Words and Photographs by Seth Birkenmeyer
I love a good burger; they help me maintain such a great body, after all.
Richmond has no shortage of solid burger joints, either. Carytown Burgers and Fries is a prime example of one, so needless to say, I was skeptical about whether or not the nearby Burger Bach could really compete. It does stand out, however, and although it is a bit pricy and it is not perfect, it is a good choice for when you feel like treating yourself.
The most unique aspect of Burger Bach is its New Zealand inspiration. Although the menu is sorely lacking in Middle-earth puns, their beef comes from New Zealand. I am still not entirely sure what about that is so special, but their ingredients are free from hormones, antibiotics and steroids.
The menu claims a “unique, healthy and guilt-free dining experience,” but you should take that with one of the many grains of salt that come with whatever meal you choose at Burger Bach.
The restaurant’s pleasant atmosphere stands out. The warm lighting, tin interior and friendly workers complement each other nicely.
The adjacent parking lot is also a noteworthy luxury, especially for those of you averse to parallel parking.
The food incorporates quality ingredients in a variety of unique dishes, although it is a little pricy.
Lamb and chicken dishes are available if you would rather avoid red meat. They offer a veggie burger, salads and a handful of sides if you do not want meat at all, but there are numerous better places to go if that is what you are looking for.
The menu offers basic burgers, as well as more elaborate, distinctive concoctions. The Wellington, with New Zealand blue cheese, HP-brand sauce, sautéed mushrooms, onions and garlic aioli, sounds like a godsend.
The Aucklander’s combination of avocado relish, mayo, bacon, New Zealand Egmont cheese, Dijonnaise and mixed greens sounds almost overwhelming.
I opted for the East Coast burger; it mixes blueberry chipotle BBQ sauce, bacon, onions and garlic aioli.
It might seem like Burger Bach loves using some of the same ingredients, and that becomes all too clear when the burger arrives drenched in condiments. The beef itself is delicious, lean and cooked to your liking (“pink” or “no pink” are your options). The toppings do complement it nicely, too, except for the random bites that are more garlic aioli or BBQ than meat. This can be overwhelming for your taste buds. Other bites are totally lacking in anything but beef. It was still a satisfying meal, but the condiments could have been better spread out and more balanced.
My friend and I split a “Fry Indulgence,” basically Burger Bach’s elaborate take on cheese fries. Ours came with New Zealand triple cream blue cheese, bacon and garlic aioli. I may have overdosed on my daily intake of bacon and aioli, but “indulgence” is right in the name. The fries were great, aside from suffering from the same problem as the burger, with the toppings not being spread out well. Correcting this gets messy real fast.
Perhaps the greatest testament to the quality of the ingredients is how I felt after the meal was over. Anyone who has been to Five Guys has thought something along the lines of, “This is what death feels like.” Despite all the red meat and fatty sauces I had just devoured, I did not fall victim to a food coma. Although I am sure my body did not appreciate what I had just put it through, it did not feel like it.
The best way to sum up Burger Bach is unfortunately not my own metaphor, but that of the friend I went with. He compared the food to a jazz band with many talented members, slightly brought down because all of the individual parts are trying to be the star in lieu of working together to form a better whole. I found that to describe the restaurant’s food perfectly. It is pretty damn good, but it could always be better.