This week’s restaurant: Burger Bar, 425 W. Foothill Blvd. (at Indian Hill), Claremont.
Burger Bar opened recently in the same Old School House building that houses Trader Joe’s and Robeks Juice and the reviews have been mixed. Yelpers give it two stars and the Claremont Insider was even less kind (so what else is new?). The Claremont Courier was more upbeat, as was my colleague Elaine Lehman.
I gave Burger Bar a shot myself recently despite misgivings. Well, I was going to Trader Joe’s anyway.
A single-location place (which explains the slightly cheesy sign), Burger Bar is clean and cheerfully yellow. Your initial reaction may depend on your tolerance for the concept: You pick up an order form and choose the size of your burger, the bun, the spread, the cheese and two condiments, among them grilled peppers, sauteed forest mushroom blend and tossed house spring mix. This may be more “have it your way” than you really want.
A champion waffler who was suddenly confronted with multiple decisions, I eventually got the quarter-pound patty on wheat with pesto mayo, bleu cheese, sauteed onions and the mushroom blend, with sweet potato fries rather than french and a soda ($7.90 as a combo). The tray was delivered to my table.
The toppings proved a good choice, and I can’t say the sandwich was bad. But midway through, sensing the weak link in it all, I lifted the bun to take a squint at the burger. It was a wan, puck-like thing.
It seems as though management focused on the gourmet-ish toppings and forgot the basics. Imagine a grand mansion constructed on a foundation of straw.
The sweet potato fries were a delicious novelty, by the way. But when I’m at home in Claremont, I’m afraid I’m going to continue heading west to La Verne’s The Habit when I want a decent burger. Unless I’m going to Trader Joe’s.