By Victoria Pesce Elliott
Sure, it wants to come off as a simple burger joint, but Table 8 chef Govind Armstrong’s latest South Beach project is so much more. With a super-appealing menu of casual comfort fare and lots of chic toppings for the hormone-free beef on a bun, 8 oz. Burger Bar is a big step up from any fast food joint.Yet prices are not much more than at a generic spot. In fact, a couple can dine here for the cost of a movie with popcorn and soda.
The Scene: The decor at the corner spot (the former Novecento) is noir speakeasy meets ’50s diner with subway tiling, black block floors, black vinyl booths, silver straight-back chairs and paddle fans hanging from a pressed-tin tile ceiling. A soundtrack /of/ U2 and AC/DC sets a rocker mood. Servers are nice but not in top form.
The Burgers: The standard 8-ouncer is made of the house blend of sirloin, tri-tip, short rib and chuck, which makes for a nice balance of juiciness and flavor. Cooked over an open flame, the burgers have a gorgeously charred exterior and a nice pink center. Though advertised as cured in a “Himalayan salt-tiled locker,” the meat sure could use a good dose more of salt and pepper mixed in. The bun is an unassailable glossy sweet brioche.
Order This: A baby oak lettuce salad with beets, ringlets of sweet onion and hunks of bitey fetacheese or an equally impressive Cobb with slivers of bacon, a quarter of a perfectly ripe avocado, slabs of hot roasted chicken breast and cherry tomatoes so fresh you’d think they were grown out back. Super-salty fries made from firm and nutty Kennebec potatoes, fantastic sauted heirloom Bloomsdale spinach and seared broccolini.
A hefty artichoke slit in half and gently fried until super soft so that the leaves come off with a gentle tug. It is served with what is supposed to be an herbed aioli but for us, at least, was plain melted butter.
Missed the Mark: Try as we might, we could not get a waiter to sell us veggie burgers, which we were told are not yet up to par. The corn dog with purple mustard was sold out on multiple visits.
Note: Until the end of March, diners can ask for a free 12-ounce beer with any burger. Servers are forbidden to offer it.
8 Oz. Burger Bar, 1080 Alton Rd., Miami Beach; 305-397-8246. Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday.Prices: Burgers $8-$10, snacks $5-$7, salads $4-$10, sides $4.
FYI: No reservations. Full bar with micro brews and specialty cocktails. Free parking lot and metered street spots. MC, Primecard, VS.