How do you like your burger? Well-done, spicy mayo, wilted spinach, and bacon?
How about a turkey burger with broccoli rabe, balsamic dressing, and mozzarella? Or maybe you prefer a veggie burger with avocado and Dijon?
If you like options, then you’ll love the menu at Benny’s Burger Joint, the new concept from Chef Alex Capasso of Blackbird and West Side Gravy.
Benny’s unifies the spot that used to house the two wildly different restaurants within a single, family-friendly establishment. The menu focuses on build-your-own burgers (or suggested combinations), a handful of salads, and milkshakes.
The first thing you’ll notice about Benny’s is the loud décor – literally. Bright, retro murals grace the walls, but the real attention-getters are the vintage arcade games scattered throughout the dining room.
An old Pac-Man table provides extra seating, which could make for a cute teenage date night (the loud game audio would help fill awkward silences!).
Speaking of young diners, we visited on opening weekend and found the place packed with customers of all ages. A middle-aged couple sat down to our left, two teenage boys to our right, and a few families with kids ranging from babies to tweens. The noise level rivaled that of The Pop Shop, but no one seemed to mind.
Jamie ordered his old standard, a well-done burger with bacon and blue cheese. Jessica tried a medium-cooked burger with herbed mayo, Swiss cheese, and a fried egg.
We were happy to see that “burgers” can be made from beef, turkey, roasted pork, chicken breast, Ahi tuna, or homemade veggie burger. We like variety.
Toppings include everything from standards like cheeses, sauces, and veggies, to the more exotic maple syrup, peanut butter and jelly, and prosciutto.
The burger starts at $6.99, going up to 9.99 depending on meat; toppings range from $0.50 up to $4.99. All sandwiches come with chips, but you can substitute any side item for $1.99. We chose fries and mac and cheese.
Our burgers were tasty and seasoned, though we did notice that the patty seemed a little small for the bun. Overall, we were quite happy with the sandwiches themselves.
Jessica won’t pass up an opportunity to add fried egg to a burger, and the herbed mayo added a delicious savory taste. Jamie’s bacon-and-blue cheese combo rivaled that of The Pop Shop. We look forward to the opportunity of trying out different combos in the future.
We caught a peek at a fellow diner’s plate of chips, and they looked like standard bagged chips, not homemade or noteworthy. We ordered hand-cut fries and mac and cheese, hoping they would be the same versions previously served by West Side Gravy.
The fries were delicious, but the mac and cheese was sadly disappointing. Ours came out runny and bland, and with no toasted breadcrumbs. That’s a real shame because the West Side Gravy mac and cheese was a home run. Maybe they can be convinced to return to the old recipe.
We have one minor menu suggestion for the crew. In the 45 or so minutes that we dined at Benny’s, we saw no fewer than four infants (including our own). The restaurant does offer a kid’s menu, but it may behoove them to add a couple of baby-friendly foods to the menu.
We’d gladly have paid a buck for some mashed peas, a banana, or yogurt to keep our 9-month-old from grabbing at the ketchup bottle while we ate.
Although there did seem to be a staffing issue at the launch of the restaurant, a very speedy service and gracious wait staff contributed to our pleasant dining experience.