GM Burger Bar
(516) 208-6100, Rockville Centre
WHo would’ve thought they’d ever see the words George Martin (GM) and burger bar in the same sentence? The GM are a classy upscale group owned by astute restaurateur George Korten. (The group comprises George Martin, the two George Martin’s Grillfires and George Martin’s Strip Steak.)
As a throwback to times when nobody worried about cholesterol, calories or healthy eating comes the GM Burger Bar in Rockville Centre. It’s a no-holds-barred, American comfort food upscale pub featuring the likes of skyscraper burgers, shakes, floats, fries, sloppy joes, ribs, hot dogs, onion rings and a host of other golden oldies. Yes, these dishes can be found elsewhere but rarely all of them in a single, stylish eatery.
Those jumbo burgers are at the heart of the menu. I counted fifteen of them, not including the commendable Trio of Minis appetizer. There are also five taco and quesadillas choices, five wedge salads, a half-dozen sandwiches and another half- dozen or so “comfort plates” or entrées including meatloaf and short ribs.
Be prepared for a lot of noise at this rollicking roadhouse, the walls are done in subway tile and stone and the ceiling is of rippling metal without a hint of absorbent fabric to be found anywhere. Families and young men wearing their baseball caps backwards sit at bare tables, the bar, in booths and outdoors. They watch the many giant televisions and order craft beers from the restaurant’s voluminous blackboard listing.
Diners familiar with the George Martin name might well expect a level of quality that’s not usual at a burger bar. They will find it here, at least some of the time. The meat in all those burgers is a blend of short rib, sirloin and brisket from certified Angus cows. The superior wedge salads (even the small ones) are served in soup bowl-size dishes. The homemade desserts, often with generous puffs of real whipped cream, are as outstanding as they are at the more upscale George Martin restaurants.
Unfortunately although all the multi-ingredient burgers are generous Fred Flintstone-size monsters, they aren’t always cooked as ordered. The three eight- ounce ones we sampled were requested medium rare but arrived much closer to well done. Nevertheless their often innovative ingredients made them interesting. The Moody Bleu boasts a port wine glazed patty with melted bleu cheese and pretzel-crusted onion rings on a brioche roll ($13.50). The Frenchy, of onion-beef jus, sherry caramelized onions, gruyère and mozzarella is on slightly too large a sourdough ($12.95). And the straightforward Beef ’n Bacon Smash was fine, yet without any discernable bacon flavor ($13.95). They all came with rather tasteless cottage fries (opt for shoestring fries instead). A recommended non-burger entrée is the tender root beer-glazed short ribs ($19.95), but pass on the lost-in-their-batter onion rings ($5.95).
Starting the meal with the fresh and distinct bevy of pecans, apples, cran-raisins and goat cheese in the Spago wedge salad ($8.95 & $12.95) and ending it with any of the four desserts—decadent lava cake, rich GM brownie (both $7); tangy key lime pie or velvety New York cheesecake (both $6)—is a good way to go.
Photo by Paul Kim / thefphoto.com