For years, north Lincoln Memorial Drive was a barren food wasteland. If you were enjoying a day at the beach, your food options were limited to the Bradford Beach concession stand (meh) and Alterra (good but not enough). I think I’ve seen a hot dog cart or two some days, and those paleta guys come around from time to time. But that was it, which was really kind of ridiculous.
Then two summers ago, The Bartolotta Restaurant Group, with their pedigree of nationally recognized restaurants behind them, came to the rescue and opened Northpoint Custard (2272 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.), a red and white throwback snack shack that offers a full menu at, for the most part, reasonable prices. It was about time.
Northpoint claims to have the “the best burger and malt on the lakefront!” And while that’s 100 percent true, they’re also the only burger and malt on the lakefront. For me, which won’t be surprising for my regular readers (why are you laughing?), it’s all about the burgers. A basic Old School with ketchup, mustard, pickles and onions will run you just $3.25 ($3.95 with cheese), but if you really want to get crazy, you can order the Quad (four patties, four slices of cheese) for $10.95. Between those two extremes are pre-designed specials such as the Beach (avocado, tomato, onion, sprouts and mayo for $5.25), the Seagull (sautéed onions and Merkt’s cheddar cheese spread for $4.25) and the Q (barbecue sauce, sautéed onions, bacon and cheddar for $5.25).
Oddly enough, the Old School was the highlight of the meal. Although the quarter-pound patty was significantly smaller than I remember from last summer, it was a tasty, moist-enough classic cheeseburger made all the better by the buttery Sciotino’s roll. The Seagull was another hit – creamy and pungent – while the Beach, which I was most excited for, was the biggest disappointment. The toppings were wilted, scrawny and barely detectable. Of the four that were ordered, it was the only one not completely eaten.
If, however, you’re not feeling like a burger (what’s wrong with you?!), they have other offerings, too, ranging from the affordable (a $2.25 kosher beef hot dog, $2.95 grilled cheese, $4.95 grilled chicken breast and a $4.50 veggie burger) to the less than (a $7.95 fried perch sandwich, a $4.50 brat, a $6.95 grilled Portobello and a $6.95 Italian beef sandwich). Even at seven bucks, I would strongly recommend the Portobello, whether you’re meat-averse, watching your figure or you just enjoy a rich and meaty sandwich. So, that’s pretty much everyone.
As for sides, you can get fries ($2.50), cheese curds ($3.95) or onion rings ($2.95). While the fries are your standard issue crinkle cuts, nothing really of note, the onion rings were beer-battered and crispy and the cheese curds with chewy and squeaky, just like they should be. But they were wanting of a dipping sauce.
While the savory food is good (though not great), the custard has always left me disappointed. I know my co-workers love it (or at least really, really like it) but I find it to be bland. Whether it’s a scoop of vanilla (“REAL Madagascar Vanilla,” in fact) with raspberries (which were neither fresh berries nor the frozen, syrupy variety but some weird raspberry gel) or a hot fudge malt ($3.95), the flavors are not as pronounced as I want or expect them to be. That said, I’ve seen Cristina Daglas make quick work of an enormous turtle sundae ($4.95) on several occasions, so maybe it’s just me.