The intersection of good drinks and good burgers—or as the sign above the bar says, good booze and great burgers—is at the dimly lit, always busy, comfortable but lively Plan B in West Hartford. The booths are large and comfortable; deuces are a liitle too close together. The men's room has one of the most unusual decor choices I've ever seen: an 8'x8' mirror opposite the toilet.
A few different buns are available here, but in two visits I went with the pretzel bun both times. If you're not getting the Pretzel Burger that includes it automatically, this bun is a 59-cent upgrade but well worth it. I like the soft, fresh texture and the subtle sweetness that never overpowers. The more typical buns also look good: large, doughy, fresh and pliable. This area is a solid strength.
Different from any burger I've tried previously, the Plan 9 beef is raised humanely, wet aged to give it some extra flavor (though it falls far short of funky) and packed so loosely that it crumbles apart after cooking. It looks like jumbly, crumbly beef that would go into a chili or spaghetti sauce, but its texture and flavor both remind me of the shaved beef in a cheesesteak sandwich, only much more gentle and velvety. It's beefy for sure.
Doneness options are limited to two: "some pink" and "no pink." The sever explained that it's because everyone has a different interpretation of medium rare, but I suspect otherwise. Evidently, there are different interpretations of "some pink," because my "some pink" burger had no pink and, while hardly dry, was much less juicy than it could have been.
Seasoning was minimal on both visits, as was outer crusting. Fortunately the beef had enough natural flavor on its own, but who wouldn't want more?
Bacon, cheese and onions did their part admirably without standing out. The cheese was sufficiently melted, the onions were moist and the bacon (very thick one time, very thin another) was crunchy and crisp. All took a back seat to the beef and bun.
Fries were underwhelming on both visits. There are more options here for size and shape, but the result was minimally seasoned and starchy across the board. Onion rings are a tower of crunch but a failure in the flavor department. You can upgrade to fried mushrooms, which looked good at another table. An entire half sour pickle graces the plate in a stylish presentation.
The Bottom Line
I want to love Plan B but there are too many shortcomings to get beyond a strong like. If they can give me some pink, I might give them some love. Either way, they have a unique and interesting beef treatment that'll get me back from time to time, though I could do without the fries. Service and atmosphere are excellent.
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