The word “habit” conjures up visions of bad and sometimes expensive obsessions. As in “…gotta kick this _______ habit,” or “I’m just working to feed my habit.” So let me introduce you to what could become a good habit, and a reasonable one at that.
It recently landed in Fair Lawn, but The Habit Burger Grill was born on the west coast in 1969. The company has made its east-coast debut at the Fair Lawn Promenade Center (a development combination of apartments and retail). Invited to a media preview prior to opening, I was pleasantly surprised. Not just with the burgers, but with the entire operation. Adam Baird, partner and VP of food and beverage, gave me an overview of how the company operates. The ground beef for the burgers is always fresh, and custom-ground for The Habit at midnight (so it’s fresh for the next day). You can really taste that delicious, old-time char-grilled flavor (something missing in a lot of burger joints these days). I enjoyed the Charburger with cheese – flavorful, moist, and cooked medium rare (and I didn’t even have to ask!). All the burgers come with caramelized onions (a nice touch), mayo, pickles, lettuce, and tomato.
True to its California roots, the eatery offer grilled sourdough bread for many of the burgers and sandwiches. One standout is the Santa Barbara Style double char burger topped with cheese and avocado – loved it.
Their Tri-Tip Steak is trimmed and marinated in house. The sandwich is served with those terrific caramelized onions; it was delicious.
Not a burger fan? Try the Albacore Tuna Filet – line-caught, sushi-grade tuna steak with teriyaki glaze. Or one of the made-to-order salads, choose grilled chicken, BBQ chicken, Cobb, or Caesar. All the chicken breasts at The Habit are hand-filleted and marinated in house.
My onion ring-crazed dining companion raved about The Habit’s version: very crispy, fresh, and not at all greasy. I had to agree, these were very good. We also sampled the tempura green beans, a nice alternative to fries.
I liked the condiment bar set up for guests to help themselves to a little more spice, or lemons, limes, etc.
They brew three types of full leaf teas for iced tea, plus the usual soft drinks.
The Habit restaurants are all corporate-owned, not franchised (with the addition of the Fair Lawn location, the total number of locations nationwide hits 97). They put a lot of emphasis on staff training, from the front counter to the cooks to the bussers. It showed. In the greetings, in the constant sweeping of the tables/floors, in the well-prepared food. Of course, this was a media preview so everyone was “on,” but I got the feeling this type of hospitality training is in the company’s DNA.
So what about that “reasonable” habit I mentioned at the top? Well, how about $3.25 for a burger? Or $5.95 for the avocado-topped Santa Barbara burger? The tuna filet sandwich comes in at $6.95. And we are talking nice portions – no skimpy plates at The Habit. Those crave-worthy onions rings? Only $2.25.
Got a sweet tooth? Try one of their homemade shakes or malts—the strawberry was delish! They also offer adorable mini soft-serve ice cream cones (at $1 each!) and ice cream sundaes.
Let’s review: quality ingredients + good service + value = a good deal! If The Habit lives up to what I saw last week, the word “habit” may have a new, positive connotation in my book.
Prices are subject to change without notice.
The Habit Burger Grill
3101 Promenade Blvd.
Rt 208 North
Terry Krongold is a life-long, passionate baker. In addition to a full-time job in the pharmaceutical industry, Terry has been involved with food for many years, including co-ownership of a dessert catering company in the late eighties called I Love Cheesecake, specializing in fine cheesecake and unique desserts. Terry is the author of The Cook’s Tour, a blog focused on food, baking, and travel. When not working, writing, or baking, she spends time planning vacations around restaurants to visit. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.