Frickle, Bill's Bar and Burger

What is a Frickle?

A frickle is a breaded, fried pickle or pepper served at Bill’s Bar and Burger. It appears as an appetizer on the menu and is sized and served for general table sharing.

The peppers aren’t too spicy, so you shouldn’t have to worry about which you pick up.

Frickle, Bill's Bar and Burger

As for Bill’s Bar and Burger, the server was pleasant but messed up our order. The turkey burger was well cooked and delicious with the siracha slaw. The bar looks like it would be a nice happy hour spot, an upgrade from the location’s predecessor.

I was there for lunch and they were able to easily have us in and out in an hour. With some focus on service, the place shows some promise. Alas, downtown may be the last Pittsburgh neighborhood without a BRGR or Burgatory.

BRGR inside PNC Park behind Section 115

BRGR opens location at PNC Park

BRGR at PNC Park
BRGR at PNC Park behind Home Plate on the Main Concourse

Just like the people going to Consol Energy Center and enjoying Burgatory, burger-rivals BRGR have opened up a stand inside PNC Park in a prime location behind homeplate section 115. Pricing is elevated from regular BRGR prices as you might expect, but now you can get a locally crafted burger or milkshake while cheering on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I think it is great that Burgatory, BRGR, Nakama, Primanti’s and other local restaurants are gaining exposure through Pittsburgh sporting venues. I just hope that guests realize that going to the restaurant is a much different experience.

BRGR on Urbanspoon

Benjamin’s Burger Bar on Northside showing improvements in 2014

Fried Egg, Bacon, Potatoes, Hot Sauce Mayo Burger from Benjamins Burger Bar
Fried Egg, Bacon, Potatoes, Hot Sauce Mayo Burger from Benjamin’s Burger Bar

Following a very inconsistent showing in 2013, Benjamin’s Western Avenue Burger Bar is improving and things could be looking up for them as they enter into a warmer dining season.  Recently I had a lunch meeting at Benjamin’s and was pleasantly surprised with my experience.  I felt very welcomed upon arrival and the server was attentive to my beverage.  Based on this, I’m very optimistic that they have addressed some service issues I’ve had.

Plus. I got a burger that I had either overlooked or was new – the Burger dressed with Fried Egg, Bacon, Potatoes, Hot Sauce Mayo.  I was immediately perplexed at the thought of how to get potatoes ON my burger.  However, I had overthought the situation.  The burger arrived with the potatoes under the burger which held them in place better.  The egg was cooked beautifully though made for a slightly messy burger eating experience once you popped the yolk.  The mess was totally worth it though.  Hands down, this is now my favorite burger at Benjamin’s!  Don’t be scared of the mayo, it’s spicy but nothing for spice-a-phones to worry about.

Looking ahead to summer, I will be keeping Benjamin’s in mind for weekend brunch.  I would expect their outdoor seating that will surely bode well for them attracting pre- and post-game Pirates fans.  Especially considering parking on the nearby streets is free after 6:00 p.m.

Good Luck Benjamin’s!  You haven’t won me over fully, but you’re making good progress. Now, just to await a side dish I can hang my hat on.  I still can’t get on board with bleu cheese crumbles in my potato salad.

Benjamins Western Avenue Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Benjamin’s Western Avenue Burger Bar, the good, the bad and the ugly

Benjamin’s has been subject to the prophecy “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.” Each time we go we have a different experience, which typically discourages us from going back. Alas, because we live so close, it’s always on the top of our minds. This results in repeat visits of ranging happiness.

Overall, I’ve been to Benjamin’s about ten times. The notes below represent experiences, but may also be contradictory.

The Good:

  • I love the decor and ambiance.  The fireplace adds a level of calm, casual and cozy to the room.  There is something about eating to “fire-light” that is almost romantic, but in a platonic sort of way.
  • Happy Hour prices are great.  Every drink is discounted during happy hour and all of the appetizers are as well.  I also enjoy that there is no fryer, so I can avoid the greasy unhealthiness that bar-food typically is.
  • The BLT is served with an egg.  a BELT? a BLET?  Regardless, the B(acon) L(ettuce) and T(omato) sandwich is amazing because the bacon is cooked just right and there is no lack of it either.  Dare I saw there is borderline 1/2 a pound on one sandwich?
  • A meeting room is available if you need to meet with a group for a post-work pow wow.  It’s very nice and private. but is available with pre-reservation only.

The Bad:

  • The service is only good if they are either not busy, or you are with a large crowd.  It’s almost as if you need to make it a point to get yourself noticed by the bartender/waitress (usually the same person).  Most times they could use an extra person working.  I don’t dislike the people working there, they just have too much distance to cover and they have a hard time providing equal levels of quality (or not) service.
  • Twisted sides.  Mind you that their menu is mainly burgers – the sides don’t seem to pair well with the burgers for me.  The coleslaw is curried, the broccoli is asian-fied with soy and wasabi, homefries don’t hit the spot when you want french fries and potato salad has blue cheese.  While I understand the lack of a full kitchen limits the menu, most burger eaters are more traditional with their palates.  Can I get a bag of local potato chips or even just carrots and celery?

The Ugly

  • The place has two rooms – the bar with the fireplace and a lounge with a few tables, a couch, TV and pool tables.  When the bar area fills up, the waitstaff has point blank indicated “we don’t serve in that other room.”  With other walkable options on the block, it’s unfortunate that they’d limit themselves to serving just one room and not strive to reach their full serving capacity/potential.  The rude attitude we got when we asked (and denied) to sit in the couch area and watch the penguins game caused us to flat-out leave.
First batch of pretzels was extremely salty.
The appetizer basket of pretzels was extremely salty.
Benjamins BLT
Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato … and Egg. It is amazing.
Rosemary-Balsamic Goat Cheese & Green Apple
The Rosemary-Balsamic Goat Cheese & Green Apple Burger always has too much goat cheese for me, but the apple is a great burger topping that I now use at home.

Benjamins Western Avenue Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Burgatory now at Consol Energy Center

Penguins fans and concert goers can now eat from Burgatory during their favorite events. A new Burgatory stand replaced the Smokehouse Grill as the Pittsburgh Penguins kickoff their 2011-12 season at Consol Energy Center.

The limited menu at Burgatory at Consol Energy Center
The limited menu at Burgatory at Consol Energy Center

Burgatory Burger & Shake Stand on UrbanspoonBurgatory is located behind Section 206 with two windows of service. In-arena they offer a very limited menu of three helluva burgers and two heavenly shakes. Menu prices may look steep, but burgers are served with homemade russet and sweet potato chips, so $12.50 should fill you for a meal.

Burgatory Smokehouse Burger
Burgatory Smokehouse Burger – Looking out into Fifth Avenue
Burgatory at Consol Energy Center
Burgatory at Consol Energy Center – Helluva Burger + Heavenly Shakes

Congrats to Burgatory for their expansion. Let’s Go Pens!