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Bingo Burger serves winning American fast food

SC 08/09/2021


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Guy Gamzo, the talent behind upscale restaurant Aria (reviewed many times on these pages over the years), was one of Israel’s first fine dining chefs to jump on the bandwagon of opening a casual eatery – the kind of place that would serve decent but not elaborate food, and turn a profit without the exorbitant overheads of a fancy restaurant. In 2018, Gamzo launched NuNuNu (see The Jerusalem Post review of September 26, 2018) and its signature milk bun sandwiches have been a tremendous hit ever since. 
Seeking to build on his previous success (and perhaps inspired by the runaway popularity of culinary colleague Omer Miller’s Susu & Sons chain of burger joints) Chef Gamzo has now entered the fray again – with Bingo Burger, a fast-food counter operation on Gordon Beach, where the boardwalk runs along beach volleyball courts. (A word to the wise on finding the place: ignore the official address on Hayarkon Street, and descend to the beach from Kikar Atarim). 
The name of the place might be Bingo Burger, but the hamburger as we know it is not the operation’s claim to fame. While the brightly lit Hebrew and English menus indeed lead off with a section called Burgers (NIS 34-44), only one – the Classic Bingo – is a traditional beef patty; the other three sandwiches are Crispy Chicken, Fish Burger and Vegan. All four options are also available as Combo Meals (NIS 55-64), with the addition of a side dish and soft drink.

With its sole hamburger, Bingo is not claiming to be among the best burgers in town; it is content to remain unabashedly in the realm of fast food: thin, 100-gram patties – albeit ground from brisket – served with lettuce, pickled purple onion and the house special sauce on a standard, soft white bun. You can add optional cheese and an extra patty, and – together with a side of mixed French fries and sweet potato fries – it makes a quick, filling snack that anyone who is content with McDonald’s fare will enjoy. 
Still, a better choice is the Crispy Chicken – Tennessee-style breaded and fried white-meat chicken with purple coleslaw and chipotle mayonnaise on a bun. The thick chicken breast with crispy coating is quite tasty coated in its Southern blend of seasonings, along with the extra kick provided by the chipotle mayo. Sadly, the soggy purple coleslaw lacks the crunch and zest that would make it worthy as a side dish on its own, but in the sandwich, it works quite well as a condiment that adds needed moistness (the less said about the disappointing side of onion rings the better.)

 Bingo Burger (credit: JONATHAN BEN HAIM) Bingo Burger (credit: JONATHAN BEN HAIM)

The experience with the chicken would ordinarily have encouraged us to try the oversized, cornflake-coated nuggets, if it were not for the other American dishes we wished to try from the second food menu section, Sharing is Caring (18-26). First were the wings, which were served comme il faut, with celery sticks and a small container of ranch dressing. The fried wings were coated in just enough savory sauce to make them practically addictive; anyone needing a little additional heat can dip into extra chipotle mayo.
Another pleasant surprise involving chicken was the Caesar Salad, listed under the Side Dishes (NIS 16-34). This was admittedly not restaurant-grade Caesar, with croutons, romaine hearts and anchovy-infused dressing; nevertheless, it was a reasonably sized portion of greens and slivers of purple onion, topped with a generous amount of plump morsels of chicken breast. Overall, the salad represented quite good value, and is a refreshing change from the surfeit of what is often classified as junk food. 
Regrettably, the fried pickles listed on the menu were not available, but a different quintessential American dish was: Mac and Cheese. The dish certainly looked like the gooey, cheesy Kraft version of the classic comfort food, and it started out well, too. But soon enough, a disagreeable aftertaste of excess butter or oil kicked in. It is quite possible that this was a one-time preparation glitch that can easily be remedied. (In fact, when I took some home and added a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, the problem was solved.)
We were looking forward to washing our food down with that all-time American favorite drink, a root beer float, which I have seen on no other menu in Israel. Alas, however, this was not available either, as the soft-serve ice cream machine was broken, thus ruling out the lone milkshake as well. 
We were willing to settle for just a glass of plain, cold root beer, but this, too, was non-existent. Instead, we settled for the one beer on the menu: Estrella on tap, which is not a bad alternative on a muggy summer’s eve. (There are three cocktails on the menu, but no wine).
No desserts appear on the menu, but the manager informed us that when the ice cream machine is working, they serve a vanilla cone with sweet toppings. 
Bingo Burgers 
Not kosher
145 Hayarkon St., Tel Aviv
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

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Co-Host for Coffee Mouth Scarecrow Show. Retired NAVY Chief/Flag Writer Psalms 118:24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

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