When you have a restaurant called Buns Bar, you’d better bring it in the burger department. The tiny Manhattan joint’s co-owner Luke Pascal and his team do. Their menu is packed with 18 sliders and burgers sandwiched between just about every type of bun you can imagine: slices of grilled sourdough, pretzel buns, steamed bao buns, ciabatta rolls, brioche rolls — even a freakin’ donut.
Someone else might call it a day; six bun options is plenty. But Luke Pascal’s mind never really shuts off when he’s walking around his restaurant, which is how he wound up adding a seventh kind of bun to the list a few weeks back. Buns Bar shares a kitchen with its sister restaurant Chuck & Blade, where chefs serve fried mozzarella triangles. They’re essentially giant mozzarella sticks, and Pascal had bigger dreams for them than just the tomato sauce they’re usually topped with.
“I just turned to our chef one day and said, ‘We should put a burger on that,'” Pascal says. And that’s how the 21st Century Burger came to be: a 10-ounce beef patty with lettuce and tomato that’s served between two deep-fried slabs of cheese. There’s a scoop of avocado slices on top too, in case you didn’t think the burger itself would satisfy you. “It was my way of reinventing the cheeseburger,” Pascal adds. Many of the restaurant’s Instagram fans come in just to try it. “They’ll literally order off their phone,” Pascal laughs. “They’ll just show their waiter a picture of what they want.”
And while you’d think the futuristic name would attract a younger clientele, Pascal admits it’s sometimes more of a hit with those of the classic burger generation — ahem, dads. “I saw two come in with their daughters — who ordered regular sliders — and they each ordered a 21st Century Burger,” Pascal remembers. The girls polished off their meals, while one of the dads had to tap out. “But when he said he wanted to take it home,” Pascal says, “I thought, ‘Okay, we’ve got a good thing here.'”