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Prime Time

The best part about going home to visit my parents is getting to try new burgers in new places. This trip took us to craft beer & burger joint, Prime 16 in Orange, CT. As our waiter informed us, the kitchen is entirely a scratch kitchen – everything from their sauces to their dressings and in between. They also partner with local farms and businesses for all the other products (meat, veggies, beers), and the beef used in the burgers in 100% grass-fed, hormone-free Angus beef. There were so many different burger varieties, it was hard to decide which one to choose! But I went with the Cowboy: topped with cheddar, smoked Canadian bacon, lettuce & a fried egg since this was the closest to my usual go-to burger. I also upgraded to truffle fries because, truffle fries, duh!

The burger was massive and came on an equally massive (but proportional) potato roll. The burger was nice and juicy, albeit cooked slightly over my requested medium to medium well. The cheddar was gooey and the fried egg was just undercooked enough to let a little bit of yolk mingle in with the meat without making a big mess. The Canadian bacon was tasty and not chewy, as it can sometimes tend to be (like on an Egg McMuffin). You could definitely taste the freshness of the meat. I really appreciate when a restaurant sources their meat locally, using fresh instead of frozen patties. It really makes a big difference! The lettuce underneath the burger acted kind of like a “diaper” to soak up the juices, avoiding that dreaded soggy bottom bun. My only issues were 1) the side of pico de gallo which seemed out of place with the rest of the toppings, so I didn’t utilize it and 2) the truffle fries weren’t nearly as truffle-y as I would have liked, but probably for the best since some places tend to overload the truffle oil and then you can’t taste anything else. There was also a bacon STUFFED burger on the menu that I was checking out, so I’ll have to make another trip home soon to check it out!

Burger rating: “B”

Burgers In The House!

There’s no shortage of restaurants in South Philly. Unfortunately, fine dining or family-style Italian places seems to outnumber places serving up good ol’ fashioned burgers. Not that that’s a bad thing, but for the purposes of this blog, it requires a little  more legwork than usual. So I strapped on my sneakers and hoofed it all the way down to 13th & Shunk this week to check out SouthHouse, which opened just a few months ago. The bar has a really cozy neighborhood vibe while also feeling like a chic gastropub. They’ve got lots of great craft beers on tap, as well as veggie and gluten-free options in addition to their upscale bar fare. I opted for their SouthHouse burger: a house made burger topped with roasted red pepper, portobello mushroom, smoked manchego, rocket pesto on an onion poppy brioche.

It took a while for the burgers to come out & when they did, I could see why. They appear to be baked instead of cooked on a flat top grill, which is fine by me (my parents used to cook burgers this way at home in the winter months before the invention of the George Foreman grill, lol). Unfortunately that meant that my medium burger came out slightly more on the medium-well side, with just a wink of pink. Since they also have meatballs on the menu, I’m guessing they used the same seasoned meat blend for the burgers, which gave the patty a really nice flavor. The roll was nice and fresh, thick enough to withstand the juices from the patty. The house-made pesto topping also paired really well with the seasoning of the meat; truly a South Philly Italian burger right here! It was tasty and didn’t leave me feeling stuffed afterwards – which gave me plenty of extra room to pick at their hand-cut fries, which have a seasoning on them similar to BBQ potato chips (finger-lickin’ good!). They also make their ketchup in house and you can choose from regular or pomegranate. Go for the pomegranate – it’s amazing and not overly sweet – definitely a must-try!

Burger rating: “B”

P’unked!

Big news! I’ve recently moved to South Philly because I ran out of burgers to eat in the Manayunk/Roxborough area (kidding… sort of.), so it’s time to cover some new ground. With new ground comes a brand new burger joint on East Passyunk Avenue: P’unk Burger (a play on the shortening of the Passyunk name). They’re serving up burgers, shakes & fries while being committed to using local, organic ingredients. I checked out their traditional burger topped with American cheese, tomato, red onion, P’unk signature sauce (appeared to be some kind of balsamic-ish drizzle? cannot confirm since it does not list exactly what it is on the menu or website).

The menu states that all burgers are cooked to medium unless otherwise requested. My burger was slightly more on the medium-well to well side, but still had a lot of flavor. I could taste the freshness of the grass-fed beef and all the other toppings were very fresh as well. The bun was a little bit on the stale side, but didn’t hinder the overall experience. It was a very simple and fairly tasty burger. They also had a bunch of specialty burgers with different toppings that I can’t wait to come back and try. I’ll be sure to take my time testing them all out, otherwise I’ll have to move again (still kidding… maybe)!

Burger rating: “C+”

Veggie, Dawg!

So here we are, our very last veggie burger of Meatless March. Since several of the other veggie burgers I tried this month were from places where I’d already had their regular burger, I decided I’d continue that trend and stopped by Good Dog Bar – a bold move considering that on both of my visits there, I was extremely disappointed in their basic beef burger. Could their veggie burger wow me? Or would I leave once again with my tail tucked between my legs?

