Burgers, by the ‘Bach’

I’ve never cared for burgers, and I’ve certainly never sought out a restaurant specialized in the sandwich. That’s until I ventured into Burger Bach (pronounced batch) in Carytown. The New Zealand-inspired gastropub made a believer out of a burger-skeptic like me with its gourmet burgers, handcut fries and homemade dipping sauces.

It’s not surprising that others loved it, too, and its second location opened in West Broad Village in November. Eager to compare the two, I headed over for lunch on a Saturday with a friend and an empty stomach.

We sat in the booming restaurant beside families, couples and shoppers ready to try something new on the menu. The decor mirrors the Carytown store with its “batch” feel, the New Zealand colloquialism for a bachelor pad or vacation home. The rustic space surrounded us with wooden furniture, metal decor, and the “cattle wall,” a giant mosaic bull made from 25,000 beach pebbles.

In the midst of its clean and modern decor comes the menu – a feast of irregular burger options.

The restaurant’s humanely raised and grass-fed beef and lamb come from Silver Fern Farms in New Zealand. The chicken, free range and hormone-free, comes from Bell and Evans in Pennsylvania, and the fish and shrimp are caught in the wild.

Its fries are hand cut, its meat is ground in-house, and Burger Bach makes its own dressings and sauces. Its buns come from Ellwood Thompson’s Local Organic Food Market.

Before our burgers came out, we devoured a large bowl of fries ($5) with our choice of two sauces. The medium cut fries appealed more to me than my friend, who loves skinny, crispier fries, but we cleared the bowl and almost ordered another – even a large is somewhat small to share.

Although we stuck with organic ketchup and original sauce this time, I’ve tried and loved the curry sauce, Manuka honey mustard sauce, and jalapeno remoulade.

This go-round, I thought I’d try something from the “other signature burgers” section, while my friend opted for the East Coast ($11), a beef burger with blueberry chipotle barbecue sauce, uncured bacon, caramelized onions, and garlic aioli sauce.His favorite part was the soft, moist bun.

I ordered the Asian Thai Burger ($11), a free range chicken sandwich with uncured bacon, plum barbecue sauce, grilled pineapple, fresh cilantro-apple coleslaw, peanut sauce and sesame aioli.

The amount of ingredients on my sandwich made for an intricate, rich flavor, but also made the flavors indistinguishable and messy. My friend ate every morsel on his plate in what seemed like seconds while I struggled to manage my drippy sandwich.

If you’re not in the mood for beef or chicken, you can try a lamb burger, crab cake or vegetarian burger.

Keep in mind that fries are not standard with each sandwich: you have to order them separately. Burgers do come with a mixed lettuce salad. For a burger, fries, and a drink, a meal will cost about $20. Although this may seem steep for a lunch break, the cost is good for the quality of the food.

“We have an extremely high level of respect for our ingredients,” said Zane Wilcox, assistant directing partner. “There’s nothing better for us than people coming in and enjoying themselves. We do it all. We even make our own Bloody Mary Mix.”

The bar, which features 24 beers on tap, spans the length of the restaurant and serves 13 Virginia brews. I’ve eaten my whole meal at the bar at the location in Carytown when the restaurant is packed and assume that’s the norm in Short Pump, too.

Guests have the option of bar seating, booths, or long, high-top tables to share with other parties. This concept of table-sharing isn’t for everyone, but I don’t mind cozying up to other groups if it means I get seated faster.

What made the restaurant truly excellent was the staff’s friendliness and helpfulness. Just like the Carytown location, the staff seems genuinely happy to work there and eager to please.

We finished off our meal with a hot green tea, one of the many options of organic, fair-trade teas from Carytown teas.

Burger Bach’s unique menu makes it a perfect spot for family outings, date nights, or a gathering with friends.
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October 2017
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