Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bucu Burger Bar and Bakery

Burgers AND a bakery?  Bucu stands for Burgers and Cupcakes. What??? An interesting establishment has popped up in Paramus offering burgers and house-made cupcakes.  Where two of my favorite foods are involved, I knew I would have to investigate.

Started by Rick Ross and his wife, Kathy, they got the idea for Bucu as a compilation of everything people like: burgers and shakes, cupcakes, ice cream. They have not cut corners on any of the ingredients. The meat supplied by Pat LaFrieda (you’ve heard of celebrity chefs, LaFrieda is a celebrity butcher), is a special formulation made just for Bucu. The burgers are on the smaller side, as compared to the burger towers you might get at other joints, and while the meat had a nice texture, it was overdone for my taste. The people manning the counter do not ask how you’d like your burger cooked and when I spoke to Ross later, he assured me that you can get a burger cooked to order. Next time, I’ll be ordering up a rare, juicy burger-cheese combo.

The tidy menu offers 5-6 “composed” burgers and the option to “build-a-burger.”  Some of the composed options include the “Jersey Burger” (applewood smoked bacon, blue & cheddar cheeses, topped with grilled onions), the “SB 48 Burger” (cheeseburger piled high with hand-cut fries and chili), and the “Pig Out Burger.”  We sampled this last burger because we thought it was actually a pulled pork sandwich, but it’s really a burger topped with pulled pork, Jalapeno Jack cheese, and horseradish coleslaw.

We loved the Haystack Onions – thinly sliced and so crispy with not a trace of grease. The Hand-cut Fries were nicely salted and seasoned.

Bucu also offers chicken wings, hot dogs, salads, and a few sandwich choices.  We didn’t sample any of these because, really, we came for the burgers.  Oh, and maybe, a cupcake.

Kathy is the head baker and creator of all the cupcake and cookie recipes.  She uses only Callebaut chocolate and rotates the selection of cupcakes daily, ranging from carrot to red velvet and everything in between.  I forced myself to try the Pistachio and Coconut.  Both had a really nice crumb and creamy frosting.

They’ve come up with an interesting twist using their cupcakes and ice cream – it’s called a “Cupcake Shake.”  Take a cupcake, add ice cream, whir it in the blender, and voila – a cupcake shake!  The owners said the Red Velvet Cupcake Shake has been flying out the door. 

Speaking of ice cream, they get their ice cream delivered weekly from “Max & Mina’s” in Flushing.  Known for inventive, bold flavors, Max & Mina’s offerings the day I visited were Dark Chocolate, Madagascar Vanilla, and Cookie Monster.  Just as you might imagine, Cookie Monster ice cream is blue and studded with Oreos, chocolate chips, and graham crackers.  It was really good!  But being the vanilla snob that I am, I turned all of my attention there.  And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Rich, creamy, and full of intense vanilla-bourbon flavor – I emptied the cup in no time flat.

Open only a little over two months now, the restaurant is humming along. Prices are reasonable and decorated in warm earth tones; Bucu sets itself apart from traditional fast food operations. Even though you order at the counter, your meal is delivered to the table when ready.  All the food is made from scratch, and all the confections made daily in-house. The owners are on-site and hands-on.

When I asked Rick how he came up with the name (after all, it is a little unusual), he said he toyed with other, more traditional, names but thought Bucu would grab attention and draw people in. That it will, and the food will keep them coming back.

65 Rt 4 West
Paramus, NJ
Open 7 days, 11am-10pm

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