One early January morning as I was crossing the Las Vegas Strip from the Mirage over to the Venetian to go work our suites during the Consumer Electronics Show, I saw a digital billboard on the side of the Venetian touting B&B Burger and Beer - a new restaurant venture under the umbrella of the Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group headed by celebrity chef Mario Batali and his partners, Joe Bastianich, and Joe's mother - author, television host and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich. Well, I got the chance to eat there not once, but twice in the same day.
B&B Burger and Beer opened in December of 2013, a full month before we visited the place. Going there in early January went against my rule of never visiting a new restaurant for the first 90 days of its existence, but I didn't know that it had only been open a bit over 30 days until after my visit. Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich - who also run B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca Pizzeria at the Venetian, as well as Carnevino in the attached hotel/casino the Palazzo - had announced in the summer of 2013 their intentions to open their burger place in early September of last year. But a $900,000 renovation of the space that formerly housed the short-lived Rattlecan burger joint took a little longer than anticipated. Batali and Bastianich opened B&B Burger and Beer in early December of last year.
Now, the Las Vegas burger scene is crowded with a myriad of burger joints owned by celebrity chefs - and some of them aren't too good. Other high profile burger joints have opened over the past couple three years making Las Vegas a burger lovers destination. It was with a bit of trepidation that I took my dealer and his salesguy to B&B Burger and Beer for lunch on the last day of the Consumer Electronics Show. It was so new that I was having trouble finding the place on a map of the Venetian property. I finally asked a security guard where it was and he told me it was behind the poker room at the Venetian and directly across from the sports book. My dealer had spent many an hour playing poker in the Venetian's poker room and I knew where the sports book was as I had slipped away from our suites to watch an Iowa Basketball game a year ago.
Upon finding the place, we found that it has a separate outside window - B&B Burger and Beer 2 Go - along with a small indoor patio area that looks onto the sports book. (There's also an outdoor patio that butts up against Las Vegas Blvd., a.k.a. The Strip - but it was closed off that day.) A long bar was off to the right hand side of the restaurant as you come in. Nearly two dozen flat screen televisions tuned to sporting events are on the walls of the burger joint.
We were seated at a table with a banquette wall seat along the back wall of the restaurant. Menus were left off with us by the young hostess. In addition to burgers, the menu features hero-style sandwiches consisting of pastrami, meat ball, chicken, sausage, and lobster rolls. Appetizers of unfried mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, fried oysters with remoulade sauce, and shishito peppers with a garlicky Romesco sauce were available, as well.
We were greeted by our server, Jared - an earnest young man with a quick smile. He took our drink orders. I wanted a beer and the hostess didn't drop off a beer menu. Jared went to get one. It took him more than three minutes to bring one back. That was kind of the fore-bearer of the level of service we'd see from him.
On the Sunday night we all got into Las Vegas, after setting up a good portion of our suites we had a ritualistic dinner at I ♥ Burgers located in the Grand Canal Shoppes of the Venetian/Palazzo. (Click here to see my entry on I ♥ Burgers) It was our third straight year we've gone to I ♥ Burgers because the burgers are good, they have a good beer selection and it's close. The only problem this year is that we found they paired down - by more than half - many of the eclectic beers they offered at I ♥ Burgers. Well, B&B Burger and Beer has picked up the craft beer gauntlet (it can't say "beer" in its name if they don't have a good selection of beers). While the beer menu isn't as extensive as I ♥ Burgers' used to be, it still features a number of local and California craft beers in bottles and on draft.
My neighbor back in Davenport, Greg, is a big fan of the Ballast Point beers out of San Diego and they had the Ballast Point Calico Amber on draft. I ordered that. My two guests ordered diet pop.
Beer menu at B&B Burgers and Beer - click for larger size.
B&B Burger and Beer sources their beef from the same local purveyor that supplies their sister restaurant Carnevino Italian Steakhouse. The beef is ground in house and hand-pattied into 6 oz. patties. They use a variety of buns for their burgers - sesame seed, pretzel, ciabatta and even a potato bun. You can build your own burgers using cheese selections such as Swiss, American, pepperjack, gorgonzola, Fontana and even goat cheese. Toppings include pickled peppers, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, avocado and chili. They also feature a number of sauces including either a balsamic or chianti mustard, jalapeno pesto, or a truffle aioli.
