess know we were a party of two and we stepped into line behind one other party of two.  While we waited, we were able to check out some of the souvenir items available for purchase.

Our wait to be seated was not long at all.  We were greeted by friendly staff and brought to our table.  We were seated at a table for two in the middle of the restaurant with a great view of the kitchen as well as this flame wall facing the casino.

The restaurant design is beautiful.  The ceiling and chairs in the above photo are neutral in tone while much of the rest of the restaurant is appointed in rich reds, orange, and darker natural wood tones.  The restaurant is very comfortably appointed.  Definitely not a "diner" style of burger joint, but not so richly appointed that it feels elitist.  Silverware is wrapped in orange linen napkins.  The menu is tented over top the silverware in the middle of the place mat at each table setting.  Upon opening the menu, you will find Chef Ramsay's image in front of flames before you open again to reveal the menu items.

The menu features Snacks {appetizers}, Greens & Salad, Devil Dawgs, Burgers, Fries, Sugar Fix {desserts}, and Beverages.  Snacks include items such as Fury Chicken Wings, Roasted Jalapeno Poppers, and Honey-Pig Bao Buns.  Prices range from $9-$14.  Salads are $12-$13.  Dawgs are also $12-$13.  Burgers are fall between $13 for the American Burger to $16 for the Euro Burger or the Chanterelle Burger.  Fries are extra and they range from $8-$11.  You can select Just Fries or be a little more adventurous and get the Sweet Potato Fries or the Truffle Parmesan Fries.  Desserts are $7-$9 and non-alcoholic Beverages are $4-$5.  Sound pricey to you?  Perhaps for the casual diner, it seems a little pricey.  However, for dining in a restaurant on the Strip, I found the prices to be reasonable, especially considering that Gordon Ramsay's name is attached to this particular restaurant.

We opted to skip the Snacks and go right to the meal.  As we watched meals being delivered to other tables, we decided that the portions were large and, should we want to sample the Sugar Fix portion of the menu, we might need to save a little extra room.  Our waitress {Wendy} brought an iPad to our table with alcoholic drink options to peruse.  We opted for Iced Tea {non-sweetened is how it comes} and Mountain Dew.

We placed our meal order and sat back, enjoying our beverages while people and food watching.  We were told upon placing our order that the burgers would take about 20 minutes once the order was sent to the kitchen.  Whether it took a little longer or not, I did not notice.  We were simply enjoying each other's company and the sights around us.  The wait staff was very attentive during this time, and throughout our meal, making sure our drinks were filled at all times.

Ron actually did order from the "Snacks" section - the Beer Battered Maui Onion Rings {$9}, which were brought with the rest of the meal.  These were not your typical onion rings.  They were served with parmigiano-reggiano and sides of chipotle ketchup and cheddar ranch dip.

I sampled an onion ring.  This was probably one of the best onion rings I have tasted.  Ron enjoyed them as well.  Onion rings, I find, often tend to be grease-laden.  These were not.  The batter was cripsy and the parmigiana-reggiano and seasonings made these a little different than other onion rings I've tried.  They were very good.  The chipotle ketchup and cheddar ranch dip were wonderful compliments to these onion rings.  I enjoyed both, but have to say the ranch dip was my favorite.

I ordered Just Fries {$8} to go with my burger.  Just fries are hand cut and are served with chipotle ketchup and curry ketchup.  I was mis-heard and was brought the Truffle Parmesan Fries {$11}.  While I am sure that they would be very good, I did let the server know that I had, in fact, asked for the Just Fries.  The server was very apologetic and fixed the mistake fairly quickly.  Before too long, I had a fresh order of piping hot Just Fries set before me.

According to Gordon Ramsay BurGR's page on the Planet Hollywood site:
"...fries will be hand-cut and thrice cooking will ensure extra crispness. Additionally, the restaurant will break the mold of the typical Russet potato fry and use Kennebec potatoes offering a lighter, less starchy and crisper fry—perfect for the signature curry ketchup and chipotle ketchup."
I have to say that these fries are probably the best I have ever had.  Ron and I both love "steak fries"- bigger, fatter fries as opposed to skinny little french fry "sticks" most fast food restaurants serve.  BurGR's fries did not disappoint.  There was a definite difference noticed because of the type of potato used.  The only way Ron and I could describe the texture was that they seemed more "meaty" than your average fry.  The chipotle ketchup was delicious.  It had a bit of a kick to it, but was not overpowering at all.  The curry ketchup was also very good, but had a more "bold" taste to it.  I enjoyed it, but favored the chipotle ketchup.  I also enjoyed dipping my fries in Ron's cheddar ranch dip from his onion rings.

The main dish, of course, were the burgers.  Prior to our visit to BurGR, we'd looked at online reviews.  We came across youtube videos for Jack On the Go's Burger Wars.  The 12th installment of Burger Wars pitted Gordon Ramsay BurGR against another establishment.  BurGR won and kept winning right through the 16th installment where it beat out another Gordon Ramsay restaurant called The Fat Cow.  You can watch that 12th episode here so you can see what they thought of BurGR.

