Munch Goes to Burgatory

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'Tis the time of year, apparently, when one food trend seeds itself in the 'Burgh, sprouts wings and begins to breed like stinkbugs. Really delicious stinkbugs, that is, in the form of burgers with funny names and frothy spiked milkshakes.

The era of the gourmet burger place is upon us, with BRGR in East Liberty, Burgh'ers in Harmony, and now Burgatory in the Waterworks shopping center near Aspinwall.

Cupcakes? Tart frozen yogurt? The food trends of yesteryear, so says Munch.

To see for Munch-self, Munch brought a couple Gluttonous Co-workers of Munch (is there any other kind?) to check out Burgatory, which opened in mid-January.

That Burgatory is next to an Uncle Sam's sub shop is no coincidence. The burger joint is the latest offering from the folks who own Uncle Sam's, as well as Joe Mama's and Fuel & Fuddle in Oakland.

With slogans like "Blessed be the Burger" and red plastic pitchforks used as burger toothpicks, the restaurant plays with its semi-religious moniker. A goofy flow chart at the entrance thoroughly entertained the party of Munch during the rather short wait for a table.

The menu promises "Helluva Burger and Heavenly Shakes" and does not disappoint.

The party of Munch had planned to order one shake total, but quickly crumbled under the rather amazing menu descriptions, ordering one each. Which led Munch, who drank most of the Coffee and Donuts shake ($5.50, Kona coffee, glazed donuts, vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup), to the conclusion that while good alone, the shakes are probably much better shared.

Munch might even be so bold as to suggest a warning label for the shakes. "Don't drink this whole thing unless you intend to groan about your stomach for the rest of the day, silenced only by your head hitting your desk as you fall asleep." A completely unscientific guess would place the shakes at 14,000 calories each, with 800 grams of fat. Again, just a guess.

The shakes are huge, made with Burgatory's homemade vanilla ice cream and stuffed with goodies such as pretzels, fruit loops and bourbon (not all in the same drink).

And while we're on the topic of drinks, Burgatory also offers cocktails, somewhere around 50 bottled beers and a rotating dozen taps.

The party of Munch also had some difficulties with restraint on the food portion of the menu, all ordering burgers as well as an appetizer of onion rings ($6.50) and side orders of jalapeno corn bread ($3) and mac-n-cheese ($3.95).

The onion rings were more like onion bling -- huge pieces of onion with an even huger amount of breading, best eaten with a knife and fork and dipped generously in a spicy chipotle horseradish mayo.

The cornbread was a real standout, topped with honey butter, filled with real corn kernels and humming with jalapenos.

The burgers didn't disappoint either. Munch would have preferred slightly different proportions on the Phat Patti's Veggie ($9), namely less burger and more of the smoked gouda and avocado wasabi fixins. One of Munch's Gluttonous Colleagues also noted bizarre proportions on his Buffaloed Bison burger ($11), with the burger stretching far, far beyond the perimeter of the bun. And while Munch's other Gluttonous Co-Worker could only eat half of her Farmer Brown burger ($9.50, beef burger with an over-easy egg and maple cured ham), that was due not to a deficiency in the burger but to the consumption of a (roughly) 14,000 calorie shake.

Munch would return to Burgatory, sure, but plans on maybe just ordering a salad next time. And some cornbread. And a burger. And, OK -- who is Munch fooling -- a shake.


Burgatory is at 932 Freeport Road in the Waterworks Mall (in an enclave near the Giant Eagle). Information: 412-781-1456 or www.burgatorybar.com .


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