You build a business with great ideas plus the courage to act on them. Valentine’s Day is a traditionally strong day for restaurants, but not necessarily for burger joints. Owner Sam Glynn and his team at Chomp Kitchen and Drinks in Warren, R.I., refused to accept conventional wisdom or conventional promotions. Thus was born the first all-burger prix-fixe Valentine’s Day menu.
“Prix-fixe dinners for Valentine’s Day are in vogue, but we’d never before considered that we could do one with burgers, which aren’t the most romantic food in many people’s minds,” says Glynn. “But we thought this could be cost-effective for us and a really fun, accessible prix-fixe option.” Glynn wasn’t sure diners would agree but Chomp sold out reservations for four turns of the 22-seat dining room within days of the dinner’s announcement. Walk-ins without reservations or not interested in the Valentine’s dinner can be accommodated at Chomp’s 16-seat bar.
For the first of the $35 Valentine’s menu’s three courses, diners are served a sampler of three sliders: Mini Wellington (beef patty, local mushroom duxelle, Cabernet ketchup and demi-glacé aïoli served on a puff pastry bun); Falafel (chickpea, garlic and fresh herb patty with hot pickled peppers, smoky hot sauce and tzatziki, served on a sumac panisse bun) and Reuben (house pastrami patty, Chomp sauce hollandaise, Dijon mustard and fried-pickle garnish, served on toasted rye).
The second course offers guests their choice of one of three full-size burgers: Bolognese Burger (pork, brisket, and beef patty, mirepoix, pancetta and Parmesan cheese, topped with Bolognese sauce on toasted focaccia); Moroccan Lamb Burger (Merguez-spiced lamb patty, mint and parsley, Moroccan glaze and smoked feta cheese, on a toasted flour roll) and Blackened Turkey Burger (chipotle-blackened turkey patty, roasted poblanos, green chili sauce, crispy plantains, cilantro aïoli and avocado).
Dessert is a must for Valentine’s Day and Chomp has one: a Red Velvet Whoopie “Burger” with stout ice cream and dark chocolate cherry sauce. The meal includes a pint or cocktail with a four-beer flight available for an extra change.
Emboldened by the success of the Valentine’s dinner, Glynn says he is considering what could be done along the same lines for Mother’s Day (also not a huge day for most burger bars). Chomp tried a brunch menu on the first Sunday in January, but Glynn says that while successful, brunch’s need for a completely different menu created operational challenges. But he has learned that if he creates something new and appealing, diners will come.
Another unusual Valentine’s Day promotion takes place at a South St. Burger’s Burger Bar locations in location. There it has unveiled what it says is a one-of-a-kind “Burger Bed” (above) where on Feb. 13 and 14 10 lucky couples who make reservations will lounge and dine.
The $35 Burger Bed Valentine’s Day Menu includes two 6-oz. burgers, a fry and ring basket, two strawberry milkshakes and two “burger” cupcakes. The promotion also draws attention to South St. Burger Bar’s addition of table service and a separate dinner menu (available after 5 p.m.).
Some other burger-related Valentine’s Day promotions:
Boston Burger Company’s Boston-area locations will offer a $50-per-couple menu from Feb. 11 through Feb. 14. First course is choice of a beet salad; crostini with prosciutto and goat cheese; or poutine fries. Second course is choice of an Aphrodisiac Burger (Certified Angus Beef patty, fried oysters, blue cheese crumbles, Sriracha mayo and Grillo’s pickles); Hunk of Burning Love Burger (8-oz. Angus patty, prosciutto, cream cheese and Bonnie’s red pepper jelly); or The Sicilian Kiss (veggie panini, roasted eggplant, zucchini, tomato and onion with agrodolce sauce, provolone and arugula). Dessert is a Red Velvet or Candy Heart milkshake.
The London outpost of French burger bar Big Fernand has created Le Valentin burger (at l.), available beginning Sunday. The build is French Charolais beef—minced in-house—with wild mushrooms, sweet mayo and Neufchatel in a poppy-seed bun, finished with chives and (allegedly aphrodisiac) truffle oil.
Burger Jones in Minneapolis is offering two burgers, fries and a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne. All for just $139.99. But that’s for two.
Abbey Burger Bistro in Baltimore is asking customers to decide between two Surf & Turf burgers for that day: One is a Kobe beef burger and butter-poached lobster tail with Brie & sriracha hollandaise; the other is Kobe beef burger & tempura-fried lobster tail with Brie & sriracha aïoli.
Milwaukee Burger Company in Eau Claire, Wis., has an “Anti-Valentine’s” menu with a Black Heart Burger (Cajun-seasoned burger, topped with blue cheese potato salad and balsamic buffalo sauce) and beers from Surly Brewing Co.
Rockit Burger Bar in Chicago will have heart-shaped versions of its Mac Attack Burgers (quarter-pound Black Angus patty between two fried mac-and-cheese buns with lettuce, tomato, scallions and sriracha ketchup).
Toma Burger Addiction in Toronto has a special offer of two burgers, shared fries, a glass of wine or dessert for $29.95. The burger choices: The Westcoast (chicken), El Rio Grande (beef and guac), The Neapolitan (beef and buffalo mozzarella), The Wildlife (beef, Swiss and truffle oil), The Kalamb (lamb roasted red peppers) and The Perfect Wedding (beef and Spanish chorizo).
Umami Burger is launching Dessert Sliders (below) and will give one free at selected locations with any burger purchase on Valentine’s Day. After that they will be sold at two for $8.