CINCINNATI – Good burgers. Thick shakes. And ginormous onion rings.
That's what you will find at BurgerFi, a new gourmet burger restaurant that opened Monday at the Banks at 161 E. Freedom Way.
I visited the eatery with my editor, Tasha Stewart, to sample the goods and check out the space. Here are our first impressions.
The service: BurgerFi’s interior is laid out with speed in mind. When we entered the eatery, we immediately found ourselves in line for the counter. After we placed our order, the friendly cashier gave us a pager and told us to seat ourselves.
About 10 minutes later, the pager buzzed, alerting us that our food was ready for pickup at an area near the cash registers. Tasha and I thought the turnaround time was fairly quick, considering it was BurgerFi’s first day of business and there was a decent number of customers. BurgerFi also offers pre-ordering services online and via a smartphone app.
As we ate, employees offered us free samples of BurgerFi's red velvet custard. They also promptly cleared our table as we finished eating.
The food: BurgerFi’s food menu offers a lot of variety while still being focused on burgers. The menu is broken down into three basic categories: burgers, Vienna beef hot dogs and sides, including french fries and onion rings. Outside of a vegetarian option, BurgerFi makes all of its burgers with hormone-free Angus beef and other fresh ingredients. The beef patties are pressed thin, seasoned and served crispy on the outside with a light-pink center. All burgers can be served in a lettuce wrap instead of a bun.
I went basic and ordered a single-patty bacon burger topped with American cheese and two slices of bacon. After my first bite, I immediately wished I had ordered the double. Tasha tried the Breakfast All Day burger, which included American cheese, bacon, maple syrup, fried egg, hash brown, grilled onions and ketchup.
Tasha really liked her burger; the only complaint she had involved the bun: “My burger was good, but the bread it came on was way too soft to contain all of those toppings! As soon as I tried to cut the burger in half, the soft egg broke into a runny mess, making the bread super soggy and the burger started to fall apart. I ended up removing the bottom bun for ease of consumption -- and to get around the messiness -- and went to town. The hash brown was a little soft, but that might’ve been due to the runniness of the egg.”
We split an order of Cry+Fry, a mound of french fries topped with three giant double-battered onion rings. Tasha and I agreed: The crispy, hand-cut fries (which had some skin left on!) were good, but the onion rings stole the show. They had just the right amount of light, crispy breading on them, and the onions inside were soft, slightly greasy and delicious.
As Tasha said, “They are BIG -- we had one that was the size of a toddler’s head. I could have eaten a full order of those bad boys and not felt too disgusted at myself.”
The drinks: Since it was a work day, Tasha and I skipped the beer and wine BurgerFi offers. I noted that the beer list included local favorites from Braxton, Rhinegeist, MadTree and Fifty West on tap, along with a number of cans and bottles.
I couldn’t keep myself from ordering a vanilla custard float made with Boylan root beer. Tasha opted for the Oreo shake, which she described as “super thick -- I mean, hard-to-suck-up-with-a-straw levels of thick." After she waited a few minutes for the shake to melt a bit, it was just right, though. It was topped with good-sized chunks of Oreo cookies, too.
BurgerFi also offers a near-infinite amount of soda combinations with its two Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.
The atmosphere: BurgerFi is light and airy with wood walls, industrial lighting and metal accents throughout. The place offered plenty of seating, both inside and outside, as well. Multiple televisions lined the walls of the eatery, and I could envision myself sitting at BurgerFi’s bar, which faces East Freedom Way with a retractable garage-door window.
The total: $30.87.
Our take: BurgerFi is a solid addition to the Banks. With its quick service and solid menu, we could easily see ourselves going there before or after a Reds or Bengals game or just for a quick lunch. The only requirement is to come with a good appetite (and on a cheat day if you're dieting).
Where: 161 E. Freedom Way, Downtown.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday; 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Friday and Saturday