Friday, August 19, 2022

Taste of the Month: Burger and a (Loaded) Shake?

When it comes to gourmet burgers and shakes in Happy Valley, BRGR offers a menu and atmosphere unlike any other.

BRGR is located at 122 W. College Ave., the former Citizens Bank building. According to manager Dan Geiger, the location housed the first-ever bank in State College. First National Bank of State College had operated out of a room in the postmistress’s house from 1907 until moving in 1911 into the brand-new 122 W. College Ave. building.

“We’re the first restaurant to take over the building,” Geiger says. Since the location was a bank for many, many years, he says BRGR has tried to incorporate some of the banking items into the decor.

BRGR’s design brings in features of the old bank, including safe deposit boxes below the bar. (Photo by David Silber)

“When you come in, you’ll have the opportunity to dine inside one of the bank’s vaults. We still have the two-ton steel door in place. You can go inside, and there’s a couple of tables inside there,” Geiger says.

But, wait, there’s more!

“We have the real keys from every deposit box and they hang above the bar on these little chains. … it looks really cool. Below the bar are the brass-plated deposit boxes. We wanted to maintain the bank atmosphere for sure,” Geiger says.

Of course, the foundation of BRGR isn’t the atmosphere of the former bank. BRGR started in Pittsburgh with the premise of serving gourmet burgers—and the menu does not disappoint.

There are several “classic” burgers on the menu, and they all have catchy names. There’s the “Average Joe,” “Fire in the Hole,” the “Button Buster,” “Shrooms,” “Cease and Desist,” “Smokehouse Bison,” and the “Not So Impossible Patty.” There are also several “signature” burgers on the menu, including “The BRGR,” the “King Salmon,” the “Santa Fe Hippie,” “California Lovin,” and the “Steakhouse.”

However, Geiger says that while the “classic” and “signature” burgers are extremely popular, there’s one burger that gets more attention than the rest.

“Our most popular item is the ‘craft your own’ burger. That’s really what it’s all about—letting people pick whatever they want. The choices just go on and on,” Geiger says.

When crafting your own burger, diners start by choosing the type of meat (from dry-aged beef to ahi tuna) and bread (or you can just go naked). After that, it’s toppings (from caramelized onions to peanut butter), cheese, and sauces. If you can dream it, chances are that BRGR can build it.

Another feature of BRGR is their famous milkshakes. There are the “classic” milkshakes, of course. Among those are s’mores, cookies and cream, salty caramel, chocolate, peanut butter cup, and vanilla. However, the “spiked” milkshakes are extremely popular, Geiger says.

“We’re trying to dress up the milkshake, make it a little more appealing to the adult crowd,” he says. “We’re putting in good liquor. Every spiked shake gets a shot and a half of a different liquor, depending on which shake you get.”

There are four choices on the menu for spiked shakes. The peanut butter cup spiked shake features chocolate vodka, peanut butter, chocolate chips, peanut butter cup, and chocolate ice cream. The cookies and cream includes vanilla vodka, cookie crumbles, and vanilla ice cream. The s’mores offers marshmallow vodka and vanilla and dark chocolate ice cream. Finally, the salted caramel shake features bourbon, caramel sauce, sea salt, and vanilla ice cream.

According to Geiger, the “Davy Crockett Spiked Caramel Whiskey Shake” will be making a comeback during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts this month. If this shake takes off, it will probably be back for the upcoming Penn State football season.

“It has a caramel whiskey in it and it’s very good,” Geiger says.

In addition to burgers and shakes, BRGR offers a host of appetizers.

“We like to say that our fried appetizers are the way to go. We know what we’re doing. We’re in a college town and we appeal to thousands of people on Penn State gamedays,” Geiger says.

Wings are a big seller at BRGR.

“All of our sauces are made in house,” Geiger says. “We have a spicy buffalo sauce, which is our Pittsburgh recipe carried over.”

Another big seller are the “chacos,” which are a twist on traditional nachos.

“It’s a Pittsburgh take on nachos. It’s a potato chip base with shredded chicken, cheese, and fresh-made pico de gallo. It’s a great looking, great tasting dish,” Geiger says.

BRGR has approximately 15 televisions throughout the restaurant. Geiger hopes that Penn State football fans will continue to come in before, during, and after games this fall.

“No matter how busy it is, we want you to be comfortable and be able to enjoy a delicious meal,” he says. “No matter where you are sitting, you will have a great view of whatever game you want.” T&G

Chris Morelli is a resident of Pleasant Gap and the news editor of The Express in Lock Haven.