Our contributor Jfood, and readers Andrew Dominick and Toni Tiller get to the soul of Chef Bynum's new Beach Burger in East Norwalk. Here's what they had to say:
Jfood on Beach Burger:
If you are like me, you watch the Food Network and wonder how the chefs on Chopped develop each dish and how do they really taste? To sample the results of Chopped Champion Chef Marc Anthony Byrum’s renditions of hamburgers, residents of Norwalk need only drive to a restaurant on First Street to taste some inventive hamburgers being prepared at The Beach Burger. Housed in a non-descript white building across the street from his business partner Anthony Luciani’s Frosty Cone, the pair are delivering very good burgers at incredibly reasonable prices.
The duo have created a few combinations including a “Classic” 6-ounce burger with lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickle, the “Bynum” burger that includes pulled pork, chipotle BBQ sauce and fried onions, and, believe it or not, a “Surf and Turf” burger with fried oysters, arugula and lemon chive aioli. As it was the eatery’s first weekend of operation, I decided to continue my tradition and ordered a bacon-cheeseburger with caramelized onions and an order of fries; plus I added an house-made Sweet Tea to drink.
I waited for my individually prepared burger and enjoyed a few sips of the sweet tea, which was very good and a sign of things to come. When my burger arrived I first tasted the caramelized onions, expecting the sweetness of the long caramelization process, but I was surprised by the level of spice, they had quite a kick, more spicy than sweet, but they were very tasty. When I asked about the onion preparation, I was told that Chef Marc placed some secret spicy seasonings in the onions (I would add “spicy” in front of caramelized on the menu). I placed some ketchup on top of the burger, replaced the bun I cut the burger in half; it was perfectly cooked to medium-rare. The grass-fed all natural beef had a nice flavor, and I was impressed though I prefer a little more depth in the flavor. Likewise the bacon and the bun were good. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with, and I really enjoyed, my first Beach Burger bacon-cheeseburger.
Next, I turned my attention to the hand cut fries that were slightly covered with salt. I was hopeful that they would match the quality of the burger but I was a little disappointed. The interior did not have the softness I was expecting and I thought the fries could have benefited from a little more time in the fryer. They were well salted and good, but the fries were not yet as good as the burger.
For $7.50 my bacon-cheeseburger and fries combination was well worth the price and I am glad that there is another choice of delicious hamburgers in Norwalk.
Andrew Dominick on Beach Burger
On the overcast day of Saturday, April 16, even the clouds could not stop Beach Burger from shining bright. This newly opened burger joint, located on 10 First Street in East Norwalk, CT, is a team effort between well known Chef Marc Anthony Bynum and Anthony Luciani, the owner of Rolling Cones Ice Cream and Mr. Frosty’s.
Many of you may remember Bynum winning in a season four episode of the Food Network television series Chopped. I recall the episode and could hardly wait to attend the grand opening of Beach Burger.
As a walked into Beach Burger, I noticed the simple layout of the restaurant. It was not cluttered and had a few items that remind diner of all things that say “beach.” I looked up at the electronic menu and pondered what I would want to try on my first visit. The straightforward menu is all about using local ingredients and 100% grass-fed beef. “It (the menu) is simple stuff,” Bynum said. “The idea for this restaurant is my play on burgers.”
I decided on something simple, The Bacon Burger combo (that means with fries) and something for dessert that I have feared for quite some time. Deep-fried Oreos.
My order took while to be ready but I understood that Beach Burger just opened and I was one of their first customers. When my name was called, I took my order to the long counter facing the window and started in on my lunch.
I noticed right away that the burger was well seasoned, tender, and cooked a perfect medium well. I appreciated the burger being juicy without losing juices everywhere. I am curious to try some of Bynum’s more inventive burgers like the Taco Burger with guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, and lettuce. Or even The Bynum; a burger with pulled pork, chipotle BBQ sauce, and fried onion which Bynum expressed enthusiasm for. “The Bynum is something you have to try,” he said. “The pulled pork is one of the staples everywhere I go.”
The fries that compliment the burger were some of my favorite in our area. For a good idea about Bynum’s hand cut fries, think along the lines of Super Duper Weenie or Swanky Franks.
Now came the moment of truth. The deep-fried Oreos. I was afraid they would be heavy but I was pleasantly surprised. For those of you that don’t know, the cookie is battered and becomes gooey when fried. The batter was surprisingly light with a slight crunch and I believe I’ve found a new favorite. Bynum believes the fried Oreo will catch on. “Eventually, everyone in Norwalk will want to try fried Oreos,” he said. “We also have deep-fried Twinkies and you must try the shakes.”
Bynum’s menu includes a variety of other burgers, an oyster roll, fish and chips, and chicken options. Some of his inventive milkshakes are flavors like strawberry shortcake, Twinkie, apple pie, and even Peanut Butter & Jelly. Other fried desserts besides the Twinkie and Oreos include fried Nutter Butter and fried Snickers.
Beach Burger is affordable for those of you wondering about price. My meal, the combo, fried Oreos, and a soda only came to $10. No individual item is more than $10 and most burgers range from $4-$9.
Chef Bynum has high hopes for the new place which he hopes will someday catch on as a chain of Beach Burgers. “A lot of traffic comes through here,” Bynum said. “As long as we get it right, I expect us to do well here.”
With Beach Burger’s proximity to Calf Pasture Beach and because of the food, it should flourish in Norwalk.
Toni Tiller on Beach Burger:
My first impressions of Beach Burger showed it to be bright, cheerful, and immaculately clean, with an odd swath of naked space in the center almost begging for a table or two. But I was here to eat a Bynum Burger, not redecorate.
The burger was well proportioned, juicy, and topped with a generous serving of tangy pulled pork with just a hint of heat, and a fluffy pile of crispy fried onions. The pulled pork and beef combination was initially confusing because I had never had that pairing before but by the second bite I was completely sold and the fried onions provided a nice textural contrast to the softness of the pulled pork. My dinner companion had "The Norwalk," and commented that the combination of the sweetness of the caramelized onions, and the pungent blue cheese was nicely balanced and held together by an earthy mushroom base. The hand cut fries were something of a disappointment, they looked good and the flavors were there, but I'm sorry to say they were soft and a bit soggy. This misfortune was easy to overlook because our side order of chili had great flavor with an excellent meat to bean ratio and was so tasty that I took one to go, (a decision I was really pleased with later on my midnight run to the kitchen).
I'm not a sweets fan, but couldn't resist trying the fried Oreo's. I have never had anything like it, they were dense, soft, chewy and not overly sweet. My friend had a fried Snickers, which looked kind of like a cross between a canolli and a spring roll, and was filled with a very sweet liquefied candy bar. He gave it the thumbs up it but it was way too much sugar for me. Throughout our meal Chef Bynum, a man of unmistakable presence, was clearly visible in the kitchen and talking to patrons. It was a treat I appreciated as much as the fried Oreo. We left satisfied, stuffed, and already making plans to return.