When it opened in April, Bumsteers garnered local buzz for its sleek rooftop bar, an impressive spot in the Perkins Road overpass area to meet for drinks and play a game of foosball or extra large Jenga.
The building that now houses the new restaurant was originally a midcentury gas station. Over the years, it was a Kean's dry cleaners and most recently a Crispy Catch. Bumsteers added the rooftop space and expanded the north side of the restaurant with a shipping container to create a modern industrial look.
Bumsteers' menu features plenty of beef in its varied offerings, which includes specialty burgers — like a Graceland burger with caramelized bananas and crunchy peanut butter — along with sandwiches, tacos and salads.
On my first trip to Bumsteers, I was immediately drawn to one of those beef items: the brisket street tacos ($12), hunks of smoked brisket on a white corn tortilla covered with fried onion straws, green chile con queso and fresh slices of jalapeêo.
Inside the taco, the brisket was tender and full of the fatty, savory flavor I hope for when ordering this cut of meat. But the chile con queso, fried onions and the fatty meat combined for a dull, heavy feeling. I think the excellent brisket would be better paired with lighter touches of avocado or salsa verde.
On the side, Bumsteers updated the reliable rice and beans with Mexican risotto and charro beans. Although a bit too sticky, the spices and texture of the risotto brought to mind Spanish paella, and the charro beans tasted like they had been simmered all day to perfection.
For my second visit, a friend and I started with the tuna wonton appetizer, crisp wontons covered with cubes of sushi-grade tuna, soy sauce and Asian aioli, a creamy, tangy sauce. Bumsteers' menu is filled with appealing appetizers — brisket sliders and nachos and smoked wings — but this successful dish caught our attention immediately.
My friend chose the classic burger ($9, with a $1 cheese upcharge) topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and a special sauce. It appeared to be an elevated version of a McDonald’s Big Mac, right down to the sesame seed bun and the perfectly round, shaped-by-machine patty. It was good — of course, much better than a Big Mac — but there are several burgers within a five-minute drive that offer more for $10.
Scanning the menu, the banh mi burger ($9) grabbed my attention. Based on the Vietnamese sandwich, the Bumsteers take on the banh mi uses baguette bread, a spicy pork patty, pickled carrots and radishes, cucumbers, jalapeños and the tangy Asian aioli. It was a let down: The bread was far too tough to chew, and the pork patty was dry.
For my side, I chose the Fancy Fries ($5), which came tossed in truffle oil and Parmesan cheese and roasted garlic. The fries were fine, but again, these weren't quite on the level of several nearby options.
Bumsteers is building a reputation for its bar and social scene, and it’s sure to thrive, especially on cool fall afternoons or during evening football games. With its modern design and rooftop area, it adds another dining destination to the growing overpass area.
But the food menu seems cobbled together from different international flavors without a guiding principle. Many items suffer from the “more is more” mentality, where extra ingredients are added to a dish rather than focusing on the quality at the core.
It’s all fine. Yet the food is held back from being memorable.
Bumsteers Eats & Drinks
3109 Perkins Road
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. until late Friday and Saturday
(225) 308-1281; bumsteersbr.com
Pros: Tuna wontons; excellent brisket; rooftop scene
Cons: Execution of entrees; dull flavor combinations