Bringing Gourmet Kosher Burgers To Brooklyn | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Bringing Gourmet Kosher Burgers To Brooklyn

Bringing Gourmet Kosher Burgers To Brooklyn

Boeuf & Bun is close to both Lubavitch headquarters and Crown Height's chic brownstone quarters.

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At the end of February, after months of heady anticipation by hungry locals, Boeuf & Bun, an artisanal burger bar, quietly opened on Kingston Avenue north of Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights. Things didn’t stay quiet for long, though — within days, the restaurant was packed to the gills nightly, with those seeking a table often spilling over into the street in front of the space. Brooklyn officially has a new “it” restaurant.

In the ultra-trendy borough, a hot new restaurant isn’t anything new or revolutionary — they seem to open (and close) every week. But the Crown Heights burger joint is a bit different than most. Conceived, owned and operated by Tzemach Woolstone, an observant Jew, the menu is 100 percent kosher. Just a stone’s throw from Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway and directly across the street from Basil, a popular kosher pizza and wine bar, Boeuf & Bun is ideally positioned for the kosher-keeping set.

New York is teeming with kosher restaurants, but their menus tend to play it safe, serving up food that can often be tasty but is rarely imaginative. Tzemach Woolstone, Boeuf & Bun’s owner and head chef, sought to fill that gaping hole in the new marketplace with his new venture.

“A lot of the kosher places, they just do the basics — sometimes very well, but still just the basics. They don’t go further to develop flavors, and that’s what we’re doing here,” Woolstone said of the restaurant. “Really, you’d have to travel to Manhattan for the closest competition.”

The only other kosher burger joint in the city is that borough’s Amsterdam Burger Company, open since 2013 on the Upper West Side. The menu there is commendably adventurous, featuring a burger topped with guacamole and one crowned with a runny fried egg, but for many Brooklynites it’s just too far of a trek for a weeknight evening. That’s where Boeuf & Bun comes in.

“Crown Heights was ripe for getting a great, sit-down, casual-chic restaurant,” Woolstone said. “And the area’s not yet saturated. Really, it was my only choice when it came down to it.”

At just 24-years-old, Woolstone has already built himself an impressive resume. After graduating from Baruch College’s Zicklin School of business with an MBA, he went straight to work developing the concept behind Boeuf & Bun. An avid home cook — but one without any professional restaurant experience — Woolstone developed each of the menu items, testing everything extensively.

Today, he said, his flavorful approach to cooking shines through in Boeuf & Bun’s oversized, creative burgers, such as the “New Yorker,” a large patty topped with tender house-cured pastrami and crisp coleslaw, and the “Down South,” which is topped with BBQ pulled beef and fried pickles.

“I’m using flavors that people may not have tried before, chipotle, jalapeño, strong tastes, spicy tastes,” Woolstone said. “When we first opened, many people would say to me, ‘I don’t really want that on a burger.’ Then they try it, and they’re hooked.”

With a millennial helming the restaurant, it’s no surprise that Boeuf & Bun’s huge nightly crowd is primarily made up of the 18-to-35 set. Woolstone’s tuned into the quality that this age group takes as a given these days, paying top-dollar for the best ingredients he can afford, and making nearly everything in-house fresh every day. He buys whole-muscle beef and grinds it fresh several times a day, prepares all the sauces, and works with a local kosher bakery to develop the restaurant’s shiny, sesame-seed topped buns.

Boeuf & Bun has a full beer and wine list, offering brews such as Brooklyn Lager and Harpoon IPA, and bottles such as Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon. And then there’s the restaurant space itself: light, airy and attractive, with dark-and-light wood paneling and bright blue tables and chairs.

“Eating here is a full-on experience,” Woolstone said. “We’ve created something that just doesn’t exist elsewhere, and our customers are really starting to appreciate that.”

Boeuf & Bun

Open Monday-Thursday, 12 pm-11 pm

217 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11213


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