Blue Collar Brings West Coast Burgers to Brooklyn

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Yesterday, on the way to play with kittens and puppies at an animal shelter in Williamsburg, I walked right by Blue Collar, the latest cheap patty place to open in New York. Suddenly, I was craving a juicy, one-hand burger. That hunger mixed with the eatery’s breezy, open windows, intimate-yet-airy space, and the burger shake décor, made me walk in.

Blue Collar opened last week and is owned by Gavin Compton and Jeff Slag, who run the charming new American restaurant Miller’s Tavern nearby. With their latest venue, the team aims to bring West Coast-style burgers to city saturated with Shake Shacks. Chef Brian Perry told the New York Times Blue Collar is similar to the California-based burger chain In-N-Out, and, given on the prices and style, it’s clear he isn’t lying. You can get a basic hamburger with lettuce, tomato, secret sauce, and pickles for $4, and 75 cents gets you goopy yellow cheese on top. They have an array of hand-spun milkshakes like peanut butter, cookies and cream, plus a rotating flavor (Heath Bar, I believe, yesterday). They also serve the burger joint basics like crisp, golden fries, a beef hotdog, and, you can add chili to anything for $1.50.

But, the final question: is the burger good? Short answer: yes, it’s a perfectly fine, simple, cheap patty, though there isn’t a lot of flavor going on in the meat. Given the choice, I would pick Shake Shack, Bill’s Bar and Burger, or Five Guys for my low-key burger fix, but, for a quick and easy filler upper while stumbling home from the bar (they are open until midnight on weekdays and 2am on Friday and Saturday), Blue Collar is everyman’s burger. 

New York Openings: Kent Ale House, Lake Trout, Blue Collar

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Williamsburg cuisine is all over the map. There’s no shortage of trendy, overpriced joints utilizing buzzwords like “locally sourced” and “micro-organic.” Sometimes, you just want something simple. Three of the nabe’s newest players provide a counterbalance to pretense. At Kent Ale House, Lake Trout, and Blue Collar you can find tried-and-true essentials that won’t make a dent in your finances.

Kent Ale House, across from Williamsburg Park, puts the emphasis on its smart selection of New York and New England craft beers. The menu covers snacks like spicy popcorn and sweet potato fries, as well as a “build your own burger” section with beef, bison, and veggie options. A pre-Prohibition mahogany bar from previous owners is still here, along with the requisite chalkboard, subway tile, and exposed bulbs. 
 
On the south side, Fette Sau‘s Matt Lang elevates the fried whiting sandwich, which you know from your marathon Wire sessions as lake trout. The interior doesn’t exactly put on airs, with Orioles-orange plastic chairs, rec room wood paneling, and Charm City sports legends on the wall. Lake Trout’s menu goes beyond its trademark sammy to include fried shrimp, chicken wings, and grandma’s crab cake recipe. Believe, hon.
 
At the same address you’ll find Blue Collar and its classic burgers and dogs. An efficient space pumps out West Coast-style patties that are cooked to order and won’t drain your wallet. The beer and wine isn’t on line yet, but in the meantime they’re serving creative milkshakes like peanut butter and cookies ‘n’ cream.