The Hippo


May 31, 2020








“The Dublin burger.” Photo by Corey Garland Photography.

The Barley House Burger Fest

When: Friday, June 12, through Saturday, June 20 (closed Sundays) during regular kitchen hours
Where: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St., Concord
See: 228-6363,

Bring on the burgers
Gourmet burger festival raises money for charity

By Allie Ginwala

 After surpassing the 3,000-burger mark for the first time last year, The Barley House is gearing up for another Burger Fest starting on Friday, June 12, and continuing through Saturday, June 20. Get your fill of unique gourmet burgers while helping raise money to support CHaD at the 9th annual festival featuring a special menu of 10 to 15 burger creations that could be topped with anything from poutine to seafood.

“[We] come up with some crazy cool burgers,” owner Brian Shea said in a phone interview. “We’ll do turkey burgers [and] I think this year a tuna burger. We use bison some years, we’ve used elk or wild boar, so we’ve done exotic stuff. ... We run the gamut on things we do.”
The restaurant’s regular menu will be pared down during Burger Fest, consisting of lighter fare and sandwich options with the main focus on “burger burgers burgers,” Shea said. 
The burger selection typically isn’t finalized until shortly before the festival, though since The Barley House is celebrating its 15th anniversary year, some of the burgers may have a retro feel. 
The festival is treated almost as a burger laboratory; occasionally, burgers that debut during Burger Fest make it on to the permanent Barley House menu alongside regular favorites like the Korean burger (soy ginger barbecue sauce, beef patty, pickled cucumber and carrot, spicy lime mayo, sesame bun) and the Dublin burger (peppercorn charred, whiskey gravy, creamy blue cheese, crispy onions). 
Throughout the year, Barley House chefs can test their burger prowess with the burger of the week special.
“That in itself sometimes is an experiment, so we’re constantly experimenting with burgers,” Shea said. “We’re just trying to have fun and make it fun with the range we have here.”
Sometimes a burger they come up with isn’t a huge hit, but that doesn’t stop the staff from trying. 
“That’s part of the fun,” he said. 
The sky’s the limit when it comes to getting creative with a burger at The Barley House, Shea said. 
“We’re not cookie-cutter here so we’re not pumping out the same [burger] 200 times,” he said. “We’re doing 10 to 15 different burgers on different buns with different cheese.” 
He won’t claim the world’s best burger, but he guarantees that each time you sit down to eat you’re going to get a very good, fresh burger. 
“I think there’s a lot of great burgers out there, but we take it very seriously. … We grind fresh with all natural beef, we cure our own bacon here. We do a lot of the old traditional culinary craft here, and that’s why burgers kind of resonante with us.”
It’s clear that serving delicious gourmet burgers is Shea’s passion — burgers are the first thing he learned to cook as a kid. 
“It was really my first introduction into the culinary world,” he said. 
His final project before graduation from the Culinary Institute of America was to come up with a concept and design a restaurant.
“I did an upscale burger joint,” he said. “That was kind of where my heart was.”
Burger Fest raises money for CHaD and a local charity called Fred’s Fund, which provides anything from extra beds to iPads to gas gift cards and food vouchers to help make the lives of kids, families and caretakers in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock a little easier. 
Each burger on the Burger Fest menu is sponsored by a local business, and for every burger sold, The Barley House and the business donate a dollar. Ten beers from New Hampshire Distributors will be on tap and for each one sold, they’ll also donate a dollar. 
“We have a possibility when you sit down with burger and a beer to donate $3,” Shea said. 
As seen in the June 11, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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