The menu is dominated by hamburgers made, according to the restaurant's website, from hormone-free California beef. The cutesy names of the burgers — the Lindsay Lohan, made with Irish cream; the Jim Kelly, made with buffalo sauce; and the John Waters, made with crab dip — are part of the appeal.
The Kathy Bates ($9), a vegetarian burger with fried green tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, avocado, red pepper coulis and mozzarella, had faint flavor. It would have been much more appealing if the burger been hot. It was not, and that dimmed its allure.
The Princess Di ($11) also had issues. It was hard to pick up. The combination of bacon, an egg sunny side up, cheddar cheese and a meat patty overpowered the English muffin (hence the name, I guess). Basically, the burger wilted.
The Sylvester Stallone ($11), with sauteed onions, mixed peppers and provolone cheese, lacked punch. Both the meat patties were cooked to order — medium rare — which was a plus.
A venture away from burgers was not successful. An entree called Obama ($17) was a mixture of grilled chicken and sauteed shrimp, plus pieces of broccoli, served with a curry sauce over noodles. It was confusing. Each component of the dish seemed to be going in a different direction. There was little harmony (hence the name?). I did like the broccoli, though.
We had better luck with the appetizers. The firecracker shrimp ($12) were crunchy morsels accompanied by sauce that was both hot and sweet. The lobster macaroni and cheese ($12) was warm and comforting, but the lobster seemed to get lost.
Part of my unhappiness with the evening might stem from the fact that the last time I dined in this space, I loved the experience. That was in the summer, when the restaurant on the corner was called Tangier's and served remarkable Moroccan food. Sadly, Tangier's closed soon after I visited it. Now Hollywood Burger Bistro has moved in, keeping some of the fixtures and serving on the same type of stylish large plates.
Also contributing to my unease was the slow service. It was Restaurant Week when we visited, and the three small dining rooms were packed. The staff of two servers hustled but were overwhelmed, hence the cold burger. It took forever to get two slices of cake ($6 each), and they were brought to our table by the cook.
With its vistas of Boston Street and Montford Avenue and its long, handsome bar, this is a pleasant space. But the dishes seem contrived. Building your own burger is an option, and in light of our troubles with the exotic creations on the menu, it seems like a smart way to go.
Hollywood Burger Bistro
Where: 845 S. Montford Ave.
Contact: 410-563-7437, hollywoodburgerbistro.com
Hours: 5 p.m.-midnight Monday and Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.-midnight Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Thursday and Friday, 10: 30 a m.-1 a.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-midnight Sunday
Credit Cards: All major
[Outstanding: ✭✭✭✭ Good: ✭✭✭ Fair or uneven: ✭✭ Poor: ✭]