Michael Mina’s Bourbon Burger Bar attempts to raise the level of delivery-only dining

While the world of online dining has become crowded with ghost kitchens serving burgers and crispy chicken, at least one celebrity chef is trying to elevate the delivery-only experience.

Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak in Glendale, the Michelin-starred chef’s steakhouse that offers high-end cuts of prime beef and Wagyu on its regular menu, has gotten into the burger delivery business, but the product is a more upscale than what you’ll typically find surfing food delivery apps.

His virtual concept, Bourbon Burger Bar, serves burgers with aged beef, artisan cheeses, exotic spices and toppings such as black truffles. They come with fries cooked in duck fat.

“It’s the experience of eating a high-end burger in the comfort of your own home,” said Dennis Bernardo, executive chef at the steakhouse.

Bourbon Burger Bar is one of two virtual concepts in his kitchen attempting to raise the level of delivery-only food. The other one is Tokyo Hot Chicken.

Virtual concepts, also called virtual kitchens, cloud kitchens or ghost kitchens, aren’t set up for on-site dining. Customers place their orders online and third-party delivery services pick up the food and take it to their homes.

Many ghost kitchens were born of necessity during the novel coronavirus pandemic as a way of keeping restaurants going.

But an article in trade website Restaurant Business suggests that more chef-driven virtual brands are entering the market as a way of testing out creative ideas.

Bourbon Burger Bar launched late last year as a way of serving customers during the dining room closures, according to Bernardo. But he said it also gave customers a taste of something they were missing.

“When we opened Burger Bar, it offered something more luxurious, and for a lot of people who weren’t able to enjoy the dining experience of a restaurant this is a change in offering. From ingredients to packaging, it made ordering a burger online more special.”

The burgers were selected off the menus of Mina’s restaurants, according to Bernardo, and include options such Prime Dry Aged Steak Burger; Applewood Smoked Bacon Burger; Black Truffle Steak Burger; Roasted Veggie Burger; Heritage; Turkey Burger; and BBQ Organic Salmon Burger.

Ordered individually, the burgers are priced $19.95-$25.95, but there’s a $39.95 package (currently on sale for $34.95 during National Burger Month) that includes a burger (from a menu of three) served with fries cooked in duck fat, choice of salad, and choice of dessert.

The concepts are also available from Mina’s restaurants in San Diego and San Francisco but not Bourbon Steak in Dana Point.

Bernardo said that since dining rooms have reopened, business for the virtual concepts has dropped off a little early in the week but is holding steady on weekends, with many repeat customers.

Bourbon Bar

Where: 237 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale

Bourbon Burger Bar: michaelmina.net/restaurants/bourbon-burger-bar-locations

Tokyo Hot Chicken: michaelmina.net/restaurants/tokyo-hot-chicken-locations/

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