Alas, once we entered the Macy's sixth floor space (reachable after store hours via a dedicated elevator) -- despite its Keller pedigree, the infamous $60 foie-gras- and truffle-slathered Rossini, its extensive beer and abbreviated wine list -- it was eminently clear that this is, after all, a chain restaurant, with all that that implies: beer-sign décor, annoying techno, mini TVs in the booths, T-shirts and mugs for sale, and indifferent service.The rather overwhelming, eight-page oversize menu offers a choice of four basic meats (Black Angus, $9.75; sustainably farmed Country Natural, $10.50; and American Kobe beef and buffalo, both $16.50) and four non-meat patties (veggie, salmon, and turkey, all $8.50; and chicken breast, $9.25), served in six different buns, with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and dill pickles.
Special orders not only don't upset Burger Bar, the kitchen apparently craves them. There's a list of more than 50 add-ons for customizing your burger, ranging from the expected (cheeses and bacons) to the less so (asparagus, pineapple, and pesto) to the downright unexpected (black Perigord truffle sauce, grilled half-lobster, and black truffles -- the latter a whopping $30).
If you aren't up to creating your own, a list of Chef's Burgers features, in addition to the Rossini, the Hubert Keller (buffalo, caramelized onions, baby spinach, and blue cheese, $22) and the Surf & Turf (Black Angus, grilled lobster, and asparagus, $24.50).
We tried the trio of sliders ($12.75), a relative bargain: buffalo with caramelized onions, Black Angus with bacon, Country Natural with American cheese, served with fries. And, what the hell, a milkshake, the Caramel Latte ($8.75). (Vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry are $7; alcoholic milkshakes $10.75; beer floats, $10.50, or five small ones, called the Burger Bar Beer Float Paddle, $18). The sliders were cute and quite edible; we'd return for full-size versions. But the milkshake (coffee ice cream, caramel syrup, and whipped cream topped with graham crackers and butterscotch morsels) was a too-sweet horror.
After shelling out more than $20 for sliders and a shake, this is what we liked best about Burger Bar: the fabulous view over Union Square. And the fact that it stays open until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. We took most of the shake to go, and gave it to a homeless guy on Powell. We considered sharing that it'd cost $8.75, but decided against it. We feared he might fling it back in our face.
Burger Bar Union Square Macy's Sixth Floor, 170 O'Farrell (at Geary), 296-4272. Sun-Thu, 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri-Sat, 10:30 a.m.-2 a.m.