This is a very, very specific review. Dram Shop is many things – a bar, a place to hang out and play games, a bar where you can watch sports games…and it’s a restaurant. I didn’t bother trying any alcohol, though a quick glance at the drinks menu says Dram Shop has a LOT of alcohol…and some pretty good names, too. Saw my favorite 18 year old whiskey on there (Yamazaki)! But I controlled myself. This wasn’t a $25 per glass kind of night. Me and my boyfriend were starving, and this is purely a food review.
The atmosphere is very nice – it’s dark, rather inviting, with a huge wooden door on the outside that makes it look like an old tavern. Flatscreen TV’s glow above the well-stocked bar, a shuffleboard lines the left wall, two pool tables sat in the back section, and a series of wooden tables fill the long middle of the room. We shared a table with another couple (not a booth), which I absolutely don’t mind. I mention it only because for some reason, others do, but those people are ridiculous and clearly are not from a big, overpopulated city. I’m not just talking about NYC, it gets worse outside of the US. Anyway, the ambience was actually really nice for a bar. There were some big, spacious booths on the righthand wall, but those were for bigger parties. Groups of a dozen. I hear there’s a dartboard somewhere – probably in the back section with the pool tables. If you like watching sports at a bar or playing some games while you drink, this is probably a great place. Dram Shop should get another review based solely on the “bar” experience.
But let’s talk food.
This place is well known for food…specifically, its burgers. I’ve heard strangers talk about it. People have told my boyfriend about it. There are a bunch of awards and stickers on the window, again specifically for their “burger and fries”. If you check it out on yelp, you’ll find even more reviews gushing about how good the burgers are.
And I’m here to say….I’m not a fan. I kind of feel bad saying that. But I’m not. There were a lot of things that sounded good on the menu, like brats and fried macaroni! But the awards and reviews all said the burgers were amazing, so I wanted to try their “best”. And I was rather disappointed. It was a grass-fed beef burger, apparently split in to two thin patties, with pickles, LOTS of (probably Dijon) mustard, lettuce, onions, and some bacon that I had them add. The bacon was the BEST part of the burger!!! They were fried to perfection with a great crispy crunch to it, but not so dry and just a little bit chewy. Perfect. But the burger itself…? It wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t bad. But it was mediocre, and especially for Brooklyn….especially for Park Slope….that’s not acceptable. There’s just so much good food in that neighborhood that there is absolutely no reason to eat that burger, if what you want is a Damn Good Burger. I’d rather go to 67 Burger, which lacks in atmosphere but 1000% makes up for in taste. Flipsters has a better burger too, though I’d rank it below 67 Burger.
You can’t even see the beef patty in my picture, and there’s a reason for that. When I eat a burger, I expect the meat to be the star. The beef patty was McDonalds-thin, and even with two of them in there I just couldn’t taste it. The dijon was way too overpowering, as were the pickles and American cheese. So I have no idea if this grass-fed meat was really worth its cost. When we passed by the kitchen on the way out of the restaurant, my boyfriend pulled me aside. He pointed at the grills and said, “You see that? Burger meat, left unattended on the grill. How long are they even cooking it? That’s why this place sucks, they don’t know the first thing about cooking a burger.”
And like I said, the patties were THIN (and grey). Even with a thick slab of ground meat, you could blink and end up leaving the burger on the grill too long.
The hand-cut fries were pretty good, but again nothing that amazing or special. Nothing to make me remember it or crave it. It wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t exceptional, it was just…fries.
My boyfriend ordered the grass-fed beef chili, which had jalapenos, sour cream, some kind of cheese…..it looked and sounded great! But again, rather mediocre. I actually think the butcher shop, Prime Meats, has a better tasting chili than this one. If this is their B-team, their backup chef, they really gotta switch his schedule….Friday night dinners should be done by their best kitchen staff.
Our waiter was exceptionally nice, I have to say. Really friendly, and didn’t charge me extra when I accidentally spilled my Pepsi :( So…extra tip for her!
To sum things up, Dram Shop is probably awesome as a bar to socialize and hang out with your friends. If this bar/restaurant was anywhere else in the US, I’d probably say it was really good. But it does not have the best burger in New York, nor Brooklyn, nor Park Slope. The food is exceedingly mediocre. If you’re drunk, maybe it can breach 3 stars by this neighborhood’s standards, but we weren’t drunk. I wouldn’t go back again, since there are so many other good eats to be had in Park Slope.