Interestingly, I was eating with pescatarians on my first visit to chefBURGER (which I first blogged about in March), and so I played along. Two of us got the two vegetarian burgers – the Black Bean Burger ($6.99) and the Crispy Falafel Burger ($6.99). One of us got the Ahi Tuna Burger ($8.99). And, yet another, who was less forgiving of our friends’ dietary restrictions got the Turkey Burger ($7.99), which had been recently added to the restaurant’s initial opening menu. So, no beef patty at our party.
But, I don’t need a beef patty to determine whether a place knows how to make a burger or not when ancillary issues are so troubling that it doesn’t matter what kind of patty they slipped between the buns.
General observations: TOO MUCH CONDIMENT!!! Why is it that when you ask for them to “go easy” on something, they end up slopping on more than they normally would?
So, we had Srirachi aioli, Srirachi coleslaw, mayonnaise, cranberry chutney, and pickled ginger coleslaw oozing out of, off of, onto, and all over everything. I think that chefBURGER might be an environmental hazard alone, what with the amount of napkins sacrificed to the cause of burger eating. I mean, had I been at home, naked, maybe I wouldn’t mind what dropped where. But, seeing how I was in public, I was trying to keep myself from devolving into a complete slob.
This was especially unfortunate, because otherwise, the “burgers” were perfectly delightful. The buns (where there were buns–the Turkey Burger was really a slumming sandwich) were slightly sweet – I liked that, actually. The meats (or vegetables) were cooked properly. The dressings were fresh.
The Crispy Falafel was indeed crispy. It was also flavorful, with a hit of appreciable and appreciated heat. It was sandwiched with fresh spinach, cucumber, tomato, and Srirachi coleslaw. Srirachi coleslaw is basically a Srirachi-tinged mayonnaise-laden coleslaw. The emphasis being on the mayonnaise. I tasted no Srirachi. I mean, if you’ve already you’re already in the Mediterranean with falafel, tomato, lettuce and cucumber, why not go the whole way and just do some yogurt or sour cream? I guess that’s why it’s chefBURGER, and I’m not the chef.
Then there was the Grilled Ahi Tuna Burger, which was completely coated in aioli. The inside of the hefty (I’m guessing 6 oz.) tuna steak, however, was perfectly cooked to order; my friend got it rare. It came with a pickled ginger coleslaw, which was really flavorful, the small bit that managed to not be glopped with Srirachi aioli, which, like the Srirachi coleslaw, tasted nothing like Srirachi. Did I mention there was a lot of it?
The Turkey Burger ($7.99) was not really a burger. I think it’s supposed to be some kind of witty riff on Thanksgiving. The turkey patty, which was flavorful and moist, was *sandwiched* between grilled bread, topped with Swiss cheese, cranberry chutney (which soaked through the bread), tomato, lettuce, mayonnaise, more mayonnaise, and then some mayonnaise.
I didn’t get to taste the Black Bean burger. It came with tomato, lettuce, pickle, and red onion. Oh, and it also was generously treated with “Chef Sauce,” which was – you guessed it, some mayonnaise-based condiment. I guess my friend liked it; she wouldn’t share.
The sweet potato fries were good, but not the best I’ve had. The garlic-parsley waffle fries were also good, though way too greasy. I’d be fooling myself to think that fries are health food, but there’s no need for pooling grease. Again, the napkin crew came to the rescue.
The milkshakes were watery and thin. I prefer mine thicker. They weren’t so thin that one could (easily) slurp it through a straw. Yet, eating it with a spoon was equally awkward – it was just too thin to hold on a spoon. I’m pretty sure they use soft serve as a base. I don’t know what milkfat their milk is–I wouldn’t be surprised if they used whole. I do give them credit for using Shatto dairy. The flavors we tried–pina colada, strawberry-pina colada, and cappuccino–were all very good.
Next time, I’m going to try one of their “spiked” milkshakes – the “B52″ (Kahlua, Bailey’s, Grand Marnier, and vanilla ice cream), “Alabama Slama” (Ameretto, Southern Comfort, butter-pecan ice cream, and Heath Bar), and the “Buttery Nipple” (Frangelico, Bailey’s, caramel ice cream, and Butterfinger) all sound great. I might have to have a wheelchair waiting for me.
Strangely, the highlight of this meal for me was the Spinach Salad ($5.99), which was pre-boxed in a plastic to-go container and kept in a refrigerated case, along with the other salads (there’s also a Caesar, a “Classic Wedge,” a Chinese Chicken Salad, and a Chicken Cobb Salad–not sure whether the chicken is grilled and added to order or if it’s cold).
Densely packed, the fresh baby spinach was generously laced with dried cranberries, sweet toasted pecans, and creamy nubbins of goat cheese. In a separate sealed cup was some vinaigrette.
Was I disappointed? Yes. Was it disappointment beyond redemption? Definitely not. I mean, the space-age cafeteria atmospherics are less than ideal, but I’m sure I’ll be back. There are plenty of more burgers–namely beef patties–I need to try. I also need to get a second pass at the sides: onion rings, chili cheese waffle fries, tater tots, and jalepeno poppers. They’ve also got mini corn dogs and black bean chorizo chili. And, there are a few other salads I’d like to check out.
In the meantime, I hope they thicken up their milkshakes and yank back on the condiments. They might tighten up their ordering system as well. We had more than a couple of misfires.
Power & Light District
1350 Walnut Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64105