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The newly opened Union Burger Bar in Southampton has no pretenses when it comes to guilty pleasures. Owner Ian Duke and executive chef Scott Kampf conceptualized the restaurant with one question in mind: “Where can we go to get a great burger?”
“The burger is essentially America’s contribution to world cuisine,” Duke said. “Everyone eats them in one form or another and many people on a very regular basis. From there it grew to the idea of having a place that satisfied many of those indulgences.”
The menu is designed to be a list of American favorites. Those include the giant New York pretzel with beer cheese and fried corn fritters, for starters, and decadent milkshakes, such as the s’mores-inspire Kampfire, to finish.
The main star, of course, is the burger … and there are many options to sink your teeth into. The breakfast burger with fried egg and hash browns and the Mac Attack with homemade mac’n’cheese on a potato bun are among diner’s top choices. The build-your-own burger is also popular due to the wide range of protein, buns, cheeses and toppings to choose from, Duke said. The beef burgers are also hormone, anti-antibiotic and additive free.
“I am a believer in quality, no nickel and diming,” said Duke, who is also the veteran restaurateur behind Lucky’s Famous Burgers in Manhattan. “I eat a lot of burgers myself and have learned that one of the biggest health issues we have in this country is the hormones and antibiotics in our food supply. Let’s eat decadent foods, but live long enough to eat a lot of them.”
The 62-seat restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining opened in January in a shared space with Duke and Kampf’s Mexican restaurant Union Cantina, the former home of Southampton Publick House, which moved to Jobs Lane in 2016. Union Burger, which has a separate entrance from the Union Cantina, replaces the restaurant’s former 400 Rabbits Tequila Bar.
“The restaurant was designed to feel like a modern day take on an old pub,” Duke said. “Since the place was originally a speakeasy back in the days of Prohibition, it gave us great bones to work with.”
The Burger Bar maintains its speakeasy ties with exposed brick walls and vintage photos of Southampton’s rich history.
“The place has a warm, cozy feeling,” he said. “We’re big on Bourbon too so it’s a nice place to sip a great one.”
Kampf now helms the kitchen at both Union Cantina and Union Burger Bar.
“The two cuisines are so different that people can enjoy one on Tuesday and the other on Thursday,” Duke said. “Fun, easy casual dining is what both places cater to — great for families as well as the crowd who wants to enjoy the music or even the bar scene.”
Union Burger Bar is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week at 40 Bowden Square in Southampton.