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Third Time’s A Charm

Since I went to Good Dog during my Meatless March adventure and had a really great veggie burger, I decided it was time to give their regular burger its final chance to impress me. My first trip in 2011 warranted a “D” rating and a revisit in 2013 upgraded that to a “D+”. Would a year & a half between visits finally give their burger rating the boost it deserved? I ordered the burger exactly the same way – topped with cheddar cheese, medium temperature – and kept my fingers crossed until it arrived. To recap, the burger is a 1/2 lb ground sirloin patty topped with lettuce & tomato on a brioche bun.

At first I was concerned because of all the empty space on the bun and the lettuce was a large, limp leaf sticking out from under the bun (which I tucked back in to take this picture). But I took one bite and a smile crept across my face: We had success! The burger was cooked perfectly to medium as requested and was nice and juicy. Once I began eating, the burger to bun ratio eventually evened itself out. It turned out to be a simple, flavorful, no frills bar burger. I was glad that I had enough confidence in it to return and try it for a third time & finally got the version of this burger that so many of my friends had bragged about as being the best in town. I’m proud to upgrade this burger’s rating from a “D+” to a “B”.

Burger rating: “B”

Una Bella Burger

If you’ve ever been to Atlantic City or the Jersey Shore, then you’re probably already familiar with Luke Palladino’s various restaurant establishments, focusing on innovative Italian cuisine. His latest venture, Palladino’s, brings his talents to Philly’s booming culinary epicenter, East Passyunk Ave, and focuses on Italian food as well as wood-fired steaks and chops. And it just so happens, they have a burger on their menu! Offered at the bar and during brunch, the 8 oz. wood-grilled burger is served on a house-made snowflake roll, and comes topped with Tallegio cheese, thick cut pickles, and smoked chili ranch.

I was skeptical at first when I heard the words “wood grilled”. Would special attention be paid to my requested temperature, or would my burger come out overcooked? This is a steakhouse after all, so I really should have known better – ensuring meat is cooked to the requested temperature is their specialty! My burger came out perfectly medium and was delicious, flavorful & juicy with every bite. The house-made bun was lightly toasted, yet still soft and fresh (although I did have to keep wiping the flour dust off my hands). The cheese was gooey and the pickles had a nice crunch to them. The smoked chili ranch wasn’t overpowering, which was good; this way you could taste the freshness of the meat. The only downside of the meal for me were the accompanying wedge fries, which were too thickly cut and not cooked enough for my liking, and the house made ketchup was way too sweet. Otherwise, the burger was perfect and (especially on the 90+ degree day when I went) didn’t leave me feeling weighed down or super full.

And since Palladino’s is launching their brand new happy hour TODAY (!), you can check out the burger Monday through Friday from 5-7 PM and Sundays from 2:30-5 PM for only $10!

Burger rating: “A”

Hunger No Longer

There’s been a big movement to eat ethically lately, with people are quickly growing conscious of the dangers of growth hormones and GMOs, opting for organic or local products, as well as ensuring that those who are growing and harvesting their foods aren’t being exploited. It’s not just about feeling good physically when going shopping or going out to eat; it’s about feeling good mentally as well. And at Hunger Burger (located in the famous Reading Terminal Market), they’re doing just that. In addition to using only the freshest ingredients and 100% hormone & antibiotic free all natural Black Angus beef, with every burger that is sold, they will donate a burger to feed a child in need – supporting local charities like Philabundance & No Kid Hungry. On my visit, I opted for the Philbert Burger (named for Filbert Street, which is adjacent to the market): topped with American cheese, green leaf lettuce, tomato, smoked bacon and their specialty HB sauce.

The burgers are smashed & griddled in a fashion similar to Smashburger, leaving a bit of a crispy char on the outside of the patty. They’re served on a soft potato bun and are on the smaller side (but don’t worry – you can order the burger as a double if you’re famished!) It was simply seasoned and really tasty. The menu said to ask if you want it topped with pickles, but the cashier asked me if I wanted a pickle and of course I said yes! It was a little bit on the pricey side (about the same range as Burgerfi across the street or Shake Shack), but worth it knowing that my money would be going to benefit someone in need. They serve crinkle cut fries just like Shake Shack as well, but with a lot more crunch! There’s even a variety of dipping sauces you can order for an additional fee ($1.50 – also a little pricey) if you choose. So next time you’re in Reading Terminal, think before you eat and let that tummy rumbling guide you over to Hunger Burger!

