I had heard that Hubert Keller's Burger Bar in St. Louis had closed up (click here to see the entry on the Burger Bar at Lumiere Place) and I was looking up information on the closing. I came across another Burger Bar that I'd never heard of before, this one was in Springfield, IL. I wondered if it was under the same ownership, but it was not. I wanted to check out Springfield's Burger Bar at some point and on a recent trip through the city I decided to hit the place to see what it was all about.
About the time the St. Louis Burger Bar had decided to close their doors in 2012, the Springfield Burger Bar opened up. Local realtor Doug Kent and his wife Karen are the owners of the Burger Bar - which is also known as the Back Door Lounge - and it's located on the south side of Springfield in a strip mall next to a Country Market grocery store on S. 6th St. (see map)
It was during the noon rush when I made it into the Burger Bar and the dining room was pretty full. I ended up sitting at the bar which allowed me to be able to spread out a bit. The dining room had a number of wooden chairs and tables with some cartoonish figures painted on the wall. It wasn't a large place, but people didn't seem to be on top of one another.
The bar area featured a full service bar and a number of flat panel televisions hung on the wall. There was a video gaming - as in gambling - area off to the side with no one in the room. As I walked into the front door of the Burger Bar there was a sign that said over $542,000 had been paid out in winnings since video gaming in bars has been legal in Illinois since late in 2012. I immediately wondered how much money was spent for over $542,000 in pay outs.
My server/bartender that day was Alycia, a very friendly young woman who handed me a menu and asked what I'd like to drink. Their beer list was pretty basic - mostly the main American brands - so I just went with a Bud Light. She gave me a moment to take a look through the menu to see what they had to offer.
In addition to burgers, they feature a number of regular bar-type appetizers - chicken wings and fingers, beer-battered mushrooms and mozzarella sticks. They also had fried green tomatoes on the menu as well as fried pickles and something called Big Boy Potachos - basically waffle fries with chili, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and sour cream.
Burger Bar also featured about a dozen specialty burgers including the Brunch Burger with an 8 ounce burger patty topped with a fried egg, bacon and American cheese and served on an English muffin. The Cowboy Burger was also an 8 ounce burger topped with barbecued pulled pork, cheddar cheese and onion rings. The Mac 'n Cheese burger was topped with - of course - mac and cheese. And the Nuclear Burger was topped with spicy chili mayo, pepper jack cheese and hot giardiniera.
I decided to build my own burger. I had a choice of either a single, double or triple 5 ounce burger patty (veggie patties and turkey burgers are also available) and then there were over a dozen of free toppings (onion, tomato, black or green olives, jalapeños, etc.) to choose from. Six different types of cheese slices were also available for about 50 cents each. From there you could get a bun upgrade from the regular bun to a pretzel bun, a salt and pepper bun, or what they called a jumbo gourmet bun. Premium toppings for about a buck each included bacon, onion rings, a fried egg and grilled peppers and onions. There were a lot of interesting combinations that one could have with a burger at the Burger Bar.
Of course, I went with my old stand-by of a double cheeseburger with Swiss cheese, bacon and grilled mushrooms. For an additional $1.49 I got some fries with the burger. I don't know why - 10 ounces of beef on a burger was a lot of food for lunch.
Because of the lunch rush it took awhile for my burger to get to me. I was catching up on the latest sports happenings on TV as well as talking with many of the servers who were coming to the drink station that was near where I was seated. Everyone was friendly, asking how I was doing, if I needed anything while I was waiting. I felt very welcomed and comfortable at Burger Bar.
Alycia brought out my burger and placed it in front of me, served in a basket with wax paper. I kind of laughed because it came with a plastic fork embedded into the fries. This was a big-assed burger on a lightly toasted bun and topped with mushrooms, then the bacon and the cheese on top. I would have liked the cheese on the burger patty, then the bacon and mushrooms on top.
Now, I figured that the two 5 ounce burger patties would cook down but this was a thick burger. It turned out that they had put the Swiss cheese on the lower patty, but not the top one. I thought it was strange, but it wasn't a deal breaker.
And the burger was...good. It was actually better than average, but not the best I've ever had. The burger was juicy and cooked to a slight pink middle. The bun was light and held together very well with all the toppings. The mushrooms had a great grilled and earthy taste to them. The bacon was crisp and the Swiss cheese was pronounced in its taste. Yes, this was a good to very good burger.
But there was a lot of it. I had trouble finishing the burger and I only had a couple fries to go along with it. But what I had of the fries I thought they were very good. They had a nice crisp outer shell and a good light potato taste in the middle. They would have been a good complement to the burger had I gotten a single instead of a double.
I was thoroughly stuffed when I left Burger Bar and got into my car to head down the road. But the stop was worth it. I thought the overall taste and consistency of the burger was a B+ if I were grading it. I'm glad I didn't get a gourmet or a pretzel bun because the regular bun that comes with the burger was a good bun. Alycia was a very good bartender/server and very friendly in a pleasant kind of way - as were many of the staff members at Burger Bar. But it was a lot of food. I didn't even eat dinner that evening because I just wasn't hungry from lunch. You can certainly get a lot of food for your money at the Burger Bar in Springfield.