REVIEW: Bunz offers a constellation of burger and bakery choices

By MB Partlow, The Gazette - Updated: October 28, 2013 at 8:06 pm • Published: October 28, 2013 | 12:05 pm 0

Want to put your willpower to the test? Have a meal at Bunz Bakery and Burger Bar.

The warm, yeasty, sugary scent of freshly baked goodies fills the restaurant, which resembles a diner with its comfy booths and bright red accents. The bakery cases will catch your eye with fanciful displays of decorated cakes, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, brownies, cookies and more. The burgers will entice you with the promise of infinite variety, since each one is assembled to your specifications from the bun up. Don't worry, the wait staff (who is friendly, if often slow) will walk you through the process.

Since burgers are in the name, let's start there. The proprietors have made it a point to offer all natural meats, local whenever possible. That quality really does make a difference in the flavor of the meat.

The blessing and curse at Bunz is that you create your own burger, any way you want it. The regular burgers ($9.99) include beef, turkey, chicken (patty or breast) and pulled pork.

When I visited, there was a vegetarian eggplant patty listed among the regular burgers. The item has been dropped, and they are in the process of finding a substitute, most likely a portabella mushroom, our waitress told us. The current vegetarian option is a grilled veggie sandwich with any components you like from the toppings, which they call The Goods. While the result is delicious, it's way too slippery and messy to pick up and eat like a sandwich.

The pulled pork is juicy, slow cooked and tender. Skip the Cattleman's sauce, which was too sweet and overpowered the pork.

The premium burgers ($11.99) include salmon, buffalo, Rocky Mountain trout, Colorado lamb, crab cake, elk, Alaskan cod, venison and more.

The salmon was a nice filet, seasoned well but overcooked. Paired with tzatziki sauce, sliced cucumbers, lettuce and tomato, it still made a good sandwich.

Both the lamb and the elk were outstanding, hand-formed patties that were properly crusty and brown on the outside, juicy on the inside. The buffalo had a good, hearty flavor, but the patty was again a little overcooked.

The bakery side of Bunz makes all their buns. There are 19 choices, including a soft brioche that paired nicely with the salmon, as well as cheddar, ciabatta, doughnut, English muffin, jalapeno, pretzel and more. You'll probably never get a fresher bun for your burger. The pretzel bun had a properly chewy crust, but needed a sprinkle of salt on top to complete the flavor.

After you choose your burger and your bun, you can choose from a dozen cheeses. Your options range from American to blue, feta crumbles to creamy goat cheese. Then you choose from up to four "goods" to top your sandwich. Some are what you'd expect: lettuce, tomato, pickles. But you'll also find onions fresh or grilled, roasted chilies, french fries, slaw, fresh spinach and more. Premium toppings, which cost a dollar extra, include items like a fried egg, grilled pineapple and natural bacon.

You aren't done. There's also a selection of sauces, which come on the side of your burger so you can add as much or as little as you like. Mustards. Salad dressings. A half-dozen different aiolis. Plus, ingredients that include chipotle ketchup, mango chutney, guacamole, hot wing sauce and sour cream.

The variety of this menu is great, because it allows you to customize your burger any way you want it. But the curse is the exact same variety. For some folks, all that choice is overwhelming. I know what flavors I like together, but watching someone trying to decide what to order can be agonizing.

On the side of every burger, you get either a house salad or freshly cut french fries. The salad is fresh, a mix of organic greens, some shredded carrot and crunchy croutons. The fries are good, but on my first visit the overhead fans were set too high and the resulting gale-force winds chilled my fries before I had the chance to eat more than one or two.

Note to management: If napkins and checks are being blown to the floor, turn down the fans.

The menu also has homemade soups ($4.95-$5.50), including a tomato and roasted red pepper bisque, a chicken and poblano chowder and a soup of the day. Salads ($3.95-$10.99) range from the side salad to a spinach and a Cobb, but I haven't made my way past the burgers yet.

On the bakery side, it's hard to imagine that you could go wrong no matter what you ordered. You see, the folks who own Bunz are the same folks who own the Donut Mill in Woodland Park. You get the same great treats without having to drive up the pass. While a lot of folks prefer the airy perfection of yeast doughnuts, I'm a cake doughnut woman. These don't disappoint: firm texture and fine crumb without being greasy. And a chocolate-frosted doughnut only set me back a dollar.

The bear claw ($2.95) should more accurately be called the Yeti Foot. I'm not kidding when I say a single pastry would feed four.

DETAILS

Restaurant character: Part excellent bakery (by the folks who run the Donut Mill in Woodland Park) and part burger restaurant, Bunz features almost any combination of burger toppings you can think of. The interior looks like a bright, retro diner, and happily, the friendly wait staff isn't wearing kitschy costumes. Rating total: 3.75 out of 5 stars Food: 4.25 out of 5 stars Ambiance: 4 out of 5 stars Service: 3 out of 5 stars Address: 11550 Ridgeline Drive Contact: 481-0555; www.bunz bakeryburgerbar.com Hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily Entrees: $9.99-$11.99 Alcohol: No Credit cards: Yes Vegetarian options: Grilled vegetable sandwich ($9.99) Wi-Fi: No

What's online

As of Oct. 16:

- 55 percent of 47 voters "liked it" on Urban Spoon

- 4 out of 5 stars based on 13 reviews on Yelp

- On Facebook; search "Bunz Bakery & Burger Bar"

- No violations noted during August inspection by the El Paso County Health Department.

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