The small group of renovated buildings on Marshfield’s Ocean Street had long been the sign of a weak economy. The dark, wide windows of new storefronts stood in stark contrast to aging, but successful, businesses on the block. There was a barbershop, Jackanson’s, then nothing, nothing, nothing.
Then along came KKatie’s Burger Bar.
Though it had been open only three weeks, the small restaurant attracted a bustling contingent on an otherwise quiet Wednesday night late last month. Customers filled parking spaces once empty out front, hovered around small tables lined desk-like along the narrow walls, and smiled over foamy beers on a half-wall turned countertop that ran through the center of the room.
The staff almost couldn’t find us a table in the cozy, casual room. I think we got the last one.
It isn’t surprising that the restaurant has been so successful — the burger bar is not new to the South Shore. Owner Kate McSorley opened the first location in Plymouth in 2010. The name is a reference to the dual ownership of the restaurant — a K for McSorley and a K for Keith Steiding, the staff said.
McSorley hasn’t wandered far from the successful menu of the Plymouth locale. Burgers remain the staples, which come in a variety that feels adventurous without veering into the absurd.
Customary french fries or upgraded sides – such as truffle fries, curly fries, onion rings ($1.50) – are offered, along with some chicken sandwiches and veggie burgers for those averse to beef.
Once we flagged down our waitress, who had vanished after quickly delivering a round of beers, my group settled on a classic appetizer of gluten-free Jumbo Jumbo Wings ($10).
While not as “jumbo” as the name might suggest, the wings were meaty and filling. Much to our disappointment, the order of 10 wings comes in only one flavor. Yet the Citrus Chipotle did not leave us forlorn.
Slathered in a sauce sweet yet tangy, the wings were crunchy and tender. Chipotle mayo set on the side cooled off the spice while adding its own tempered bent. The picky eater of the group raved about them; the deliberate diner nodded her head as she marveled at the layers of flavor. I had trouble leaving any uneaten.
The burgers were delivered in quick succession, coursed as we had requested and cooked exactly to specifications.
The Double Decker Melt ($11) was gluttony defined. A thick Angus burger was nestled between two grilled cheese sandwiches, complete with bacon, lettuce, mayo, and tomato.
I felt guilty even looking at the burger, but it was worth every bite. Buttered bread gave way to the gooey cheese center, bolstered by the strong flavor of the meat and a smoky bacon finish.
The dish was so good we practically forgot about the “green fries,” the unadorned fried green beans garnished only with a powdering of salt.
While the Double Decker rose to favorite for both the picky eater and the deliberate diner, the Hawaiian Burger ($11) was my top pick.
Sweet and salty, no flavor dominates this dish. A juicy, grilled pineapple slice plays nicely with teriyaki sauce, while the smoky bacon and pepper jack cheese jockey for position. All this on a well-seasoned burger contained in a crisp, grilled sesame seed bun.
The upgraded side of truffle fries was good, but not rave-worthy, though the truffle and Parmesan flavor dressed up this typical crispy side. KKatie’s “special sauce,” which comes on one of the burgers, wasn’t flavorful enough as a dipping sauce, and wasn’t worth the 50 cents we were charged.
The KKatie’s KKrunch Burger, however, is worth a visit. I’ve never seen potato chips – house made no less – put on a burger. The crunch matched that of the bacon. American cheese, caramelized onions, and a creamy roasted garlic and shallot dip rounded out the salt.
If you’re going to spring for any special side, choose the curly fries. They were crispy and sweet, spicy but not hot, and gone before the burger. Onion rings, too, were thick and crispy, and worth the surcharge.
Wanting to try a non-burger meal, we also opted for the Buffalo chicken sandwich ($10). A panko crust and moderate coating of buffalo sauce satisfied both the buffalo fanatic (the picky eater) and the non-fanatic (me). However, I wish they had put less blue cheese dressing on the top.
We also sampled the hot fudge brownie sundae ($6). The first dessert the Burger Bar had ever made, the dish met expectations. In the future, though, I might grab dessert at the frozen yogurt place down the street rather than purchase something I could easily make at home.
But there will be a future visit to KKatie’s. I still have to try the burger topped with chili, another topped with a fried egg, a Cajun-coated burger, and one topped with guacamole.
If there’s anything I learned about my first visit to the trendy, new place brightening Marshfield’s block, it’s that KKatie’s burgers are second to none. That and you need to ask for a lot of napkins – good burgers tend to get messy.