Stepping into the newly renovated Bareburger on 31st Avenue tonight sent me spinning back in time. Suddenly I was standing on the corner, staring at the whimsical bear-on-a-unicycle logo, wondering what this new place opening in the neighborhood would be like.
Maybe it is because the new design harkens back to the original design, or the fact that it was pretty quiet and low key when I stepped in from the icy cold. Either way, it reminded me of my first ever meals at Bareburger, in a space about a quarter of the current size with only a smattering of customers.
Since the opening of that first location in Astoria, Bareburger, with its focus on all natural and organic ingredients, has been an absolutely astonishing success. Now with 17 locations, they just recently opened out of state restaurants in Philadelphia and Danbury, Connecticut.
But tonight I was back at that very first location to check out their new bar and try one of their brand new cocktails. After mulling over the list of drinks named after ecological and agricultural icons like Rachel Carson and Eli Whitney, I settled on the César Chavéz, a delicious concoction featuring pura vida reposado tequila with apple cider, a maple salt rim, and a cinnamon stick for swizzling.
The new bar also features novel Kelvin Slush Machines which add a variety of “Virgin” and “Spiked” Slushes to the drink menu (they will undoubtedly be a huge hit when Astoria finally thaws). Two Kelvin Slushes, Ginger or Citrus, form the base of all the drinks which include a Dark n’ Stormy and Ginger Margarita among others. Rounding out the new bar offerings are a somewhat bigger beer (tap and bottle) and wine selection. The Bronx Pale Ale is new to the taps and a personal favorite New York City brew.
A few new menu items have been added as well, including a significantly expanded dessert list. The friendly bartender John recommended his favorite, the Flourless Chocolate Cake with sour cherry compote, which sounded like a nice nod to the neighborhood’s Greek roots. I’m very much looking forward to getting back to try it.
When I left, the restaurant was filling up with the clamor of happy, hungry Astorians, a reminder of both Bareburger’s success, and of how it became so successful in the first place.