At the corner of Prince and Santa Fe, (just south of Belleview) there’s a little restaurant area that houses a Lamar’s Donuts, Dickey’s BBQ, Panda Express, Subway, Il Vicino Pizza, and the newest gourmet burger bar in Littleton, Relish It. I’m not sure they have a website yet, but here’s their Urbanspoon page. Living within 5 minutes of this place, I’ve been meaning to give it a try and finally made it over there with my burger buddy Jeff.
Relish It heavily promotes their 100% grass-fed beef from a supplier called Our Pastures. There seems to be a rancher in Colorado that supplies this beef to Relish It, among other restaurants in the area. But the owner of Relish It claims he’s got the only 100% grass-fed burger in Denver. Needless to say, what Relish It gets right is a commitment to quality, and that becomes apparent if you get a chance to talk to the owner, Terry.
While the burgers come pre-ground, they are hand-pattied in house right next to where they hand cut their own thick fries. The patty construction is a good one…medium grind, loosely packed. However, that’s where the positives of this patty end. Perhaps most shockingly, no one at the restaurant could tell us what blend of beef they were using (even the owner)! Unfortunately for a burger bar that places so much emphasis on their beef, the negatives dramatically outweigh the positives. Our burgers were well-done (but ordered mid-rare), sparsely salted, and overpowered by toppings and bun. A 1/3 lb. patty is just not the right ratio for the Aunt Hattie’s sesame buns that they use. The buns were soft, held up well against the burger and toppings, but a gourmet burger bar that uses buns from Costco? A little odd, and generally unimpressive.
Their special 1000 Island spread is tangy and good, and their sliced dill pickles were outstanding. I imagine they use their tasty dill pickles in their spread, which is great. Toppings are numerous, so you can build all kinds of burgers here. We kept it simple with American cheese and grilled onion, but the menu is vast. In fact, in the next few weeks it’s expanding even more…which is, in my opinion, a move in the wrong direction. At Relish It, you can get salads…italian beef sandwiches…brats…marinara sauce…turkey burgers…veggie burgers…funnel cakes…sloppy joes…and soon, you’ll be able to get sliders, angus steak burgers, etc, etc. Now I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like a “burger bar”, that sounds like your regular old American cafe fare. And here’s where I think Relish It loses it’s way. They’ve spread themselves too thin, and didn’t even pull off a regular burger with American cheese. Overall, I was dissatisfied. As I’ve mentioned several times on this blog: find ONE thing, and RULE at it. Don’t fill up your menu with a bunch of other crap. If you’re gonna be a burger joint, then be a burger joint! Moreover, specialize in one burger…my fear is that Relish It will begin offering 6 different types of burgers and meat, and not excel in any of them. In fact, I’m betting on it.
This is a lot of restaurant philosophy, so let me get back to the burger. While this might sound insulting considering the higher quality ingredients that Relish It uses, I was reminded of a Wendy’s cheeseburger. Could I stomach it? Or course! But is this a top-notch burger bar? Definitely not.
While Relish It (and it’s friendly owner Terry) are to be commended for their high values on quality and healthier beef, I just can’t in good conscience recommend Relish It. An overcooked, under salted patty slapped on a bun that’s too large and store-bought…grass fed beef that doesn’t at all stand out from the crowd (fat content is 85/15, maybe 90/10, which is just not fatty enough for a real burger)…and a menu that by including too many options has by it’s very nature distracted from a pure burger experience — all of these things add up to a burger joint that just won’t stand the test of time.
Relish It – you are young enough to do it right! Pick one burger style…one type of meat…get rid of the rest of your menu…and master that burger. MASTER IT. If you do that, I’ll be back.