By: Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor
Want to spend a lot of money on what can be a very good, to average meal? Boy, have I got the place for you.
Last Wednesday, Bill’s Bar and Burger opened their fifth location here in the Golden Triangle. The other four locations are very popular for their award winning burgers, but they are all in the New York/New Jersey area. The new Pittsburgh location is located on the bottom floor of the Westin Hotel on Liberty Ave. Downtown, across the street from the Convention Center.
Bill’s takes a fresh new look at the American diner. The floors are checkered black and white and the tablecloths bring customers back to the time of 10-cent jukeboxes. However when the hungry patrons sit down they are reminded that Bill’s is an upscale restaurant with quality in mind. The napkins are intricately folded to house silverware and the appetizer plates are sleek and modern.
The wait staff is very polite and quick to refresh drinks. They are knowledgeable about the menu and have plenty of advice for first time visitors. They are able to communicate with a variety of personalities because the hotel provides them with a rotation of out-of-town customers.
The bar and televisions elevate the atmosphere and the dinning area is removed from the bar area, allowing several different settings for a meal (or a beer and appetizer).
The menu is simple yet packed full of options, maybe too many. The beverage list is what you would expect from a full bar, and a bit pricy at that. The appetizers are one of the brightest spots on the menu. Every appetizer is delicious and prepared with fresh ingredients. The spinach and artichoke dip was excellent and the freshly made tortilla chips were a good touch.
The sushi is fresh and prepared well, but it doesn’t reach the levels of some of Pittsburgh’s premier sushi restaurants. Some of the house specials are unique dishes that will dazzle customers, but some are average at best.
The name of the restaurant gives away the obvious choice for the best meal option on the menu. The burgers can be ordered in preset combinations or customized by the customer with the options of toppings, buns, sauces and cheeses. The buns are fresh and each of the types they offer (multi-grain, pretzel, gluten-free, marble rye and classic sesame) pair well with the different toppings they offer.
The sauces are the best part of the burger, the sriracha mayo and Bill’s Special Sauce are both excellent choices and the rest are not far behind. The patty is well-seasoned and ample size. The biggest drawback of the burger is that the patty is only prepared at one temperature, a very safe medium. A restaurant that specializes in burgers needs to let the customer choose what temperature the patty is cooked to.
The milkshakes are a great accompaniment for the diner style, but they do not reach the quality level customers would expect for the price.
Most of the sides are average, but the fries are excellent. They offer both regular and sweet potato fries. The regular fries are some of the best in the city.
Overall Bill’s is very good at doing what the name implies, being a bar and burger. Everything else is not spectacular but will hit the spot in a pinch. If you are in the mood for burgers make sure to stop by Bill’s, just don’t get distracted by the other options on the menu. Oh, and make sure you bring a hefty wallet. The trip cost this newspaper about $55 for an appetizer, sushi and a burger.