Variety is the spice of life; there are literally hundreds of choices in the cereal aisle and enough ice cream options to take up an entire freezer section in the grocery store. Sometimes, all of those choices are overwhelming, so I found it refreshing that Uptown Burger Bar in South County Commons is making burgers and just burgers.
Uptown Burger Bar opened in August, another entry in the already bustling South County Commons dining scene. The atmosphere is bright and welcoming. To me, it feels like an old-school soda fountain, but modernized with granite and sleek light fixtures. It is upscale without being uptight.
One of the ways Uptown Burger Bar has modernized its business is by having a cashless/self-service ordering system that worked well. There are two iPads set up by the restaurant’s entrance where you place your order. If self-service isn’t for you, they also had a waitress taking orders from the tables, and you could also order from the bartender. The restaurant uses Swipe for a Cause to handle its credit card transactions, which donates 5% of its profits to Hope Hospice & Palliative Care Rhode Island. Another modern touch is accepting reservations, which was important on the busy Saturday night I was there.
Uptown Burger Bar prides itself on its commitment to local products and to a small and sustainable environment. Everything they serve comes from New England. The ground beef comes from Pineland Farms in Maine and is all-natural, antibiotic-free and humanely raised. The hamburger buns come from Homestead Bakery in East Providence, the soda is from Empire Soda in Bristol, and that’s just a small list of the local products they use. Also, to help minimize the restaurant’s impact on the environment, they recycle all of the cooking oil (it’s made into biofuel), their plastic cups and covers are made entirely from plants, and their cardboard containers are all compostable.
We started with a round of drinks and sampled some of the great local beers on their list: a Grey Sail Great Ketch ($8), a Two Roads Roadsmary’s Baby ($5.50) and a Stony Creek Sun Juice ($5.50), while the teetotalers in our group all enjoyed their Empire Soda ($2.95). The restaurant also offers milkshakes, house wines and sangria.
Since we had five people in our group, we were able to try five different specialty burgers. We all agreed that the 5.3-ounce burger patties were just the right size – not too big, not too small. The brioche buns were fresh and substantial enough to hold all of the toppings we had piled on our burgers. We also all agreed that the meat itself was flavorful and could have stood on its own. I ordered the Fig and Onion Burger ($9.95). It was the perfect blend of flavors – sautéed onions, bacon, fig jam and gorgonzola cheese. The fig jam was sweet and played nicely with the salty bacon and the tang of the cheese. The sautéed onions added a nice texture and earthy flavor. My mother opted for the Georgia Peach Burger ($8.95) with grilled peaches, sweet peach glaze and bacon, and my father chose the Hawaiian Burger ($8.95) which topped the beef with grilled pineapple, avocado spread, teriyaki sauce and bacon. My father is a burger connoisseur and he thought the grilled pineapple gave it a great flavor. My brother ordered the Bumble Bee Burger ($7.95), so named because a portion of the proceeds go to saving bees. It comes topped with a tasty cranberry goat cheese and a drizzle of Cape Cod honey. Our family friend tried the Vermont Maple Bacon & Cheese Burger ($8.95) with bacon, maple bacon jam and cheddar cheese. She raved over the bacon jam.
As far as side dishes go, Uptown Burger Bar offers a choice of Seasoned Tater Tots ($3.95), Hand Made Fries ($3.95), Onion Rings ($4.95) and an Uptown Salad ($7.95). Our favorite of the side dishes was the Tater Tots. They were exceptionally crisp and I could have eaten the entire serving myself. The onion rings were also tasty, crisp and flavorful.
With reasonable prices, delicious food and a commitment to local suppliers and sustainability, Uptown Burger Bar proves that you don’t need to offer a wide variety of food to be successful. Next time I want a good hamburger, I’ll be back.
Uptown Burger Bar
36 South County Commons Way, South Kingstown