Burger and Barrel- Mystery on Houston

View Gallery


Buttons Undone

Pants at a Glance
  • scene: Man-caveish and warmly lit; lots of wood and casual/cool touches- not kitschy but not completely organic
  • sip: Beer; wine; cocktail list left a little to be desired
  • savor: Classic Burger; Fries
  • sit: With patient people; small groups of people that like to share and try things; vegetarians are welcome, the veggie burger seems to be a hit
  • spend: $$
  • address: 25 West Houston (between Greene and Mercer)
  • phone number: (212)334-7320
  • website: www.burgerandbarrel.com

If a wine glass sits empty for ages, and a server never notices, is it really empty?

Who doesn’t love a mystery? There is nothing like a real whodunnit that keeps you gripped until the last second. However in the tale of “Who at Burger and Barrel is Waiting on Me?”, there was no resolution, no big reveal at the end to make all of the guessing and frustration worth it.  There wasn’t even anyone to bitch at! This all of course just adds to the mystery of the place; how does a restaurant with absolutely no service exist?

Our story begins on an unseasonably warm night in March; our Pantstagonist and her sidekick are excited to try Burger and Barrel, both being fans of Josh Capon and his burger at Lure.  Burger and Barrel, as is the trend now, seems to be a mecca of all things fairly down-home and deliciously caloric.  The soon to be scene of the crime is all dark wood and cozily lit, perfect for slinging back some burger and bourbons (or in some  cases, some Champagne and veggie burgers, but whatever). The bar area is a little cramped, with not a lot of room to stand if all of the stools are taken.  The tables are also pretty close together, but it all sort of works, and our heros venture onward.

When our heros sit, they are eager for food and drinks, but alas, the night is as still as the dew in the early morning.  Parched and starving, our heros look around for any sign of relief, a sweet beacon of hope in the form of a server yielding a water pitcher.  They can harldly believe their eyes when such a pitcher arrives, in the confident and sturdy hands of someone in uniform.  While water is delivered quickly, our heroes are quickly rebuffed in their search for alcohol, as the mysteriously accented man reveals himself to be simply a food runner, who can not take drink orders.  He ventures onward to find their waiter.   Eager to meet this waiter, our heros wait wait and wait, until pains of hunger and slight alcohol withdrawal threaten to consume them.  When the waiter finally arrives, he takes a seat at the table, as if it were at TGI Fridays, and takes the order.  Hope of a successful dining experience restored, our heroes are filled with the promise of imminent food and drinks. Several minutes later, the lack of alcohol is still troubling, when yet again the trusty food runner finally delivers on this promise.  Briefly sated, our heros begin the wait for their crab and spinach dip, which again is delivered by the food runner.  This dish is good enough, with lots of spinach and cream, and a parmesan crust.  The crab and potato chunks remind our heroes of a seafood chowder.

When the wine glasses are once again empty, the familiar wait begins.  They are once again ignored, as the seafood dip sits and sits untouched for quite some time.  Suddenly, the server arrives again, magically transformed into a female form.  This cranky server takes the drink order, and almost promptly returns with one full glass of champagne, and an empty wine glass.  The wine glass sits empty for ages, as the spinach dip begins to congeal, and our heroes begin shift and look around the room for anyone that can give them an ounce of attention.  One of our eagle-eyed heroes sees the bartender pouring her wine into a tiny carafe, and watches as it sits on the bar for forever, driving our hero to contemplate getting up and getting ti herself.  Finally, the server, still in female form, arrives to deliver the wine, stating (falsely) that she can not control the bar and the bar took forever.  Her powers of serving and lying are both weak.  After a few more years, our heroes begin to wonder if the table two down from them got their meal, because the order was identical. With no apology or acknowledgement of the wait, the food is finally sent in from the Kitchen Gods.  The Classic Burger really is all that, a bite of Americana with lettuce, tomatoes, melty American cheese and special sauce, and our heroes devour that as well as a veggie burger.  The fries thrill our heroes, who once again drain their wine glasses and sit with their plates forever.  At some point into this meal of the ages, the server transforms yet again into a different female form, who is slightly more proficient in delivering wine.

Fatigued and finally full, our heroes are thrown a dessert menu from an invisible spirit, but choose to skip the sweets because it is getting close to breakfast at this point.  The invisible spirit once again delivers the check, which the heroes pay and leave never knowing: Who was our server?  Or more importantly, Who is getting our tip?

Note: The Buttons undone for this review refer only to the food, not for the service.  Mystery server gets no unbuttoning…

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *