Crown Heights’ latest “artisanal” food spot isn’t along the ultra-hip environs of Franklin Avenue, but all the way over on Kingston Ave., a stretch of the neighborhood that is largely home to Orthodox Jewish residents. I love walking through this slice of the borough to check out all the old-world Kosher bakeries and butcher shops, but was surprised to find a very New Brooklyn-y spot open its doors here recently. Boeuf & Bun is decidedly on-trend: exposed brick, Edison bulbs, open kitchen, mason jars, etc, etc…Just don’t expect any pork belly entrees. Or a cheeseburger for that matter, as this beef-centric spot is also a Kosher kitchen. But pig or no pig, there are plenty of heart-stopping reasons to check out Bouef & Bun–and by heart-stopping, I mean over-the-top, artery-clogging, deliciously ultra-fried, perhaps quite literally heart-stopping.
The first sign that this isn’t a heath food joint is the free popcorn placed on the table ASAP, quickly followed by appetizers that are one part New Brooklyn cooking, three parts Wisconsin State Fair. The giant beer-battered onion rings are a fried food fanatic’s dream–heavy on the batter, light on the ring. They also come with a jalapeno-cilantro aioli, naturally. Golden-brown truffle fries have enough truffle flavor to kill a horse, but the winners are definitely the fried pickles. Rather than those little slices that explode hot pickle juice everywhere when you bite into them, these ones are nicely dry half-sours, full spears with a light breading and a delicious dill dipping sauce.
But the real focus at B&B is on the namesake boeuf, served in a variety of over-the-top burger creations. There’s the Morning Scramble (pictured on the right), with a runny fried egg, very tasty house-made beef “bacon,” sauteed mushrooms, creamy horseradish mayo and crispy strands of potato sticks. It’s an absolute bear to get a decent bite out of, but if you’re not afraid of getting a little egg on your face (or like, a whole yolk on your upper lip), it’s well worth diving into. The New Yorker burger has pastrami, cabbage slaw and pickles layered over an all-beef patty, and the Chilin’ Burger loads beef and bean chili on top, plus onions and hand-cut fries (yes, all on the actual burger).
All of this outrageousness aside, the basics of the burger are solid. It’s an excellent beef patty, thoughtfully served on fresh-baked sesame rolls that are sturdy enough to actually hold up to this onslaught of toppings. If you’re looking to consume less than your recommended daily amount of calories in each bite, the standard classic burger–with just lettuce, ketchup, mustard, pickles, and sauteed sweet maple onions–is quite good too. My only complaint is that the server never asked how we wanted the burgers cooked, and brought the whole table’s well-done. My fault for not asking, but I’d grown used to the de facto meat serving these days being somewhere between bloody and still mooing.
Boeuf & Bun is paleo-friendly too, as any of these burger options can be served over a salad. I have to say there’s something awesome about ordering a salad, then putting a fried egg, French fries, fake bacon and ground beef on top of that salad.
If you had any doubt that Boeuf & Bun is determined to nip your it’s-finally-warm-outside diet in the bud, dessert includes both deconstructed s’mores (in a mason jar, natch) but more importantly, fried Oreos.
For a burger joint, Boeuf & Bun isn’t cheap–$13 to $18 for a monster burger, no fries included..but I mean, these are not your normal burgers. Did I mention the fried Oreos?
271 Kingston Avenue (near Lincoln Place); 718-221-8900; boeufbun.com