Friday, December 2, 2011

The Big Board

The Big Board in the H St NE area has only been open just under two months, but is already quite popular and making a name for itself with its unique idea to "stock market" for beer  - but don't be fooled by this pricey gimmick.  Instead, head over for their impressive burgers featuring a secret marinade.   Other specialty burgers are available as well as salads and indulgent sides such as garlic, parmesan-crusted sweet potato fries and crispy "tobacco" onions.  Closest Metro is Union Station.

"After years of talking about it, the brothers Mark, Eric, Doyle and long time friend Dave finally realized their dream of opening their own restaurant that is both a neighborhood bar and restaurant. Drawing on Mark's experience as sous-chef in Montpellier, France, the guys came up with a menu that they think is a unique take on gourmet burgers. However, they knew there needed to be something that would set the actual burger itself apart and one night Eric thought about his favorite meal growing up: marinated flank steak. The boys’ father Admiral Flannery, who spent his days as director of the National Military command center, while before and after he brown-bag school lunches and cooked dinner for his boys, became a pretty good cook over the years and came up with a marinade of his own. You'll still find a variation on the them in select burgers like the Ciao Bella and the Straight 'Outta Dublin, but Admiral Flannery's influence is still in each burger that comes out of the kitchen and the welcome that we hope all receive."

Our group of four arrived before 8pm and the place was already packed with a 45-minute wait for a table.  The space is not that big, so tables were limited with the focus being on the large bar area.  Luckily, we were able to snag seats at the bar and decided to just order our food there.  The decor is very minimal and frankly, boring.  I was expecting to see a BIG board with the market prices of the beers hanging above the bar, however, there were several 40" TV screens hung around in typical sports-bar style with only one TV on the far right wall dedicated to showing real-time quotes of only about 8 beers.

The menu is limited to mainly burgers and sides with one or two salads.  Portions were large with everyone describing their burger as "meaty" and the sides are big enough to share (we each ordered our own though and it was overload).  There are three non-meat versions featuring fish, mushrooms, or black beans.  I ordered the mushroom.  The quality of the burgers were high, extremely flavorful, and well-cooked.  Keith was totally surprised by how much he enjoyed his burger - comparing it to come just under his favorite burger in the city from Ray's Hell Burger.  I was expecting the typical mushroom cap to be the "patty" of mine, rather received a pleasant mix of seasoned gourmet mushrooms shaped into a patty, almost like a tartar presentation.  The sweet potato fries were delicious, yet kicking with so much garlic that vampires need beware. Coupled with the garlic labneh paste on my burger - I was a joy to be around the rest of the night!

I knocked a few points off for service because it took a while for our friends' meals to come - for some reason they put it on two separate tickets, and somehow the order got mixed in the shuffle causing a delay.  The servers who brought the food from the kitchen also did not seem to know which table the orders went to and often would ask each table "Did you order food?" before finding the right one.  In addition, when it came time to pay the bill - because of the original confusion of the two separate tickets for our table - we were both overcharged.  But the server was quick to fix it when we brought it to his attention and even offered to buy us a round of drinks.  So some slight missteps are still apparent, which is common with new establishments.  I am sure they will work the kinks out soon.  Nevertheless, I would recommend the Big Board to those looking for a casual place to grab a bite to eat while drinking some slightly-inflated price beer to start the evening. But then I highly suggest you move down east on H St towards the other bars for continued drinking.

Total Rating: 3.875
Food: 4.5, Price: 3, Service: 3, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 4

What I ate:

Rose City PDX
mushroom burger with lettuce, tomato, and sprouts
topped with labneh

Sweet Potato Fries
with Parmesan, garlic, and herbs

Plus Keith ate:
Le Burg-aire au Poivre
seared with cracked black pepper, topped with Great Hill blue cheese
and a cognac cream sauce

Crispy "Tobacco" Onions
with spicy aioli

Big Board (Opening Oct 8th) on Urbanspoon

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