Balsamic Blue Cheese Burger

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Restaurant:  Bar 145, 71 Celebration Drive, Rochester, NY  (585) 360-2458

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When a new restaurant makes big claims about their big burger, I make it my business to investigate. Because I know you’re counting on me. And because, well, burgers.

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Recently opened in the new College Town development near the campus at the University of Rochester, Bar 145 is a gastropub that specializes in burgers, bands and bourbon. Their menu says the restaurant got its name because 145 degrees is the temperature of a perfectly cooked medium rare burger.

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My expectations were high.

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There are 10 burgers on the menu but you can also build your own from their selection of 10 artisan cheeses, 14 house-made sauces, and more than 23 toppings. When reviewing a dish, I prefer to order from the menu, out of respect for the chef’s vision and to better represent what you, our reader, would be likely to sample. I also believe that the test of a good burger is whether it can it can stand on its own without a lot of fancy finishes. When it comes to the burger at Bar 145, the answer is a resounding yes.

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I chose the Balsamic Blue because of the simplicity and originality of its preparation, which gave me the opportunity to appreciate the burger itself, and also to get a sense of just how gastro a gastropub Bar 145 was likely to be.

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Friends, I’m going to say something surprising now. Something I’ve never said before. This was the best blue cheese burger I have ever had.

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As you’ve heard me say many (many) times in this column, innovation and creativity never go unnoticed by me, but ultimately I’m a stickler for quality and harmony. Give me simple, well prepared ingredients that are best in quality, combined to enhance each other other’s natural flavors and you’ve made me a happy food writer. In consideration of that ideal, this burger was an unmitigated success.

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The obviously fresh, perfectly prepared char-grilled patty was delicious in and of itself. It came topped with fresh, tangy, rich, Stella bleu cheese which melted into the meat, enhancing the flavor of the beef. A subtly sweet balsamic glaze balanced the saltiness and sharpness of the cheese and richness of the meat. In a twist I didn’t expect, fresh arugula and shaved carrots were a welcome addition, balancing all that rich, fatty goodness with freshness and crunch, while a pretzel roll kept it earthy and light-hearted. The burgers are also served with fresh cut truffle fries of the same impressive quality. At just $13, this is a fantastic burger at a fantastic price.

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-Allison Zimmer, A-List Contributor

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