The veggie burger here is a patty of roasted eggplant, mushrooms, lentils & brown rice topped with lettuce, tomato, crispy shallots & spicy ketchup on onion brioche roll. The patty itself looked great; I love when I’m able to see all the elements together. That way I know they’re not just using some frozen fake meat. All the flavors came together really nicely and the spicy ketchup wasn’t overly spicy. I tried to put some of the accompanying fry sauce on the patty, but it made it kind of bland, cancelling out the veggie flavors. I also liked that they used an onion roll and not a boring brioche. It tasted really fresh and healthy – even if I was also chowing down on their signature kennebec & sweet potato hand-cut fries! I’m a little disappointed that their veggie burger was better than their regular burger, but that just means I’ll have to give the regular burger one last shot after all.

So, which of the four veggie burgers that I ate this month stole my heart? Unlike last year, there was a clear winner – CITY TAP HOUSE! Everything about their veggie burger just clicked for me. The beets, the cheese, the multi-grain roll – it was the kind of veggie burger that makes you forget that you’re not eating meat because it’s so damn delicious. Am I about to give up on meat burgers for good for it? Definitely not! I’m already counting the minutes until April 1st so I can dive right back into some medium-cooked meat!

Keeping it Pin-teresting.

Don’t get confused by this post’s title: it doesn’t have anything to do with Pinterest; it’s meant to be a nod to Varga Bar‘s playful pin-up girl decor. This week we stopped by during a very, very, very, very busy Sunday brunch (the three extra very’s are for the three other restaurants that I tried to stop at before I was able to finally snag one of the last bar seats here) to check out their veggie burger. The menu touts the burger as being topped with heirloom tomato, English cucumber, cheddar and truffle aioli on a country white roll.

The burger came out and it was positively massive! I mean, just look at that thing! I was also excited to find another veggie burger topped with cheese, especially given how delicious the one I had last week was. The patty had lots of fresh veggies in it – I tasted red peppers and there were even some visible corn kernels & chickpeas! I love to see that a restaurant is making their own veggie burgers instead of just throwing some frozen fake meat patty on a grill and then putting toppings on it. The tomato and cucumber topping was crisp and fresh, helping balance out some of the softness of the veggie patty and giving it a better mouth feel. The truffle aioli was present, but used sparingly so as to not overpower the taste of the veggies. I really enjoyed the side salad that it came with, dressed in olive oil & white balsamic vinegar. But then the couple next to me order fries and I had so many regrets! It was a very large salad portion though, so it filled me up quickly especially after how big the burger was. I wound up not even finishing it and still felt really healthy. I can’t wait to come back and try their regular burger (but make no mistake, I’ll definitely be getting it with fries)!

Beet That!

I’ll admit, even though last year’s Meatless March challenge proved that there’s a definitely great veggie burgers to be had, I’ve been setting my expectations pretty low. Even more so if I’m going to a place whose beef burgers weren’t that great. I’d been to the City Tap House in University City before, but they just opened a new location in Logan Square close to my job so I figured I’d check it out. Their veggie burger is a wild rice, oats, black beans and beet patty topped with aged cheddar, dijonnaisse, roasted tomato, and alfalfa sprouts on a multi-grain bun.

Honestly, a bar or a pub is the last place that I would expect myself to order a veggie burger at and I definitely was not expecting it to taste good. But this one tasted AMAZING! (Yes, I actually used those exact words when the bartender asked how everything was). All the different components – the oats, the beets, the beans – just worked together so beautifully and gave everything a great flavor. The cheese was probably what did it for me the most (I thought it was a pretty bold move to put cheese on a veggie burger since you might normally associate the typical veggie burger eater with being a Vegan). I could barely tell that I was eating a veggie burger at that point, and that’s what had been lacking in a lot of other veggie burgers I had. Also: the dijonnaisse – that gave the burger a little kick, clearing my sinuses right up! The multi-grain roll was a nice, healthy touch; soft but lightly toasted, adding some crunch (which, if you’ll remember from last week, was one of my issues with the super soft bun used at Taproom on 19th).

As my burger arrived, some guy was passing by my table and said, “Well at least the burgers look great!” Well sir, they taste pretty great, too!

Meatless March: The Sequel!

Since last year’s Meatless March experiment was such a success (or maybe I’m just trying to torture myself), I’ve decided to embark upon the adventure once again. It was a lot of fun trying different meatless burgers around town. They totally made me rethink the stereotype of a veggie burger being a boring, bland, dry-looking circle of fake meat. There were veggie-infused patties in all sizes, shapes and colors. Kicking things off this month is the “Bonzo Burger” at Taproom on 19th – a veggie patty consisting of Garbanzo beans, black quinoa, feta & cumin topped with cilantro yogurt on a Conshohocken Bakery roll.

The patty came with a char on the outside, reminiscent of your favorite backyard burger minus that burnt meat smell. The overall flavor of the burger was great but I felt that the texture of the patty itself was a little too soft, especially paired with the super soft bun. I added some of my salad to the top of the burger to give it a better mouth feel & add a little bit of crunch. It’s definitely worth checking out – especially on Monday nights when all burgers are 1/2 price!

NB: Just like last year, I won’t be doing individual ratings for the veggie burgers. At the end of the month I’ll do a recap of all the burgers I tried and let you know which one was my favorite! So be sure to tell all your veggie/herbivore or Lent following friends to check this series out!

The Vulgar Chef

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