"The BK Black & Bleu Steakhouse XT" ($7.69) utilizes a double-thick patty. Photo: Robert Sietsema
I have a confession to make: Ever since I was a kid, I've loved Whoppers. There was something about the out-sized patty – even though it was razor thin – and its ability to absorb smoke, coupled with the salad on top that somehow gave the thing a "healthy" aura, that hooked me young.
When given the assignment of checking out the new upscale BK hamburger joint in midtown Manhattan, which promised beer in addition to Whoppers, I was elated, though also skeptical. The place is called Whopper Bar, which sounds like a place that fishermen go to tell lies about the fish they've caught. It's occupies a bi-level corner space in the Garment District just south of Times Square, and they must be paying a whopping rent for the premises. Instead of the usual arrangement of tables and chairs, there are counters with stools, and oddly shaped tables thrown every which-way, with plenty of room in between for the lines of curiosity seekers now forming to try the new and weird menu.
Instead of the usual uniforms, the staff is dressed in black, as if they were secret ops in Mission Impossible. Still, the installation and arrangement of food machines behind the counter is the usual packed welter, and the employees bump into each other in the confined space just like Keystone Cops, as per usual. The menu begins with a normal Whopper, and then mutates the hell out of it in a half-dozen variations. I tried the three most interesting and daring, but was denied a chance to try a fourth – the so-called Meat Beast, which features pepperoni, cheese, and "crispy bacon" – because, as the counter gal told me, "I don't think we've ever had any pepperoni here." Quite an oversight on their part, considering it's this place is showcasing new products.