Pisatchio Bar & Grille / LaFreida Burger – $16.95
Allentown, PA | pistachiogrille.com/

Pistachio’s brings back great memories. It was once one of the cooler restaurants in the Lehigh Valley, back when there weren’t very many options for above-par food.

Nestled among a cluster of other chain restaurants such as TGIFriday’s and Carrabba’s on Cedar Crest Boulevard in Allentown, Pistachio Bar & Grille still appears to maintain a loyal following of patrons.

It had been several years – if not more than a decade – since I last ate at Pistachio, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. We visited on a Saturday evening, fully expecting the dining room to be full, but found a mostly empty restaurant. Granted, it was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so maybe most people were still eating turkey leftovers.

Pistachio has 2 burger offerings on their menu: one is in the form of angus sliders, and the other is called the LaFreida Burger. The latter is an Angus Chuck and Short Rib blend, which sounded delicious. The menu describes the burgers as “everything included”, and when Pistachio says everything is included, they literally mean everything. Any ingredient that they have on hand can be added to the burger, which is great, but slightly annoying considering there’s no list of ingredients or toppings. You’re left to guess what the kitchen might have on hand. A simple list of choices would’ve been helpful to figure out exactly what kind of burger to build.

In the end, I opted for something a little more straightforward: arugula, tomato, onion, and cheddar cheese, and an “herb aioli” that was highly recommended by our server, who thought it would taste awesome on the burger.

The burger arrives and actually looks quite promising. The patty, though, turns out to be overcooked. It’s still fairly juicy and has a decent amount of char, but there’s almost no pink the in middle, the true sign of a perfectly cooked medium temperature. Overall, it’s average at best, considering the promising angus chuck & short rib blend.

As for the toppings, the arugula, onion and tomato were fresh. There could have been a few more slices of cheddar, since the cheese mostly got lost on the burger. The “herb aioli” turned out to be more of a basil aioli. Luckily, I tried it before putting it on the burger. Not all was lost, however, since the aioli turned out to be a serviceable dipping sauce for the fries, which turned out to not be truffled at all. Not even in the slightest. Truffle is a powerful flavor, so even the slightest trace of truffle goes a long way, and is readily noticeable. There was zero truffle in these truffle fries. Oh, but they were battered. And I’ve already gone on ad nauseam about my dislike for battered fries.

But if I could pinpoint anything that ruined this burger, it was the bun. I usually cut the burger in half to check the temperature of the burger, and that’s when I noticed the crustiness of the bun. At first, I thought it was from being toasted, but after taking a few bites, I realized the texture of the bun could’ve only been achieved by it being a combination of very stale and over-toasted.

Final thoughts: Unfortunately, Pistachio’s LaFreida burger isn’t anything to get excited about. Sure, the “everything included” feature is kind of nice, and allows you to build any kind of burger with any toppings you’d like for one price. But for $16.95, make sure you add more than I did to my burger – like bacon or an egg – or you’re sure to leave just as disappointed as I was.

Pistachio Bar & Grille

LaFreida Burger - 12 / 30

Burger (6/10)6
Bun (2/10)2
Toppings (2/5)2
Sides (2/5)2
12Burger Score

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