Imperfect Paradise by Dan Dembiczak - I'm so proud of Dan Dembiczak, whose first novel - Imperfect Paradise - is available for sale in both eBookor Paperback on Amazon.com! The story follows ...
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Seward Park only supports a handful of restaurants on it's little main drag, and earlier this year we lost the Italian-Spanish restaurant, Saffron. But in its place we've just gained something that hopefully will fit well in the neighborhood: Bent Burgers.
It opened up last weekend, and initial reviews popping up on Yelp and other sites were mixed. But today, Dan & I braved the blustery day to walk up and grab some lunch.
The outside is rather subdued, but inside the decor explodes with a superhero overload. Every surface is filled with comic book memorabilia, and the table tops feature comic book covers embedded under glossy epoxy. Even the menu is vibrant and has a certain comic book flair - which unfortunately makes it a little hard to read. The staff are standing in front of it while they take your order, and the multi colored blackboard takes a minute to get familiar with. It wasn't until I sat down and was digging into my lunch that I figured out that up in the corner it says what comes standard on the burgers (lettuce, pickle, onion, pickle, ketchup, mustard and mayo). I noticed the family behind us grabbed one of the to-go menus in order to understand what was available.
Dan ordered a bacon cheeseburger with pepper jack, plus onion rings and a chocolate shake, while I opted for the regular cheeseburger with cheddar and a vanilla shake. Then we grabbed a booth and sat down.
One of the challenges any tenant in that space faces is the odd angles of the outer wall. Bent has put traditional diner booths (in nontraditional bright orange) along the wall, with the aforementioned square comic book tables between them. With the two halves of the booth at angles, I found I had to pinch in a bit to get in, and that the table was still uncomfortably close to me (and I'm 5'8", 170# - not a big guy by any stretch of the imagination). I solved the problem by pushing the table against the wall, where the booths were the furthest apart - which worked great for Dan & I.
Our shakes came out first (mine, then Dan's a little later), so we got to have dessert first! One of the early reviews I read said the shakes were a little runny, but I wrote it off because the reviewer had taken their order to go (and because it was opening day - bound to be some hiccups). I did find that my shake was a little on the thinner side, and it wouldn't have stood up to travel, or the wait for the rest of our meal. I think if they adjust the ratio a bit toward the ice cream, they'll be perfectly thick and just as delicious.
There was a little mix up with our burgers - with my cheddar on Dan's bacon burger and vice versa, so they checked if I minded bacon and just added some bacon to Dan's burger. Not ideal, but they actually realized the error as they were putting them down, and were pretty quick about the fix. Plus, I got bacon on my burger for free, so who's complaining? The burgers were big (akin to a Red Robin burger, rather than an anemic fast-food patty), juicy and mine was cooked perfectly. And the onion rings were big, crispy and golden brown - exactly how I like 'em.
Prices at Bent are more than you'll spend at McDonald's ($4.98 for the standard hamburger, $2 more for the bacon cheeseburger), but you're getting a lot more in terms of quality AND quantity. Dan couldn't even finish his burger! They've got veggie, turkey and chicken options, and topping options like hot links, avocado, jalapenos and fried egg. Plus yam fries and hot wings. Despite the opening week bumps (which they acknowledge they're working through), we really liked our lunches and we'll definitely be back to Bent - maybe taking some of our comic book obsessed nephews (and friends) when they visit.
On the walk home, we realized the comic book theme doesn't extend the names of the menu items - yet - and I thought it would be a fun way to engage the community for them to have a build-and-name-a-burger contest, where kids (and kids-at-heart) could use the existing options to suggest new super hero themed burgers. My entry would be the Green Lantern: Jalapenos, Avocado and Pepper Jack Cheeseburger. Every month they could feature a new one. I saw a video over on Thrillist of Bent building a crazy burger with egg, hot links, bacon, double meat and double cheese that could easily stand up to being named the Incredible Hulk.