I have to give big props to Bleu Restaurant & Lounge for wanting to get in the game. They contacted me via Twitter with an invitation to come down and try one of their B.Y.O or Build Your Own Burgers. Bleu (formerly Sole Restaurant) is part of the Westin Hotel. They’re located at 221 South 3rd, right across the street from the main entrance to the FedEx Forum. It’s a great location just a short walk from Beale Street and a perfect place to dine before or after a game or event.
I got a great vibe walking into Bleu. The decor is very contemporary and comfortably elegant with soothing shades of blue all throughout. Whether you’re having a business meeting, catching up with friends or out for dinner before a game, there’s a place for everyone here. There’s plenty of booth and table seating in the dining room and a big lounge and bar area immediately inside the front door.
My friend Jesse and I headed down to Bleu around noon and met up with another blogger friend, Tiffany Langston. While everything on the lunch menu looked really good, we were there for burgers. The B.Y.O. is only available for lunch. It’s a pretty cool concept and when all is said and done, you have the ability to really create the burger you’re craving. Like you would a sushi menu, you fill out your own B.Y.O. menu making the following selections:
- Choose your protein – Angus Beef $7.99 | Marinated Chicken Breast $7.99 | Ahi Tuna $9.99 | Fried Catfish $8.99 | Portabello Mushroom Cap $6.99 | Sliced Sirloin $8.99
- Choose your temperature – are, Medium Rare, Medium, Medium Well, Well
- Choose a bun – Kaiser Roll, Whole Wheat Bun, Poor Boy, Tortilla Wrap, Grilled Cheese Bun ($3
- Choose a sauce – Chipotle Mayo, Sweet Thai Chili Sauce, Spicy Fancy Sauce, Garlic Aioli, BBQ Sauce, Salsa
- Choose your cheese – American Yellow, Aged Cheddar, Jarlsberg Swiss, Sharp Provolone, Bleu, Local Goat
- Choose up to three – Iceberg Lettuce, Arugula, Sliced Pickles, Cole Slaw, Bermuda Onions, Jalapenos, Caramelized Onion, Sauteed Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Roasted Red Peppers
- Premium Toppings ($1 each) – Avocado, Fried Egg, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Onion Rings, Fried Tomato
- Choose your side – Hand-Cut Fries, Potato Salad, Fruit Cup, Sweet Potato Fries, Cole Slaw
It seemed a little over whelming at first, but once I got going, I had a clear vision of the burger I was building. I chose the Angus beef patty, cooked medium and served on the Kaiser roll. I also went with the Jarlsberg Swiss cheese, garlic aioli, caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms. I believe Jesse ordered the same but cooked medium-well and Tiffany, who also got a burger with Jarlsberg swiss, went with a whole wheat bun and a more traditional lettuce and tomato style burger. Jesse and I both ordered the hand-cut fries and Tiffany mixed it up by getting the sweet potato fries (which she didn’t share).
The Burgers at Bleu are something to be seen. I felt pretty good about the combination I built and that was 100% confirmed when those magnificent looking creations arrived at our table. And you don’t just see the burgers being placed in front of you, you breath them. That aroma is intoxicating. Whatever Chef Robert Nam Cirillo uses for seasoning is right on the money.
The burger patty tasted awesome and made an instant fan out of me. Although it was more medium-well than medium as I ordered, hands down it was one of the best tasting patties I’ve ever had. Between the seasoning used on the patty, the Jarlsberg cheese and the garlic aioli, it was nothing short of a mouthgasm. The sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions added some great additional flavors and textures making this burger a total winner. The only thing I really didn’t care for was the Kaiser Roll. In my opinion, it was too thick and took away from all the great other flavors going on. If I could have had that exact burger, cooked a little rarer and served on with a brioche bun instead, I think I would have called it a day and put this blog to rest.
The hand-cut fries were pretty awesome too. They reminded me a lot of the fries I was served at Interim. They were perfectly fried twice, but for my liking, served with a little too much salt. It didn’t stop me from finishing them, but I was thirsty all afternoon. Tiffany seemed to enjoy her burger and sweet potato fries. I’m sure she’ll blog about her experience soon. Jesse was right there with me. He loved his burger too, but agreed the Kaiser Roll was too much for the patty.
Chef Cirillo surprised us and came out to the table to say hello and check on the burgers. He also brought over a variety of sliders he concocted. These aren’t your ordinary sliders. They were each a tasty gourmet creation served on homemade steamed buns. Although no description could truly do these sliders justice, I’d go as far as saying they were each uniquely flavored slider explosions meets Dim Sum. The steamed buns were moist and doughy with a hint of sweetness that complimented each slider creation. One was a traditional cheeseburger with American cheese, pickle, fresh tomato and a few shreds of lettuce. Another slider had Jarlsberg swiss and a tasty homemade slaw. The last one was off the charts. It was topped with Humboldt Fog goat cheese that had a layer of volcanic ash running through it, caramelized onion and applewood smoked bacon. Hats off to the chef. Awesome creations.
I give the B.Y.O. Burger at Bleu 4 out of 5 stars. I’d really loved the burger and the choice of toppings I constructed. Unfortunately the Kaiser roll was too thick for the burger and ended up masking all those great flavors going on. I’m intrigued by the grilled cheese bun and look forward to my next meal at Bleu.
Bleu Restaurant & Lounge
221 South 3rd Street
Memphis, TN 38103
If you have a favorite burger that you think is Memphis’ best or that I need to try and review, please drop a note in my suggestion box.