Just as food can leave its mortal shell and transcend to new heights, so are the days when a burger was fast food. Christened now to a cult-like gourmet status, the trendy burger has been reincarnated into something more powerful than we could have ever imagined. In a testament to these ideas (both new and old) – I became witness to the genesis of Burgatory in Waterworks Mall.
As the origination of the first burger is something of a mystery, there are conflicting schools of thought; some people have faith that the first made-to-order burger was given at the Garden of Eatin’ – when Adam gave Eve her very first McRib. Others are adamant about the evidence of cavemen lounging with fossilized burgers outside the Hard Rock. What makes these people burger judges and why is their word law? To these narrow-minded people, I say they can go to hell – actually better yet, they can go to Burgatory.
Burgatory brings down from the mountain more than one could have ever anticipated. Just a few sacrilegious burger choices like… Lump crab, organic bison, herbed foccacia, kona crust, cracked peppercorn, smoked gouda, spicy marinara, avocado wasabi, chipotle sour cream, fried egg, brandied peppercorn, roasted red peppers, arugula and scallions are all available choices (plus many dozens more). Burgatory may or may not be your Father’s restaurant, but numbers are clearly there.
So I arrived on Tuesday evening around 8:30pm, and unfortunately there was a 45 minute wait. Normally I would disapprove as a 45 minute wait makes me feel as though I was fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. But at Burgatory they don’t give you one of those old reservation buzzer things – they ask for your cell number and send you a text, a very forward thinking and great concept. Gone are the days of waiting around looking dumb and holding a red coaster in your hand while your table is prepared. In fact they even text you after your meal. How many restaurants have I been to that texted me? Nun.
Ironically, the best revelation was that the service at Burgatory was beyond friendly. Our waiter named Greg was saintly – and since we were new to Burgatory, he explained everything that we needed to know in order to reach burger paradise. Thank you Saint Greg.
We ordered burgers and handpicked the ingredients. I requested the caramel pretzel shake – smooth enough for the straw, but the crunchy pieces of pretzel joined with the sweetness of the caramel quite wonderfully. We also ordered their fresh baked corn and jalapeno cornbread. I have never seen cornbread like this. It had minute pieces of cooked corn inside a perfect hunk of cornbread, with sinister jalapeno lurking about for a spicy tang and lying in a pile of scallions. We had cocktails and enjoyed ourselves like we too were the angels up on high.
Their menu was impressive within chronicles of appetizers like Fire Kissed Sriracha Wings, the Slider 3-Way and of course Skinny Dippn’ – how can one not attempt an exodus to Burgatory to revel in these sinful things?
Besides creating your own burger, there are of course Burgatory’s Specialty dishes. From the What a Jerk – Jamaican jerk rubbed chicken burger with Provolone, grilled pineapple, caramelized onion marmalade, cilantro leaves and banana ketchup on a whole wheat bun – to the Farmer Brown – an all natural beef burger, an over easy egg, maple cured ham, farmhouse cheddar and crisp lettuce with a dab of mayo.
Don’t want a burger? Go gluttonous with the Drunken BBQ Ribs – Slow cooked baby back ribs basted with bourbon BBQ and finished on the grill. What about dessert? Join the battle of good and evil with Angels and Demons ($5!) Two fresh baked cupcakes with butter cream icing. Where burgers will be, Burgatory fans the flames of originality. From altared appetizers to cocktails and starters – they have it all. I hear they even have happy hour specials. For a filling dinner for two, the meal (including cocktails and a shake) was $30.
However I would be remiss in this review if I did not mention a few other great Pittsburgh burger locales; Liberty Avenue’s Tessaros and BRGR in East Liberty. I can also admit I have even stopped by many a Kings or Applebee’s for a burger in my travels. However after confessing this, and after visiting Burgatory, I cannot ever look back, for like the pillar of salt in the Pittsburgh area, Burgatory stands alone.
Out of 4 – I give Burgatory 4 and a (golden) calf
Where is Burgatory?
932 Freeport Rd (map)
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
What are their hours?
Monday – Thursday: 11:00am – 10:00pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am – 10:00pm