Just over a decade ago, the gourmet burger was something that was not only completely unheard of in the culinary world, but also an idea that most chefs would find entirely insane. That is, of course, until 2001 when Chef Daniel Boulud of DB Bistro Moderne in Manhattan unveiled a $27 cheeseburger on his menu simply called the “DB Burger.” Although there was some skepticism over a $27 burger, the monstrous blend of exotic cuts of meat with a dollop of foie gras inside the burger patty quickly won over the hearts of diners, and not long after, “gourmet burger bars” started popping up all over the country, serving inventive burger creations alongside craft beers. In Warren, Chomp Kitchen and Drinks – Rhode Island’s newest gourmet burger bar – is quickly becoming a favorite of red-meat-and-beer-loving customers, and for justifiable reasons. Chomp features a menu stocked with hand crafted burgers, creative sandwiches and craft brewed beer and best of all, everything is well under $27.
From the outside, Chomp doesn’t look like much. Located in a small building situated on a main road, it would be easy to pass right by without noticing. Inside, the space has the look and feel of a tavern. The bar and tables are made of unstained wood, and the draft menu is hand written on a chalk board, with a representational picture drawn next to each selection. To start, I had a Curious Traveler to drink. Curious Traveler is a shandy (beer brewed with citrus) brewed in Vermont. Shandies do tend to be a bit sweet, but Curious Traveler is not overly sweet like some others. Later in the meal, I had a Foolproof Barstool, a popular light ale brewed in Pawtucket. While both beers were pretty light, the Barstool is much more hoppy and less sweet. I found this to be a great beer to pair with something a little heavy like a burger. The staff here knows their beer and helped us to pick the right brews.
For our first appetizer, we ordered the Crab and Cucumber cups ($12.99). These cucumber cups, stuffed with fresh crab sitting on a layer of watermelon jelly, were pretty light. The sweetness of the crab and watermelon complemented each other well, and the refreshing taste of the cucumber cut some of the sweetness, which stopped the dish from being cloying. The whole thing was balanced out by a sprinkling of spicy microgreens. The only thing that I did not like about this appetizer was that the menu description included “microgreen salad” which gave the impression of a larger portion of microgreens. While they added a nice zip to the dish, there just weren’t enough to be considered a salad. I thought this dish was a nice way for the chef to showcase that despite specializing in burgers, he also can cook food that is on the delicate side.
Another lovely appetizer was the Frickles ($6.99) which are house made fried pickles. Normally, fried pickles have one major downfall, and that is the acidity. When a cold food is heated, the flavors become much more intense, and frying something like pickles, that are already very strong, can make them too acidic. However, the house made pickles at Chomp are much less acidic than most storebought pickles, and frying them gave them a nice amount of acidity which was bright enough to taste but not enough to completely overpower the spices used in the pickling liquid. These “Frickles” are a must-order.
For our entrées, we wanted to sample both a burger and a sandwich from the menu. The list of burgers is short (five choices) but each one is very unique and choosing one of the five was difficult enough. We went with The Local ($7.99), which featured a hand-made chourico patty topped with American cheese, sautéed kale and yellow mustard. Despite our fear of the chourico patty being overly spiced, it was actually well balanced and kept the feel of a traditional burger patty with the signature spices of chourico. My favorite part of this burger was the sautéed kale which had a slight crunch and paid tribute to the classic Portuguese combination of chourico and kale. The yellow mustard added a nice tang, although if you’re not a mustard fan, it tastes equally delicious without any (we got ours on the side). For our sandwich, we tried the Porchetta Bahn Mi ($9.99). Although all of the sandwiches were creative, seeing a bahn mi on the menu of a burger bar was just interesting enough to coax us into ordering it. This was a very nice take on a classic bahn mi, stuffed with pork belly wrapped around pork loin and roasted, chili aioli, pickled carrots and a few traditional bahn mi toppings such as cucumber and cilantro. The pickling liquid from the carrots made parts of the baguette a little soggy, but otherwise, it was great.
Although I’m not always a red-meat-lover, everyone craves an over-sized, juicy burger from time to time, and when that craving comes around, it’s nice to know that there’s a place like Chomp where the simple things in life (beer and cheeseburgers) are greatly respected, and taken to new heights at the hands of a creative chef. Chomp is a must try for anyone with a taste for hearty fare.