If you wanted to show a foreign exchange student the essence of the U.S. via food, you would bring them to Plan B Burger Bar in West Hartford for its beer, burgers, and bourbon trifecta. The Burger Bar, perhaps more aptly called a Burger Temple, is a glowing tribute to the All-American classic, and produces a variety of burgers where the emphasis is on the holistic subtlety of the meat and toppings. Not one flavor stands out in any of their custom burger compositions. Instead, all of the components complement each other to form a harmonious and understated gestalt. The focus of the burgers is the actual patty, which scores high marks all areas and are themselves magnificent testaments to the potential of ground meat. Thus, dining at Plan B is a pilgrimage for the hamburger purist.
The characteristic subtlety is also true of their fries. They use a fine cut for their fries and consistently accomplish a crispy texture, never soggy. The Truffle Fries offer a hint of truffle flavor, although not as powerful as we had hoped. The Parmesan fries are a textural sensation, but without the true Parmesan flavor we craved. The Disco Fries, however, Plan B's take on Canadian poutine, is the overall winner in our book. How Plan B manages to create a delicate dish out of the traditionally messy combo of French fries, gravy, and cheese sauce is bewildering, but we sure are happy they've done it. Plan B also offers tater-tots, sweet potato fries, green bean fries (basically green beans flash fried), onion rings, and side salads. We've sampled a few items from their appetizer menu, including what amounted to blue cheese nachos, and we've never been disappointed (except by the fact that we usually can't finish our burgers!).
If you're a hamburger buff, you really need no other reason to go, but for all those who aren't convinced, there is also a rotating seasonal beer menu (domestic beers only), a few vegetarian options, a few diet-conscious options, large salads, a mac & cheese that is to die for, and an atmosphere that is at the same time humble and sophisticated, making Plan B good for a quick bite or a night out.
Renee’s go-to burger is the New Englander, an all beef burger topped with lobster, smoked gouda, roasted onions and a corn spread. She says that the sweetness of the lobster offers a surprising balance to the beef patty. Scott prefers the Cuban (ground pork, bacon, spicy mustard, cheddar and pickles on a grilled bun) and the Squeeler (a half pork, half beef patty with bacon, cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomato, mustard, and mayo).
3 things we like:
1. The variety of options for burgers, fries, sides, and a rotating beer menu means endless possibilities and endless excuses to go back.
2. The atmosphere of the restaurant is both upscale and laid-back.
3. When Renee is babysitting in West Hartford, she can always lure Scott to come visit by offering to go to Plan B.
3 things we don't like:
1. The name sounds like an emergency contraceptive.
2. Food (including meat patty) tends to be undersalted. Fear not, Plan B chefs! Salting the burger will not destroy the taste of the meat! See this very important article for more information.
3. Scott understands the whole Americana themes but thinks it wouldn't kill them to offer a few import beers. Every once and a while, burgers call for a Guinness.
Will we go back?
Well, we pretty much go all the time. :)
Plan B Burger Bar
138 Park Road
West Hartford, CT
http://www.planbburger.com/flash.html Check out their menu and awards! Yum!