Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert

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Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert

Classic Burger

Ground sirloin, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, ketchup, mustard
4.5 5
4.5 stars
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How We Rate How We Rate

 How We Rate
To give each burger a fair shot, we order the menu item that best resembles our "control burger": A plain cheddar cheeseburger, cooked medium. For more details, visit the Ratings Section of the About page.

The Venue

If you don't know why Eric Ripert is relevant enough to stick his name in the actual title of his DC-based restaurant--Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert--you really should. 

A two-time James Beard winner himself (essentially the Emmys or Oscars for restaurants) in "Outstanding Chef" categories, Ripert's flagship restaurant, Le Bernardin in New York City, has earned more awards than you can shake a stick at. It's earned the extremely rare and even more coveted four-star rating from the New York Times (the highest possible rating) and a three-star honor from the Michelin Guide in 2005 and 2006 (again, the highest possible rating).

Ripert opened up Westend Bistro in 2007 within the confines of the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC with the intention of offering "more economical" casual French and American bistro fare in DC's West End neighborhood.

The Experience

Given that we've all crossed "the wrong side of 30" threshold, inching ever closer to true "old fart" categorization, we visited the joint on one of those typical "it's already cold as hell, but the pissing down rain and the fact that it's pitch dark at 5:30pm makes it even more miserable" winter evenings in November, eager to try the place.

Outings to fancy dinner venues, with some of our wives in tow, now serve as substitutes for the evenings when we'd get excessively drunk, scope the place for members of the opposite gender and talk about nothing but sports the entire evening (okay, that last part hasn't really changed). The only upside now is: there are two people with well-compensating jobs to help pay for the bountiful bar tab we happily rang up over the course of the evening.

The restaurant was what you might expect from a place with Eric Ripert's name on it: classy, but surprisingly, not too stuffy.  We were seated at a table near the back of the restaurant, and felt comfortable in the space.  Later in the night though, it was clear that they wanted us to leave (no, it wasn't because someone got sick or threw ketchup on the windows--in this case, another party was waiting). They moved us to the bar and bought us a round of drinks--a nice touch.  But, back to the main reason we were there...

The Burger

After a few rounds of drinks and appetizers, it was time for the food (and more importantly, the burgers). Like clockwork, the standard order was placed: four "Classic" burgers--ground sirloin, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, ketchup and mustard, with cheddar cheese added on by request--cooked medium.

The first thing that jumped out at me, after I cut open the burger, was that it was absolutely perfectly cooked.

The first thing that jumped out at me, after I cut open the burger, was that it was absolutely perfectly cooked.

After the deliciously-alarming number of burgers we've all consumed to date, most of us would offer our proverbial kingdom for a burger that's actually cooked to order. In this case, no offering was necessary--the thick hamburger patty couldn't have been cooked any better.

The burger was very tasty and juicy--well above average in taste, for sure--but didn't really knock me out of my seat in the way that some of the burgers at more upscale joints did.

The ketchup (definitely made in-house) and mustard (also made in-house, with a good kick of horseradish) were both excellent. I thought the bun was very solid as well; it was big (maybe just a touch too big), fluffy and yet, dense enough to handle the juices from the burger without turning into mush.

The tomato, onions and pickles didn't bring anything outstanding in general to the burger table, but took nothing off of it, either. But I couldn't say the same thing about the lettuce: shredded, dry and wilted--an eyesore in comparison to the rest of the visually-pleasing product. Yes, there are a lot more things you could worry about when it comes to a burger, but why defile such a great product and great meal in general with well-below-average toppings?

The Judgment

In the end, this burger was nearly flawless, in that it did almost nothing "wrong" at all (with the exception of the lettuce), but there wasn't any real aspect that you'd call "extraordinary."

Bottom line: It's an incredibly solid burger to match this darn fine venue. We had a great time when we went, and this burger was one of the key reasons for it.

The Classic Burger at Westend Bistro

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By the Numbers

Overall score is a weighted average

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$16.00 Menu Price

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