Their signature burgers include the Morning After with a fried egg, Fontana cheese, truffle aioli, and sauteed mushrooms. The amusingly named Bottom Burner was topped with pepperjack cheese, Mario Batali's hot sauce, onion rings and jalapeno pesto. And the Royale with Cheese featured Robiola cheese, a grilled Treviso raddichio, caramelized onions, and finished with a Parmigiano/Marscapone cream cheese spread.
I built my own burger when Jared came back to take our orders. I got the 6 oz. patty on a potato bun, and had it topped with Swiss cheese, Heritage Berkshire bacon, and sauteed mushrooms. Jared asked how I wanted it cooked and I asked for medium. My guests went simple - they both ordered the Drive-Thru burger - two 3 oz. burger patties on a sesame seed bun with American cheese. One guy ordered it with the cheese, the other without. We each ordered fries with our meal.
The burgers took about 20 minutes from the time we ordered to the time they showed up at the table. Jared was a little slow with the drink refills during that time, as well. We had to flag Jared down to get more pop and another beer. And it took a long time for him to return with our drinks.
Someone other than Jared brought out our burgers to us. The fries were in a large metal cup with wax paper. They were thin and crisp. A side of housemade ketchup came with them. The burger featured a tall potato bun crown that sat on top of the burger and toppings. Lettuce, a fresh tomato slice and red raw onion rings came on the burger, as well.
I haven't had a burger with a potato bun for quite sometime, but the one at B&B Burger and Beer was very good. It had a somewhat hard outer shell, but a nice chewy core. It held together well with all that was on the burger giving the burger a very good complementary taste.
The burger, itself, was flavorful and juicy on its own. It was cooked to what I call a perfect medium with a hint of pink in the middle. I liked it a little better than the burgers I've had at I ♥ Burgers, but the trade-off is that I like the toppings offered at I ♥ Burgers a little more.
My guests both liked their burgers. "Better than anything I've tasted back home," one of the guys told me.
The fries were all right - nothing special. They had a nice crisp taste and many had broke in half during the cooking process. They went well with the burgers.
That evening, we were packing up our suites on the 29th floor of the Venetian after the end of the Consumer Electronics Show. We were sort of at a standstill around 7:30 p.m waiting for our shipping crates to show up, so my boss decided that we'd go get something to eat. There were 12 of us and we first tried to get into the Public House bar and restaurant at the Venetian. When we found that they couldn't accommodate us, someone suggested that we go back to I ♥ Burgers. Knowing that the beer selection at I ♥ Burgers was disappointing, I suggested B&B Burger and Beer. Shrugs of shoulders to enthusiastic affirmations greeted my suggestion. We walked over to B&B Burger and Beer and they were able to put some tables together back in the same area that I had eaten at earlier in the day to accommodate our group.
Our server that evening, Shiloh, was much better than Jared. She was attentive, witty, and on the ball. Two of the people in our group don't drink beer, but it turns out that B&B Burger and Beer has a small wine list that they pair with some of their signature burgers.
On this visit, I built my own burger once again. This time I got a burger - medium - on a pretzel bun and topped with pepperjack cheese, a hard fried egg and garlic aioli. I got fries again after contemplating getting either onion rings or their housemade salt and pepper potato chips. I didn't figure I'd eat many of the fries as the burger would be more than enough for me - especially after having one at lunch. I also got a Ballast Point Calico Amber ale to go with the dinner.
The second burger I had at B&B Burger and Beer was just as good as the first one. I liked the pretzel bun more than the potato bun, but both were pretty damned good. The pepperjack had a nice spicy bite to it, the egg was a great complementary taste, but I couldn't really get much of a garlic taste with the garlic aioli. Overall, everyone seemed to be happy with the burgers at B&B Burger and Beer. At least no one complained and many were happy with the beer selection - limited, but a better selection of craft beers than I ♥ Burgers.
On my most recent Top Ten Burger List, another B&B Burger - the one from B&B Grocery in Des Moines - has consistently been in my Top Ten for the past couple three years. (Click here to see my entry on B&B Grocery.) The B&B Burger in Las Vegas was very good - one of the better "celebrity-gourmet" burgers I've had. While I've found some "celebrity-gourmet" burgers to be vastly overrated, the burger at B&B Burger and Beer was pretty damned good. The service we had in the afternoon for three people was below par, but the service by Shiloh in the evening taking care of 12 tired, thirsty, hungry and wise-assed guys was stellar. Being that it is new, I'm hoping the signature burgers, as well as the craft beer selection, is a work in progress. We may have found a new Sunday night burger destination when we get back to Las Vegas for the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show - B&B Burger and Beer. (Photo courtesy Vegas Chatter.com)