BB Lemon, the new Berg Hospitality Group restaurant taking after New York City's JG Melon, has all the trappings of a New York City shotgun-style restaurant.
For one, the bar area is narrow. You might have to shimmy if traveling from the front dining space to the more intimate back space. For me, a born and bred East Coast kid, that's comforting, because I love the feeling that at any moment the world (or at least the back of someone's bar chair) will crash into you. For you, results my vary.
Two, that back area is a peach. It's dimly lit, has plentiful booth seating, and gives diners a nice view of raw bar prep.
Then there are the little things. Berg pointed out the phone he installed in the front of the restaurant—it's an actual New York City pay phone. And it works. Call BB Lemon, and someone will pick up from that phone. My goodness, yes. Then there are framed photos of Texas legends in back of the bar, much like the signed photos of C-list celebrities in every old-school burger and Greek joint in the Big Apple. "Best gyro around!" signed Joe Piscopo, 1990.
But I tasted some of the food there, and one thing that certainly puts it up against JG Melon and those old-school joints? The burger is superb. A hefty patty of West Texas wagyu (of course it's wagyu). Two squishy brioche buns. Some red onions and pickles on the side, if you want to dress it. Bacon optional. Cheddar optional. That's it. No leaves or veggies. And the meat steals the show: juicy, of course, but infused with a subtle woodsy flavor.
Start your meal with the New England clam chowder. It's oilier than what I'm used to, but it's stocked with fresh clams and a seductively briny flavor. Close it with the brownie a la mode that comes with a cloud of marshmallow fluff, a dollop of vanilla, blueberries, and mint sprigs. I never knew blueberry and mint were perfect partners for a brownie sundae.
With solid interpretations of classic metropolitan fare, a killer burger, and a freakin' pay phone, BB Lemon is the restaurant you'll want to visit with friends after a Broadway show. It just so happens to be here in Houston.