Guilt-Free Comfort Food?

bareburger_jul13

By Gunjan J. Sewhani

Evidence of the health food revolution in New York City is apparent on every block. Organic, vegan, and raw food restaurants are popping up around Manhattan to cater to svelte females clad in Lululemon and male fitness warriors alike. The restaurants boast an alternative lifestyle dedicated to cruelty-free, pesticide-free, antibiotic-free diets; the list of toxins eliminated is endless.  Raw food devotees consume their vegetable and lentil concoctions (not consumed a degree above 118 Fahrenheit) in zen-like atmospheres throughout Manhattan.

Bareburger evades the health-freak, wellness junkie stereotypes while managing to fulfill the demanding expectations of New York City’s nutritional dogmatists along with those who crave traditional comfort food.  Bareburger boasts all-natural and organic burgers, shakes, and snacks at thirteen restaurants in New York City. It successfully manages the challenges of an organic eatery: organic foods are more expensive to grow and not as readily available as non-organic foods. Hence, it is significantly more difficult to maintain consistent quality as the ingredients are often shorter in supply.

But back to Bareburger. Diners can select from an extensive and, almost, overwhelming menu. The establishment suggests creative burger concoctions but also allows you to create your own (the “barest burger” option). You get to choose your patty, condiments, and a bun tailored to your particular craving. Those wishing to trim the excess carbs can even opt for a lettuce wrap. I went with the mushroom burger, while other members of my party were slightly more adventurous: a bison burger with a fried egg and an ostrich burger were met with equal enthusiasm. To top it all off, the menu conveniently indicates which items are gluten-free, vegan, or containing nuts.

We started with an array of Bareburger’s fried specialties: onion rings, zucchini sticks, French fries, and fried pickles alongside a couple of craft beers and creamy milkshakes. The onion rings had a great, flavorful crunch with just the right amount of onion. The breading was soft with an aroma of herbs. The French fries came with a bevy of sauces, reminding me of the delicious East Village boite that countless people rave about: Pommes Frites.

The atmosphere was quirky, but laid-back. The eatery consciously employs eco-friendly, sustainable materials in its construction and décor: utilizing wood from storm-salvaged trees and recycled tin on the ceilings. A chandelier crafted out of forks subtly overhung a patron’s booth and the mason jars that the coleslaw and pickles appeared in were nothing short of charming. Bareburger manages to subtly juxtapose atmospheric creativity with casual comfort—a rarity in Manhattan’s culinary landscape. •

Visit bareburger.com for locations and hours.

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