The yellow awnings heralding the arrival of Park Slope’s latest addition emphasized the long arm of Manhattan dining trends, in this case the recent influx of burger joints dotting the city’s restaurant scene. Theoretically, the formula works: accessible, kid-friendly comfort-food in a prime location sure to attract hoardes of evening commuters. It worked for Smiling Pizza, the mediocre joint that has held court in the same intersection for more than 20 years. And it still might work for Brooklyn Burger Bar — the place has hosted a considerable crowd since its December 21 opening. Convenience, it seems, goes a long way for hungry Slopesters.
Fans of the late Bar Minnow will be happy to see that the space has retained much of its narrow, tenement charm. The ceilings are tin, the walls are rustic red brick — in fact there are seldom few visible differences between BBB and its previous incarnation, famously dismal service not excepted.
The menu is honest (unwittingly, perhaps) in that, unlike its Manhattan predecessors, BBB wouldn’t have us believe that their burgers transcend the standards put forth by 24-hour diners nationwide. The beef isn’t grass fed, the cheese isn’t artisanal, it’s unlikely that the “chicken tenders," one of seven starters, are hand-breaded, and the only discernable wink is a selection of milkshakes which, despite their grotesque fishbowl presentation, have none of the irony of the classic sodas and kitschy cocktails of BBB’s burger brethren. The only flourish might be the bun: brioche and just above par. At its core, BBB is an everyman’s joint—every man, that is, for himself.
There was nary a request that went smoothly fulfilled during Gothamist’s recent weeknight meals. Beverages came wrongly or not at all, toppings — like the sickly cloying caramelized onions — seemed to be parceled out arbitrarily, and meat temperatures vacillated wildly between bloody and charcoal and back again. When a burger ordered medium with onions came nearly raw and piled skyward with sundried tomatoes, we were left to rally for assistance from a disinterested staffer.
Eventually though, the service seemed to hit a stride, albeit an extraordinarily slow one, and there seemed to be light at the end of the restaurant’s very long tunnel. The verdict? We’ll grant BBB enough leeway to chalk it up to a rocky start. But for now at least, we’re sticking to Johnny Mack’s.
Brooklyn Burger Bar
444 9th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215