The Las Vegas celebrity chef burger joint is the least mystifying restaurant of all time. You know how this is gonna go down—you’ll devour a very good or possibly great burger, maybe with crazy creative toppings or maybe just excellent basics, and it’s going to cost around $15. Without fries. Also, perhaps a fantastic $9 milkshake.
It seems spendy, but the simple fact is that this simple meal is light years ahead of its cheap fast-food counterpart, the slightly less cheap version so many of us eat at friendly neighborhood chain restaurants and pretty much every other burger you’ll find. Sometimes on the Strip, you do get what you pay for. And yet when super-famous restaurant folk like Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich join the big burger battle, it seems reasonable to expect perfection, right? You can almost get three Double-Doubles from In-N-Out for the price of the Drive-Thru ($9), a similarly nostalgic burger at the guys’ new B&B Burger & Beer. Should it be three times better? (It’s pretty good.)
Batali burgers are right up there with the best the Strip has to offer. The Really Good ($16) places a perfect patty on a soft potato bun—which appears to be the best possible burger bun, no sign of the sweetness in a sesame or brioche and less chew than ciabatta—with smoky bacon, powerful gorgonzola cheese, red onion slivers and a tangy, titanic chianti mustard. The Bottom Burner ($14) brings the heat with pepper jack cheese, hot sauce and jalapeño pesto, and the aptly named Royale With Cheese ($15) is creamy, melty bliss, with robiola cheese melted into a parmigiano-mascarpone cream sauce.
The beer list is solid but short of spectacular, although Belgian brews like Hoegaarden or Delirium Tremens or the local Big Dog’s Line Cook Ale pair nicely with a juicy burger. There are fun snacks like fried oysters and chicken wings, terrific salads, standard sides (skip the soggy fries for onion rings or crispy chips) and boozy shakes, but Burger & Beer’s other sandwiches, something of a greatest American hits list, are just as intriguing, drool-inducing and well-assembled as its burgers. Pastrami done Reuben-style is respectable ($14). Ditto for the meatball hoagie, the fried eggplant parmigiana with marinara sauce, and the Kosher chili-cheese dog. In fact, this place might also be one of the best sandwich shops on the Strip. Try the crispy cod ($16) with jalapeño tartar sauce and you won’t disagree.
If you can be blown away by burgers, you’ll dig it here, even though it’s one of the most under-designed casino restaurants we’ve seen. It’s cozy enough, with TVs for sports and a patio setup overlooking the Venetian’s outdoor canals, but the vibe is one that could be reproduced anywhere. Maybe that’s the plan.
Only a few bites will make it clear that while more and more well-known fine dining chefs and restaurateurs are rolling out their casual spots, Burger & Beer appears destined for the win category.
B&B Burger & Beer Venetian, 414-2220. Daily, 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.