Written by Maria Allen | Photography by Kjeld Mahoney
A New Kingston eatery delivers a family-friendly dining experience and a heavy dose of nostalgia.
After dishing up elegantly plated Italian cuisine all week long at Orta in Pembroke, chef/owner Brett Williams is usually in the mood for one thing—a great burger. When he heard about a new restaurant opportunity in Kingston, where he lives with his family, he decided to take a leap of faith and opened Rebel Burger Bar in November.
“Our goal is to serve honest, high-quality meals with a fun, retro atmosphere that reminds guests of a time when they were young,” says Williams. For people who grew up during the 80s, visiting Rebel Burger Bar is a blast from the past. Retro stickers and decals from iconic television shows, rock bands and movies decorate the bar top (think “Ghostbusters,” “Garfield” and Pee Wee Herman’s favorite teal armchair, “Chairry”. Posters for cult-classic films like “Footloose” and “Pretty in Pink” don the walls and tabletops—there’s even a vintage (non-functioning) pay phone.
As one might assume, burgers are central to the menu. Each “smash burger” is made with organic, pasture-raised beef that is sourced from a small farm in Maine and cooked to perfection. The burgers are juicy, well-seasoned and adorned with delicious toppings. Signature burgers are named for famous “rebels,” such as the Billy’s Idol, which is topped with drunken mushrooms, aged cheddar cheese, truffle oil and arugula, or the Norma Jean, a grain-fed turkey burger layered with jalapeno, red onion, cilantro and fresh greens. Other favorites include the David Hasselhoff, which comes with two patties, American cheese, smoked bacon, pickles and whisky barbecue sauce. Vegetarians can opt for the Moboogie Mama Burger, a Beyond veggie burger topped with avocado, pickled red onion, lime cilantro mayo and smoked gouda (this “burger” looks and tastes so real, you won’t believe it’s not meat). Guests can order a side of fries or bucket o’ tots with “mysterious sauces” for dipping.
The menu also includes fresh salads and savory appetizers like buffalo-fried cauliflower and homemade fried pickles served with ranch dressing. Dialing up the drink menu are craft beers, creative cocktails and adult milkshakes that pay homage to childhood snack-cakes. The Almond Joy, for example, is made with Baileys Irish Cream, Malibu Rum and vanilla ice cream and garnished with a giant coconut-covered Sno Ball, while the Mississippi Mudslide combines Baileys Irish Cream, Tito’s vodka, Kahlua, and coffee ice cream topped with a Little Debbie Swiss Roll.
Owners Brett and Cara have young children of their own and specifically designed Rebel Burger Bar so that it would be casual and welcoming to families. It’s the kind of place where parents can feel comfortable stopping in after picking their kids up from a soccer or baseball game without getting a sideways glance. There’s a “Rebels in Training” menu with simple burgers, crispy chicken fingers and old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwiches—not to mention ice cream bowls for dessert and a Ms. Pac-Man arcade machine in the back room. Though, the kids may have some friendly competition from mom and dad.
Rebel Burger Bar
114 Main St.