Hubert Keller is a French born and educated chef whose claim to fame in the culinary world is the renown Fleur de Lys restaurants in San Francisco and Las Vegas. However, Keller is also somewhat of an innovative man who jumped into the world of casual dining with the Burger Bar which opened in Las Vegas in 2004. I'd heard about the Burger Bar in Las Vegas and had wanted to try it, but either never had the chance or the time to do so.
Luckily, for me, Keller's second Burger Bar opened late last year at the Lumiere Place casino and hotel along the riverfront in St. Louis (see map). The St. Louis Burger Bar is a mix of casual and class with dark wood paneling, a nice bar area and cozy booths throughout in a mid-20th century motif. I met a friend of mine for lunch at Burger Bar at Lumiere for a good burger one Friday earlier this summer.
The Burger Bar at the casino is in the far southeastern corner of the place. There is an entrance near the restaurant, but it's a long way from the parking lot. If you go through the main doors of the casino, you have to walk all the way around the perimeter of the casino floor to get to the Burger Bar. And when you do walk that way, you'll pass Keller's other restaurant on the property, the upscale SLeeK steak house.
The overall concept of Burger Bar is not all that unique, but the meat, buns and toppings are somewhat unique. You choose from various kinds of beef, turkey, lamb or veggie burgers. They have five different types of buns and a dozen different varieties of cheese to choose from. And they have interesting toppings from black truffles, to beet root pickles, to grilled lobster meat. You can also get pan-seared foie gras, if you like. One of the interesting beef burgers they have to offer is American-raised Kobe beef. It is the best of the three beef offerings Burger Bar has on their burger menu.
The only problem is that a Kobe beef burger at Burger Bar runs $16.00 without the toppings. But as my guest said, "C'mon! At least it's not the Rossini!" He did have a point. The Rossini is a Kobe beef burger with foie gras, truffles, a Madiera sauce. It was *only* $60 dollars. Quite honestly, I thought a basic Kobe beef burger would have been much more expensive.
I ordered up a Kobe beef burger, medium, on an onion bun, topped with pepperjack cheese and jalapenos. My guest got the Kobe beef burger on ciabatta bread, topped with Swiss cheese and chopped oyster mushrooms. We both got fries - I got the skinny fries and my guest got the fat fries, basically Burger Bar's idea of steak fries. And we both got a bottle of Budweiser to wash it all back.
The waitresses were all young, good looking and hip. It wasn't all that busy so the waitress we had was pretty attentive. And it wasn't long before another waitress brought out our burgers and fries.
My Kobe beef pepperjack cheeseburger was cooked a perfect medium. And the burger had a good moist texture to it, as well. The jalapenos weren't all that hot, but made for a nice little kick to the taste of the burger. The fries - I should have gotten the fat fries. The skinny fries were lifeless and not all that tasty. But the burger more than made up for it. Onions, a tomato slice and lettuce accompanied the burger on the side.
My friend's Kobe Swiss cheese burger topped with the grilled mushrooms was reported to be also excellent in taste and quality. I thought the ciabatta bread was a unique twist to the burger. He told me it was fresh and chewy. As much as I liked the in-house-made onion bun, the ciabatta bread on his burger did look good.
With the pepperjack cheese and jalapenos, my Kobe beef burger ended up to be $17.45 before tax. Now, you can get just a regular burger that sells for $8.00, or they have specially raised Black Angus beef burgers that start at $9.00. But I'm glad I gave the Kobe beef burger a try. I don't know if I'll have another one when I go back to Burger Bar, but it will certainly be tempting. Hey, you gotta try it at least once.
(Update - After five years at Lumiere Place, Keller decided not to renew the lease for Burger Bar and the doors closed just before Christmas in 2012. The Las Vegas location is still open and, I'm told, is doing very well.)