Hours: Lunch: Thursday-Sunday; dinner: seven days
Open late: Saturday till 3, other nights till 2
Gastropub from Craig Fass and Mandy Franklin (Menagerie, Cooper's) featuring gourmet burgers and more than 60 beers.
Craig Fass and Mandy Franklin (Menagerie, Cooper's) opened their beer and burger bar the Bad Apple a scant half block south of the venerable Jury's, and while that institution attracts a decidedly different crowd, its burger is formidable and has been justly recognized as such for years. Now, with the Bad Apple shipping in a custom-ground beef mix from New York wholesale butcher Pat La Frieda, it's difficult not to imagine a gauntlet has been thrown down between the generations gathering on each side of Lincoln Avenue. In various instances Cass and Franklin see fit to bedeck their pedigreed beef with lily-gilding school-of-Kuma's-type arrangements, offering options like pulled pork and onion rings, ham and eggs, ham and pineapple, etc. But the more minimal preparations (one in fact named for La Frieda) better reveal a slight overmanipulation of the burger, resulting in a tougher, drier chew than the patties probably deserve. And since they cook up a size too small for their buns, I'd say Jury's has little to worry about in the burger department. A second category of sandwiches, many featuring some appealing beer-manipulated element—ale-brined pork, peanut butter and lambic jam, Witte-roasted chicken—show the kitchen is capable of more. A Kriek-cured duck confit with melted white cheddar on thick Texas toast is a gooey if salty alternative for those occasions when one can do without a burger piled high with centuries of geological strata. Accessorizing all of these sandwiches are golden brown hand-cut fries available in seven different flavors (truffle, curry, Old Bay, etc), which certainly appear attractive but could stand a much harder fry, particularly if they're expected to survive a deluge of gravy and cheese curds, as in the poutines. Where the Bad Apple clearly has the upper hand over Jury's—and most likely every other place in the neighborhood—is in its extensive and diverse beer selection.
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This spacious three-room bar always seems to be at least a little crowded, even at what ought to be dead hours, and it's not hard to see why—it has great burgers (I've heard it described as "Kuma's without the wait"), sandwiches, and salads, plus 24 taps of craft beer and cider and a generous bottle list. The cocktail menu is heavy on beer-based concoctions and relatively unpretentious—though it does make use of a selection of house-infused vodkas, whiskeys, and tequilas, which I suppose says "fancy" in some quarters. The Bad Apple is within sight of the Half Acre bottle shop and tap room, so make sure to drop in on those folks too. —Philip Montoro