Restaurant Review: Flavor 91 Burger Bistro
Flavor 91 Burger Bistro set up shop a couple years ago in a mostly unassuming spot. Its address on East Main Street puts the eatery neatly in Whitehall, which is a little off-the-beaten-path when it comes to culinary opportunities. Still, the bistro’s festive exterior signage suggests there’s something special inside its doors.
In spite of its hype-free original debut, Flavor 91 has been roundly and warmly received. The house burgers always seem to grab the headlines, but Flavor 91’s kitchen is committed to a full menu that ranges from wings to wraps to a vegan-friendly salad. It touts fare that is Ohio-proud, and Whitehall-proud when it comes to its beer, with 2 Tones Brewing on draft.
For the sake of conformity, let’s start with the famous burgers. They come in different variations, composed of a variety of ingredients – there’s a Black Bean Burger, a Turkey Burger, a Lamb Burger and Burger-Burgers. There’s no pork, though. Flavor 91 is a pork-free institution. That said, a menu without pork is not necessarily a menu without bacon. The house bacon is made from cured beef short rib, and it works out great in the Flavor Burger ($11). An order yields a poofy, tall masterpiece, built on a good-quality beef patty, topped with a savory melded lid of pepper jack, with Flavor sauce, tomato and a little fresh crunch from red onion and lettuce. It’s a good combo, and those who are accustomed to the biggie burgers that dominate the scene right now will probably want to double-up on the meat and add another patty for $5.
The Turkey Burger ($11) is nicely seasoned and formulated in a way that generally obliterates the metallic flavor profile that’s associated with ground turkey. This seems like a win, even if it doesn’t taste terribly much like the big bird. The patty is accessorized with american cheese and avocado paste, along with spinach, tomato and onion. Burgers come with hand-cut fries, the sweet potato version are especially likable for teaming their starchy, potato-y sweetness with salt.
While the burger exploration could continue indefinitely, to do so would mean ignoring heaps of other options. So maybe back up and try out the Sambusa ($10): crispy fried pockets that are stuffed with flavorful lentils. It’s an Ethiopian offering, one of a few you might spy on the menu.
Of course, there’s Chili Cheese Fries ($8), too. The quality of this dish is measured by the meatiness and generosity of the chili, and Flavor 91 scores in both departments. It has the lovable salty-fried characteristics of junk food, teamed with a good meaty chili to make it an almost respectable meal.
On the lighter side of the menu, there are salad options. The Half Vegan ($7) is an unlikely mixture of chickpeas, candied pecans, beets, red cabbage and pureed avocado on top of crisp greens with a vinaigrette. While it might strike a more classic note, minus the avocado element, its presence offers a heft that makes the whole thing a plate-licker.
Service has been warm and prompt. It’s closed Sundays, but you’ll find it on the other days of the week at 5186 E. Main St.
For more information, visit flavor91.com.
All photos by Susan Post