Ron ordered the Farm Burger.  This is the same burger that was featured in the above Burger Wars episode.  For $15, the Farm Burger is a burger topped with duck breast bacon, English sharp cheddar and a fried egg.  One bite in, and he realized that this burger was the best hamburger patty he had ever eaten.  This burger has an excellent smoky flavor.  The meat just melts in your mouth.  Ron said that the fried egg and the duck breast bacon were nice compliments to the burger, but the patty itself was excellent and could stand on its own as the best burger.  Ron chose to add grilled onion to his burger; however, in the end he felt like that was probably a poor decision because the flavors of the burger {as is on the menu} were so beautifully combined to great a unified flavor that the addition of the onions kind of threw that balance off a bit, overpowering the burger.

Of the two of us, I am the more picky eater.  Ron made the assumption that I would play it safe and order the American Burger {$13 with American cheese, butter lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion}.  I threw him a curveball when I did not make that selection.  Instead, I chose the Britannia Burger {$14}.  This burger is topped with English sharp cheddar, a mango chutney and arugula.

One bite in, and I was in heaven!!  First of all, the Brioche sesame buns are so light and tasty.  I've eaten a lot of burgers and have never really given much thought to the actual bun other than that it is a conveyance used to get the burger from plate to mouth.  Sure there are different types of buns, but I never thought about how dense they are.  The buns used at BurGR seem lighter and more "airy", if you will.  As for the burger itself, the blend of flavors was so beautifully crafted that it truly tasted like I was eating a work of art.  I believe one Jack On the Go video also used that to describe the Farm Burger.

The hamburger patty is apparently a blend of a few different meats, so it's not your typical burger right from the start.  I ordered my burger medium well, which is not something I usually do.  I usually go with "well done" because I don't generally trust that a lot of restaurants know the difference between medium, medium well, and well done.  I play it safe and go with well done, assuming that if I ordered any less well done, there'd still be a little too much "moo" left in my burger.  However, given that I was in a Gordon Ramsay establishment, I put my trust in the fact that if his name is on it, it will be cooked to perfection, as ordered.  I ordered my burger medium well.  It was perfectly done.

There were no condiments on my Britannia Burger.  This is also something that you would not normally find me doing.  I ate the burger exactly how it came.  In fact, there are no condiments on the table and it didn't even occur to me to ask.  Anything else on this burger would have destroyed it.  It was without a doubt the absolute best hamburger I have ever eaten in my life.  The flavors blended so perfectly together.  I have never eaten something that was so beautifully crafted.  This was no ordinary hamburger.

The manager, Scott, came by and introduced himself and asked how everything was.   I was, of course, mid-bite, but I shared how much I was enjoying my meal.  I mentioned that I blogged and would like to do a review because it was so good.  I asked if I could possibly take a menu home.  I wanted to be able to get everything correct when I wrote the review.  He obliged.  Shortly after, our server {Wendy} came by.  She said she heard that I blogged and wanted to offer a shake, on the house, so that I could add a dessert item to the review as well.

I perused the shakes under the "Sugar Fix" section of the menu and went with Shake #1 {$9}, which is caramel pudding, a chocolate shake, topped with whipped cream and a toffee cookie.  It was brought to our table with two straws in it.  After the meal we'd eaten, this shake was more than enough for the two of us.  We ate the cookie first.  It was quite good.  Then we started in on the pudding with our spoons. The caramel pudding was so good!  After a few bites, we went with the straws.  One sip of this shake and, again, felt like I was tasting a little piece of heaven.  First of all, the chocolate ice cream in the shake is no grocery store ice cream.  I love chocolate and this chocolate shake was amazing.  The combination of the caramel with the shake was dessert perfection.  While we did not have to pay for this surprise addition to our meal, I would gladly put out the $9 in the future to have this again.

To recap our dining experience, Ron and I tried the Beer Battered Maui Onion Rings, Just Fries, the Farm Burger, and the Britannia Burger, topped with a Shake #1 for dessert.  I commented on facebook that it's all downhill from here, as this was the best meal I think I have ever had.  I also said that if I should ever find myself needing to request a final meal, this would be it.  Hands down, this was the absolute best burger I have ever had.  From the friendly staff to the incredible food and overall dining experience, everything was wonderful.  Our final bill came to $79 for lunch, but $20 of that was for the two souvenir glasses we purchased {$10 each, same as the one pictured above, except the souvenir version has the BurGR logo on it}.  We had plenty of meals on the Strip during the week we were in Las Vegas and none of them compared to this one, and that includes a lunch at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill located down the Strip at Caesars Palace {still an excellent meal...more on that one later}.

If you love burgers and you happen to be in Las Vegas, I would say that Gordon Ramsay BurGR at Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino should be included in your itinerary while you're in town.  The price may seem steep to some, but considering the experience, the quality of the food, and the chef whose name backs this restaurant, you are getting very good value for your money.  You'll be hard-pressed to find burgers, fries, onion rings and a shake of comparable quality anywhere.  The only thing that would have made the experience better would have been if Chef Ramsay himself had been there.

Have you been to BurGR yet?  How was your experience?  Comment below to share your thoughts!  I have also reviewed Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill.  You can check that out here.

Note:  Our visit to BurGR was something Ron and I decided to do while in Las Vegas.  I was not asked to review our experience.  I  did identify myself as a blogger who would love to write a review and, after that, was provided a complimentary dessert so I could include that as part of my review.  Outside of that, I was not compensated in any way for this review.  The views expressed are strictly my own.  Links to Jack On the Go youtube videos can be clicked on in the review above.  I provided those as a reference to the reviews we had looked up online prior to making our decision to have lunch at BurGR.  I am not affiliated with Jack On the Go.

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