Restaurant Review: Belly Burger
Expectations were not high for Belly Burger. It seems like a quick-flip, a random burger shop set up pell-mell inside the shell of Oliver’s. A month after opening and half the shelving in the bar was still barren.
Then again, to be fair, Oliver’s old shelving behind the bar runs all the way up the walls. There’s no real compelling reason to store a bunch of bottles out of reach of bartender. That doesn’t make sense at all. Keeping the booze on lower shelves is surely a practical choice, if ever there was one. Perspective is helpful here.
Beyond the shelves, the walls of Belly Burger are spray-painted with a groovy 70s burger theme, with a retro soundtrack to match (think CCR or Rolling Stones). And when it comes to food, Belly Burger is set up with a super-streamlined menu that’s paired with order-at-the-counter service.
As it turns out, the burgers are not bad. At times, exemplary, even, and really good deals for Downtown. It’s always nice when expectations are exceeded.
The Single ($5) is a warm-up. It provides a modest, coarse-ground burger, a criss-cross of length-wise pickle slices, lettuce and tomato all seated in a soft split bun that is griddled curiously golden all the way through. There’s a dab of special sauce to pull it together – it’s reminiscent of McD’s take on Thousand Island. You can add other stuff, like ketchup, mustard, onions and bacon. The burger’s not big, but for what it is, it’s decent value at only five dollars.
But if you go all in with the Triple with Cheese ($9.50), that’s where the magic starts. Good night, that is a satisfying burger. As the name suggests, you get three of those meaty patties, with crisped edges. They’re held together with American cheese, plus that same criss-cross of crisp pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and special sauce. Burgers and gluttony go together like bread n’ butter, so this mammoth monster scratches an itch that the mere single will never reach.
Then lightening strikes twice. The Cluck ($5.75) was good too. It’s real chicken. This fact was not immediately evident when the sandwich arrived because the crunchy-fried piece was somehow oddly circular to match the bun. But there is a distinct difference between chicken and parts, and this was really and truly intact poultry, battered with extra crispy crackling coating, seated on the golden bun with pickles.
That’s pretty much it for the edibles: Burgers and Chicken Sandwiches. You can round it out with the house Salt & Pepper Fries ($2.25). While the pepper element wasn’t terribly evident, they are certainly seasoned fries, and solid companions to the sandwiches.
In the beverage department, you can score all the typical drinkables you’d find at any bar, PLUS milkshakes and Cheerwine Slushees. The latter is built on a Southern classic, a soda called Cheerwine ($4). According to the internet, the red beverage is named for its cherry flavor, and the cheeriness it imparts. A slushie format just accentuates those features (add booze, and the cheeriness expands exponentially). You can doctor up the milkshakes with alcohol, too.
The street address for Belly Burger is 26 N. High St. but the entrance itself is in Lynn Alley.
For more information, visit belly-burger.com.
All photos by Susan Post