It Takes A Village

National Burger Month has come to a close sadly, but I celebrated it the best way I knew how: by eating my 100th unique burger in Philly! I knew I had to make it a good one, so of course I chose the crown jewel of burgers: The Whiskey King at Village Whiskey – An 8 oz patty topped with maple bourbon glazed cipollini onions, Rogue bleu cheese, Applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato and – the pièce de résistance – seared Foie Gras! Check out these two beautiful glamour shots below:

The burger was cooked perfectly to medium as requested and was super juicy. Luckily the burger was sandwiched between a giant seeded bun & had a “lettuce diaper” to help restrain some of the runoff. This was definitely a two hander! I took my time with it, trying to make sure that the burger didn’t slip away from me. The bacon was crisp, the onions nice & sweet, the bleu cheese was the perfect blend of creamy, tart & salty, and the foie gras was buttery and delicious. I did eventually run out of burger and had a little bit of bun and tomato left over, but I was just proud of myself for making it through this bad boy. I almost gave up halfway through, but I persevered!

On my way inside, I noticed this sign for the Better Burger Project, a challenge on behalf of the James Beard Foundation, encouraging restaurants to create a more delicious, healthy & sustainable burger by blending in finely chopped mushrooms to their burger mix. I normally hate mushrooms, but I would be interested in trying this! So keep an eye out at your local restaurant to see if they’re participating, or stop by Village Whiskey this summer to try their entry into the Better Burger Project: The Woodland Jewel Burger.

Burger rating: “A-“

Go Fly A Kite!

There are lots of places on my burger to-do list. Some of them are places that are new to me, but a lot of them are places that I’ve been before but haven’t had a chance to try the burger. Case in point: Kite & Key, frequented many times during stops on the Craft Beer Express, yet never ordered from the food menu – until now! I stopped in for lunch to check out their signature Kite & Key burger, a ½ pound ground Angus beer patty topped with cheddar cheese, bacon and fried shoestring onions on a toasted brioche bun.

The burger was ordered medium but came out slightly more on the medium-well to well done side, with a nice char on the outside of the patty. The bacon was nice and crispy and the onion strings gave everything a nice little crunch. The burger to bun ratio was perfect. While the burger itself may not have been as juicy as I would have liked, I still really enjoyed it. If you’re heading out for Philly Beer Week events this weekend, definitely swing by Kite & Key’s annual Throwdown in Franklintown event and fuel up with one of their burgers!

Burger rating: “C”

OH baby!

Oysters are one of my favorite treats on a warm, summer day when you don’t feel like eating something heavy. Oh, I know there’s that old stigma about not eating them during months without the letter “R” in them, but they’re just so light & fresh! So imagine my surprise when I found out that Oyster House combines both my favs in one meal: I’m talking about the OH burger – a burger topped with a fried oyster! It also comes topped with blue cheese and grilled onions on a brioche bun.

The burger came out perfectly cooked to medium as requested – it had been a while since I saw a nice, juicy pink center like that! The burger to bun ratio was good and I didn’t wind up with a soggy bottom. Unfortunately, it was kind of downhill after that. The fried oyster had way too much breading on it and was weighing down the top bun. Whenever I tried to take a bite, it would slip the top bun away from me! I also could barely taste the oyster over the breading. And the blue cheese was so salty and overpowering, I could barely taste anything else, either! They were very sizable little blue cheese chunks, which I was able to scoop up with some of the chips, but with each bite of burger, nothing else filled my mouth except blue cheese flavor. It was really disappointing. A milder cheese would definitely have been better – as well as a light batter on the oyster. Sometimes the best of both worlds isn’t always what you hoped it would be. Next time, I’ll just stick to buck-a-shuck!

Burger rating: “C+”

A Real “Tree-t”

It seemed like I’d all but exhausted the burger options around my job, especially those that only serve burgers during lunch. That is, until a few weeks ago when The Treemont announced that they would start a lunch service and that they would be adding a burger to that menu! So I threw my soggy salad in the trash and headed over to check out the Treemont burger, topped with short rib, smoked onion jam & Comte cheese. The burger comes with your choice of a salad or potato skins; I felt guilty over my tossed packed lunch, so I chose the salad option.

I wasn’t asked how I wanted the burger cooked, but it came out almost well done. Luckily, it was salvaged by the delicious short rib on top, which was tender and juicy. The cheese was thick and gooey. The onion jam gave the burger a nice, savory flavor without being too sweet. My favorite part might have been the bun; it had the flavor & consistency of a pretzel bun, but without the salt on top. It was well proportioned to the patty, although I did find myself with one final bite where there was only bun remaining. It was thick and helped to soak up all the runoff from the short  rib, the jam, the cheese, and what appears to be some kind of aioli smeared on the bottom bun. If this bad boy had been cooked perfectly to medium temp, it might just have gotten an A!

Burger rating: “B”

The Vulgar Chef

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