Review #27: Hayes Barton Café and Dessertery (Raleigh, NC)
(HBCD has one style of burger: “The Bogey Burger,” a cooked-to-order, name-your-toppings offering in the Classic Rocks category.)
I am not much of a cheesecake guy, but Hayes Barton is making me rethink that. Great pumpkin cheesecake pie. This is good. Pumpkin pie taste combined with that smooth, rich cheesecake consistency. Wow.
Oh yes—the burger? Right. Okay. I’ll get to that.
Mmm…lemon cake. Are you kidding me? This cake is bigger than my head. Light cake with lemon filling and fresh blueberries. An amazing mélange of textures and flavors.
Yes, yes—the burger. Almost forgot. Decent flavor, nothing outstanding. I got the feeling they threw it on the menu just to round it out.
This peanut butter mousse pie is amazing. Easily a hand tall and fluffy as a cloud. I can confidently say that this is one of the best desserts I have ever eaten.
Right—the burger review. Well, there are plenty of good reasons to go to Hayes Barton. Most of them are in the dessert case. I give the desserts a 5 out of 5. The burger gets a 3.25.
A disclaimer: Of the 2,900+ burger reviews I’ve written throughout my career, this is the first time I’m starting with a clear bias. The Hayes Barton Café & Dessertery is one of my favorite restaurants in the Triangle—maybe #1—and it’s just about impossible for me to judge a meal there without the myriad positive associations that preceded it: the succulent, homemade, best-meal-I’ve-had-in-months dishes; the 1940s nightclub-esque elegance, music, and décor; and, of course, the outstanding (and gargantuan) cakes and pies that—even without the exceptional entrées and setting—elevate HBCD to a level somewhere around Neptune. So if you find yourself halfway through my review questioning my objectivity, you’re on a one-way steamer to Right Town. I’m Hayes-Barton all the way, baby.
My review: The burger was very good. 4 out of 5.
I urge you to go to Hayes Barton for the flavor.
The burger was a decent-quality cookie-cutter mass-produced patty on a nothing-special bun with okay cheese and veggies and disappointing mayo (switch to Hellman’s or Duke’s, guys!), cooked and assembled well enough to eke out a 3.5. So that’s the burger.
But the flavor—this place is loaded with flavor!
Cozy cozy cozy atmosphere, with a WWII/AMC theme (think P52 Mustangs, Bogie and Bacall, and a black-and-white classic flick playing quietly up in a corner of the dining room). Low, dark ceilings, soft lighting, walls covered in framed pictures and nostalgia, and the front glass windows and door affording a safe and satisfying view of the chilly city street. Friendly proprietors and staff, a nice back story, a surprisingly solid menu (despite my burger rating), nearly perfect crinkle fries, and DIVINE, ETHEREAL, SUBLIME HOUSE-MADE DESSERTS.
If you don’t go for the burger, go for all of the other “flavors” I mentioned. If you go for only one reason (and you should), go for the desserts. I want to cry as I think of them now, they are so sweet and savory.