1246 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
Being a big fan of the show Diner's Drive inns and Dives, I was ecstatic to know that my vacation schedule in Boston permitted a meal at Mr. Bartley's Gourmet Burgers, a famous Burger joint located next to Harvard University which was featured on the show.
Hosted by the one and only Guy Fieri, the episode highlights the best that Mr Bartley's has to offer: burgers and onion rings. Billy Bartley (son of the founder, Joe Bartley) has been learning the craft of burger making since he was 13, and ensures each burger uses only the freshest ingredients and minimal preservatives. Just a pinch of kosher salt on each! Guy Fieri ended up leaving very satisfied, and so I was definitely looking forward to having the same experience!
The HUGE line up Outside for Lunch
Let's start with the line up. Beginning from the entrance of the establishment, it stretches the block, often barricading the entrance for the entrances of other establishments. Lucky for us, we arrived just before this mob of a line up formed, and managed to nab the last table for 6 people.
A small place but efficient on space!
Second impressive feat, the decor! The place kind of reminds me of a retro-style college dorm room, filled with posters, bumper stickers, and other nostalgic artifacts. I could spend hours in there looking at everything!
Take Out Counter
Fun fact of the day: the big chalkboard at the back of the counter has been erected since the day Mr. Bartley's first opened!
As if I wasn't visually overwhelmed by the decor already, the pictureless menu of food offerings would certainly do it. And its not even the sheer quantity, its the names too! Each item is creatively named, pretty much forcing you to read all the ingredient descriptions to figure out which one you'd like. Was quite entertaining at one point.
As you place your order with the waitress, she relays it at the top of her lungs to the kitchen. After a while you can start to hear which are the most popular orders, and The Jeremy Lin (described as the "Pride of Harvard", a pizza burger with marinara sauce, mozzerella and french fries) definitely got a lot of loving that day! so you could tell which were the most popular burgers. So if you're like me and don't want to read all the descriptions, you can just try your luck with what your fellow patrons are ordering.
Souvenirs for your fancy
Elvis Frappe ($6.50)- Chocolate, banana, and Reese's
Nelson, who ordered this (@nelsonhu) is a big fan of Reese's Chocolate, so it wasn't a big surprise when he chose this flavour of milk shake. I decided to give it a try, and could barely suck it up the straw. This is a seriously thick milkshake! It's not ridiculously sweet as I would've imagined it, so it's not too heavy with all the deep fried food and burgers. At the end of it, I thought it was a pretty average tasting milkshake, and a little pricey given the small cup that it comes in.
The Jersey Shore ($13.75) - The situation is aweful. With Bacon, cheese, grilled mushrooms & onions
The Tom Brady ($10.75) - Don't pass on this. With cheddar, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, red onions and fries
The Iphone ($12.50) - "Sirii"ously delicious, ask her! with boursin cheese, grilled mushrooms & onions, and sweet potato fries
Medium rare patty
Mr. Bartley's can cook the patty to your liking, and the one featured above is a medium rare. The patty is nice and juicy, but I noticed there isn't much seasoning to it. As a result, the burger really relies on the condiments and sides for flavour. Luckily, they don't skimp out on that aspect. The mushrooms and onion and sauteed with a hint of smokey, and the boursin cheese on my Iphone Burger was an gigantic puck of rich and creamy flavour. If you choose the right condiments and toppings, this is one hefty and delicious burger! :)
What I didn't enjoy too much, were the sides. They must've made huge batches of the fries and onion rings to anticipate of the lunch rush, because they weren't particularly hot. The onion rings were more like onion strings, which I didn't prefer as much, but I did slide some into my burger and it gave a good crunch and flavour. Some great improvisation at work here!