New Zealand-inspired gastropub opens in Stonefield and more local restaurant news

Burger Bach sources all of its grass-fed lamb and beef for its burgers from New Zealand. Managing director Justin Owens says his favorite burgers on the menu include the Queenstown, East Coast and Aucklander. Photo: Amy Jackson Burger Bach sources all of its grass-fed lamb and beef for its burgers from New Zealand. Managing director Justin Owens says his favorite burgers on the menu include the Queenstown, East Coast and Aucklander. Photo: Amy Jackson

In regards to today’s food culture obsession with eating local, Burger Bach reps say there’s a good reason they source their grass-fed beef and lamb from halfway around the world. The late founder of Burger Bach and Richmond restaurateur Michael Ripp had been traveling back and forth from New Zealand to visit his children, and he noted the high quality of bar food abroad. He couldn’t find what he wanted locally, so he launched the first Burger Bach (pronounced “batch,” New Zealand for “vacation house”) in Carytown in February 2012.

All Burger Bach locations—The Shops at Stonefield spot in the former PastureQ space makes the fourth—source their beef and lamb from the same farm in New Zealand so they can control the quality of the meat they serve, says Burger Bach Virginia director Brett Diehl. Diehl says the USDA allows grain-finished beef to be labeled grass-fed, but because grass grows year-round Down Under, they know their product will be the same each time. Every location grinds meat for patties each morning, and the beef and lamb burgers are 90 percent lean. He says the beef and lamb from New Zealand are “the best in the world,” and likens the flavor to tasting a pinot noir from France versus California—the climate and conditions in which the animals are raised make a difference in taste.

The Charlottesville location offers 12 different burger options (including Diehl’s favorite, the Hangover Cure, with green chile sauce, bacon, Bach-made hot sauce, a fried egg, American cheese, tomato, caramelized onions and mayo made with free-range eggs), as well as free-range chicken and veggie burgers. Each burger is served with a side salad that is a testament to Burger Bach’s commitment to making as much as they can in-house, Diehl says: The thyme for the herb vinaigrette is hand-picked when they make the dressing every other day.

Other menu highlights include fresh-cut fries, which come with 14 kinds of Bach-made dipping sauces, as well as seafood options, such as mussels, oysters and their most popular seafood dish, spicy shrimp made with chipotle and jalapeno peppers. In addition, each location offers a unique craft cocktail menu and local beers—20 of the 30 taps at The Shops at Stonefield location are from Virginia breweries.

The Charlottesville location officially opened August 1, and managing director Justin Owens says the first week saw both new and repeat customers—one gentleman dined there three out of four nights, and a couple who often eats at the Short Pump location drove to Charlottesville on back-to-back nights.

Diehl says Burger Bach’s No. 1 priority is the guest experience.

“I tell a lot of people the best burger you’ve ever had in your life is on our menu,” he says. “You may not know it yet and you may not order it the first time, but if you don’t leave here thinking that was the best burger you’ve ever had, order something else the next time.”

Burger Bach has a limited menu during its first two weeks (menu items in red are not currently available), but will offer a full menu once they start serving lunch, likely by August 15. In addition to lunch, the restaurant will offer happy-hour specials on food and drink, including tap takeovers.

Victory for all

The Alley Light’s master mixologist Micah LeMon has created a cocktail inspired by Victory Hall Opera’s season-opener, Der Rosenkavalier (read about the opera’s Charlottesville connection on p. 29), which will be featured at the restaurant’s bar through the end of the month. The Silver Rose, $11, is a “floral riff on a classic gin fizz with cream,” and $2 from every drink will go directly toward the opera production.

Savoring the success

When Simon Davidson, creator of Char-lottesville 29 and a C-VILLE Weekly columnist, first had the idea of holding dining experience auctions to raise money for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, his goal was $29,000. He contacted each owner of what he considers to be the 29 best restaurants in C’ville, and asked them if they would participate. They all stepped up—led by the example of Angelo Vangelopoulos, co-owner of the Ivy Inn and one of the first to respond, who offered a pop-up Greek taverna experience for 20. Coincidentally, that auction raised the most money of all the auctions—$8,100. In total, the auctions, underwritten by McGuireWoods LLP, raised $79,730 for the food bank, which equals more than 315,000 meals for the hungry.