Thursday, September 15, 2016

Burger Venue Food Review

Original (Double) Burger

A lot has changed since I reviewed Kraze Burger (in downtown Bethesda) almost four years ago. For starters, all of their DMV locations have closed. No small wonder, given the last five words of my review, "Worst burger joint in town." One location, lives on (sort of) at Westfield Montgomery, under a new name and ownership. Burger Venue looks and tastes familiar, with one notable exception... Customer service. Today's visit was pleasant. Not spectacular, mind you, but miles ahead of where it used to be. Progress is good: Let's dig deeper.

At first glance, you might easily mistake Burger Venue for Kraze Burger; and I suppose that's the idea. The color scheme is still green, and the menu is almost identical, minus the chaotic myriad of choices (buns, cheese, protein and sauces.) BV has trimmed its roster to nine different signature burgers, two salads and a few sides. That's a lot more manageable, especially in a busy food court.

French Fries

Service is a lot better too. Gill ably manned the front of house, processing my order for a #1 Original Burger with Original Sauce, lettuce, onion, pickles and tomato (no mayo.) All burgers come single or double, and I urge you to think small and stick with the former. Two patties is too much to handle, yet alone fit in your mouth... and I've been told I have a pretty big mouth (insert insult here.) A double Original sets you back a mere $7.75 (affordable.) Add Fries and a fountain drink to the equation, and the price rises to $11.75. Not bad.

Wait times are relatively short (about five minutes) especially for a MEDIUM-WELL burger. Portions are generous, and the burger looks mighty imposing... even with a sword pick sticking out of the top bun. The burger was cooked perfectly, which was a noticeable improvement over Kraze's uneven product back in 2012. Toppings were fresh (especially the stack of raw onions) but the meat still lacks seasoning. How's the bun? Tasty, but undersized: My burger broke apart midway through. Perhaps a kaiser roll would be more practical, especially for double burgers? Just a thought.

Fries were hot and plentiful, but (once again) light on seasoning. Skin-on is a good idea, but they could be (a lot) crispier. As is, not flimsy, but there's room for improvement. To be fair, BV offers Cajun, Chili Cheese, Parmesan and Sweet Potato Fries (in addition to Onion Rings) although I'm sure you'd have to pay more to include them in the combo deal. Next time, I'll ask.

Eating in the food court is a joy, compared to years past. BV does its part as well, with tiny details like flexible straws for an especially tasty lemonade. It's not out of the woods yet (crispier fries, salt and pepper) but at least there's hope. To be continued.

Atmosphere: C+ (It's still a food court, but a smile goes a long way.)
Burger: C+ (This close to a B-, but a lack of seasoning is hard to overlook.)
Fries: C+ (Nice and hot, but light on salt and not crispy.)
Price: B- (Prices have gone up. Then again, it's been four years.)
Service: B- (Much better than before.)
Overall: C+ (Definitely headed in the right direction.)