Did you know there are websites out there that let you generate menus with the push of a button? They'll give you a two-word, "original" name for your crafty concept (The Putnam, perhaps?) and auto-graft a series of gastro-pub-sounding dishes for your make-believe restaurant, things like "market fresh eggplant skewers with farfalle pork belly," "farm-to-table house-made kraut," or "fermented oysters with quickened rice." The prices are even spot-on: $25 for a "late summer orecchiette and monkfish pate."
Of course, this is all in jest — a way to poke fun at the seriousness of chef-driven and farm-to-table concepts. But the first time you see one of these silly mock menus, you might actually go with it. Such is the way of the food world now.
True creativity can't be manufactured, of course, but hearing the outlandish menu items — like deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cereal milk milkshakes — at 1-month-old Brgr Stop in Coconut Creek and you might start wondering just who came up with these things.
Instead of a fancy algorithm, the man behind this menu is South Florida native Michael Buchinski, a self-made restaurateur with a background in the nightclub industry — who also just so happens to be a pretty talented chef.
Just six months ago, if you told Buchinski he'd own the hip new burger joint next door to his 14-year-old pizzeria, Bella Roma, he might have laughed. The idea to bring a burger restaurant to the shopping plaza — located out west on Coconut Creek Parkway — was originally conceived by someone else, a man who quietly abandoned the project after giving it little more than a name.
Buchinski saw potential, however, and partnered with his landlord, Mark Haig, to bring the concept to life. All it took was three months, a lot of elbow grease, and a supersized imagination. Buchinski says he did most of the work at Brgr Stop himself, from handcrafting the twelve-seat communal table and designing the custom-built interior to imagining the menu. The interior reflects his inner food geek, complete with giant industrial signage and a 55-foot graffiti wall commissioned by a pair of West Palm Beach-based artists. With its fry, shake, and burger caricatures, it's almost as colorful as the Brgr Stop menu. Almost.
"I wanted this place to be fun," says Buchinski. "I really got in touch with my creative side for this one. My goal was to make everything on the menu something you'd want to order, something you'd want to come back to try."
As a result, almost everything on Brgr Stop's menu is like a challenge straight out of the Food Network's Man vs. Food. Some are things you'd find at the fair; others are foods you'd eat on a dare, or when maybe you've got a bad case of the munchies.
In a world of food trends driven by healthy eating, special meal plans, and dietary restrictions, Brgr Stop goes the opposite direction. You can start your night with buckets of candied bacon or a tower of onion rings; the restaurant's signature craft burgers are loaded with things like macaroni and cheese or a slathering of peanut butter; and milkshakes are made with a combination of cereal-soaked milk and ice cream.
It all starts with the appetizers, several of which sound as though they could send you into cardiac arrest. The healthiest of the bunch is Buchinski's homemade BBQ Pork and Bacon Potato Skins, a tribute to his favorite game-time snack. But it's the White Truffle Mackin Cheese Balls that will probably catch your eye.
They sound like they could amount to a day's worth of cardio, and they probably do — a creamy, sausage-studded mac 'n' cheese chilled and rolled into a ball the size of your fist before each are encased in a thin layer of panko breading and deep-fried. Bite into one and the interior begins a slow ooze from its shell, a landslide of melty cheese and pasta.
Calorie-heavy selections continue with giant artisan cheese melts, a trio of Kobe hot dogs, beer-marinated chicken wings, and oversized sandwiches. That includes Brgr Stop's most outrageous creation, the deep-fried PB&J, a sandwich so perfectly ridiculous that it manages to upstage the restaurant's namesake burgers thanks to its stoner-inspired construction.
The kitchen begins with thick-sliced brioche — because why not use a butter-based bread for this deep-friend behemoth? Next, potato chip sticks, which lend a salty, crunchy note to the rich, gooey combo. Then, before serving, the whole creation is given a cream-soda-tempura batter (is that even a thing?) and deep-fried for several minutes, giving the brioche a smooth, grease-oozing crust that gives way to a molten peanut butter and warm jelly-coated potato-chip center.
Last, the sandwich — like some breakfast food that somehow makes sense for both lunch and dinner — is topped with a sprinkling of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. Just in case you were thinking, "The only thing that would make this sandwich better is some cinnamon and sugar."
Way down in the bottom corner of the menu, you'll find soups and salads. Just three, they seem almost like an afterthought, an addition for anyone you can label a picky eater. Most will overlook this space in their search for the most decadent, far-out find, which — outside all the fried stuff — would be the burgers.
If you're Buchinski, the bigger the burger, the better. Like with so many places, here it's all about the blend. Every burger joint has its own custom one, and Brgr Stop is no different, a precise ratio of short rib, brisket, and chuck. It's nothing ground-breaking, but it's theirs; Buchinski says he went through more than 50 variations before deciding on the final recipe, cooked on an open grill flame for maximum flavor.
There are eight craft burgers in all, each oversized and amped up with a hodgepodge of ingredients. Some are espresso or jerk-rubbed. Another is your favorite bowl of soup — French onion — re-created in sandwich form. They're best paired with any one of the six craft beers on tap, or the 50 or so more by the bottle housed in a glass case behind the restaurant's short counter bar space.
You'll need one to wash down the Mac Daddy, which arrives a teetering construction, crowned with a heaping portion of jalapeño-cheddar-sausage-flecked mac 'n' cheese, long strips of house-made candied bacon, and a root-beer sriracha barbecue sauce. Peanut Butter Jelly Time takes the burger back to basics with more bacon and a thick layer of Skippy spread across the bottom bun. It's paired not with jam or jelly but rather a complex San Marzano tomato confit Buchinski said he spent weeks perfecting.
In a market saturated with craft burger joints, it seems almost ludicrous no one's thought to add something as simple as an ice-cream milkshake to the mix. The simply-named cereal milk is Buchinski's signature creation: cereal-flavored milk so intense that it perfectly re-creates the milk left at the bottom of your morning breakfast bowl, selections that are brand-name-inspired, ranging from punishingly sweet Fruity Pebbles to the mellow marshmallow-toasty allure of Lucky Charms.
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That might sound amazing if you are the type to slurp up the last of that thick, sweet puddle from your breakfast bowl. Apparently, there are quite a few of you out there. In his first week of business, Buchinski says he sold more than 1,000 cereal milks, what has become his most popular menu item. As simple as it sounds, the menu-maker could have never come up with one of those.
"We've created something people are driving from all over — as far north as Boynton Beach and as far south as Miami — to experience," says Buchinski. "The best part is that our return customers always try something new. Mission accomplished."
4301 Coconut Creek Parkway, Coconut Creek. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from noon to 11 p.m. Call 954-975-8459, or visit brgrstop.com.
White Truffle Mackin Cheese Balls, $9.95
BBQ Pork and Bacon Potato Skins, $8.95
Mac Daddy burger, $11.95
Peanut Butter Jelly Time burger, $10.95
Fried PB&J, $7.95
- Cereal milk, $6.95