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Feeling Hollow

This week’s “trek back from the ‘burbs” landed me in Mount Airy once again, this time at Goat Hollow (not to be confused with Goat’s Beard in nearby Manayunk). I’d heard good things about the burgers here so I figured it was worth checking out. They had four specialty burgers which you can get with your choice of beef, chicken or veggie – as well as a lamb burger that is listed under their sandwiches. I opted for the signature Goat Hollow burger, topped with pickled pork belly & provolone – because I love pork belly (even if I have had some hit or miss run-ins with it used as a burger topping in the past).

The burger came out and looked pretty promising. However, once I picked the burger up, the beef looked like it was a frozen, pre-formed patty, which was kind of a let down since I’d heard such good things. When I took it bite, it was definitely not medium as requested and quite overcooked, which confirmed to me that it was probably a frozen patty. The pork belly was overpowered by the pickled flavor and also very overcooked and chewy. The sharpness of the provolone clashed sharply with whatever was used to pickle the pork belly, giving it a harsh, bitter flavor. The bun, a boring brioche. With no other toppings aside from a smear of the same aioli they gave me for my fries, this burger definitely left me feeling hollow. I was disappointed because the atmosphere inside was cozy and they were playing tons of my favorite 80′s songs (The Smiths, A-ha, Men at Work and the Talking Heads twice? Yes please!). Oh well, at least the draft list was decent!

Burger rating: “C-”

Burger Not So Ugly

I’ve been living around the corner from The Ugly Moose in Manayunk for over four years now but just ventured in for the first time this week to check out their burger. I could have kicked myself for not coming in here sooner. Touting themselves a “Canadian-American pub” on their website, the place has a cozy, ski lodge vibe and an amazing craft draft and bottle list (before you ask, yes, they have poutine!). With a variety of burgers on the menu, I opted for the Ayr-Back Farms burger: topped with locally made, organic cheddar cheese, Applewood smoked bacon as well as lettuce, tomato, red onion.

While the burger itself was pretty standard, I was surprised at how fresh and delicious the cheese was. Some cheeses tend to loose their flavor when they melt, but not this one. It added a great flavor to the burger, which was cooked perfectly medium as requested. The Applewood bacon was crispy without being stringy and the smokiness wasn’t over-powering. Who knew this hidden gem (and I mean that quite literally, as the Ugly Moose is in a shared off-street space on Shurs Lane called “The Garage”, also home to Deke’s BBQ) was just a few blocks away?

Burger rating: “B+”

 

 

Hot Diggity!

Growing up in New York, hot dogs were pretty much a required part of my food pyramid along with cheesecake, bagels, knishes and pizza. Nothing beats that first bite into a Sabrett’s hot dog. So I was especially excited when I moved to Philadelphia and discovered Hot Diggity – a “haute” dog eatery on South Street that showcases the various awesome regional hot dogs the U.S. has to offer – uses Sabrett’s dogs! That excitement was maximized this summer when Hot Diggity decided to add burgers to their menu! And while I haven’t been enough of a glutton to put a hot dog on top of a burger yet, I did recently check out their Mexi-cali burger, which is kind of like the meat patty version of my fav Hot Diggity dog, the Fiesta Dog. It comes topped with chipotle mayo (also my fav dipping sauce for their Belgian-style fries), lettuce, tomato, onions, jalapeno (which I ordered without because I’m a wimp), guacamole, and tortilla strips on the same delicious Liscio’s rolls they serve their hot dogs on. It was messy and delicious. Now the hardest part of my trips here will be deciding whether I want a hot dog or a burger!

Oh, did I also forget to mention that this summer I entered Hot Diggity’s annual “Dog Days of Summer Amateur Cook-Off” in Headhouse Square? Check out the creation below that won me “Best Homage”: The South Street Schmitter!

Making it Grain

Now that I commute to the suburbs every day, trying to find new and interesting burgers is like a scavenger hunt. Luckily, I can drive home through Chestnut Hill and Mount Airy if I so choose, giving me more options than Irish pub food or chain restaurants. This week, I stopped into newly opened Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange in Mount Airy as I saw on their Facebook page that Mondays were half-price burger nights (and you guys know how much I love a good burger deal). Their Farmhouse burger is an all natural, grass-fed beef patty topped with Cooper sharp American cheese, Applewood bacon, bibb lettuce and sweet tomato jam on a potato bun.

The burger came out cooked perfectly medium, the grass-fed beef juicy and flavorful. The sweet tomato jam wasn’t overpowering (which I had been concerned with initially when reading the menu) and added a nice tang. The cheese was gooey and the bacon was thick cut with a good crunch to it. The potato bun was so soft and delicious, it was like eating a burger that was sandwiched between a cloud! Good burger to bun ratio; I never once worried about a soggy bottom bun or running out of bun before burger. For having only found out about this place hours before eating here, the Grain Exchange really knocked it out of the park on the first try!

Burger rating: “A-”

Mon Petit Burger

I’m feeling a little French this week as I just checked out Bardot Cafe, a sexy new bar in Northern Liberties named after French film femme fatale, Brigitte Bardot. But don’t let the name of this post dissuade you: the burger here was not “petit” by any means. This massive, thick patty, topped with caramelized onions, lettuce, and mahon cheese underneath a sexy, seeded bun will have you saying, “Oui, Oui!”

The burger came out cooked perfectly medium as requested. It was delicious and juicy, the caramelized onions and cheese pairing nicely with the flavor of the meat (And if you guys didn’t already know, caramelized onions are one of my favorite burger toppings). The piece of lettuce underneath the burger acted as a diaper of sorts to avoid that dreaded soggy bun. The only problem that I had was the burger to bun ratio: Oh sure, from the picture above, everything looks pretty proportional. But once you start chowing down, you start to run out of bun pretty quickly since the burger patty itself is so sizable. I tried to compensate as much as I could but still found myself with a few bites of just meat at the end.

Oh, and if you’ve still got room for dessert after all that burger, the Cocoa Banana Bread is très bien!

 

Burger Rating: “B+”

 

Suburban Burgers: MaGerk’s

When I used to commute to Montgomery County daily, I drove past MaGerk’s in Fort Washington every day. Once a month or so, the office would congregate there on a Friday afternoon for happy hour, but surprisingly, I had never eaten there before! Since it’s on my drive home and Mondays just happen to be half-price burger night, I figured I would check it out. There are about five burger options to choose from, including an avocado topped California turkey burger & a build your own Angus burger option. I opted for the build your own topped with cheddar cheese and bacon (for an additional 50 cent each) – because, hey, why not? It’s half price!

The burger was cooked slightly above medium so not completely pink in the center, and “smashed burger” style with a nice char on the exterior. The bacon was crispy but didn’t have much flavor; I couldn’t really differentiate it from the burger itself unless I happened to look at where I was taking a bite. The Angus beef was a little too greasy for my liking, but luckily a lot of that grease was caught by the shiny, soft potato roll it was perched on. The burger usually comes with chips, but I opted for fries for an extra $2 – especially when the bartender mentioned they were waffle fries! All said and done, the burger – including the add-ons of cheese, bacon & fries – wound up being less than the 8 oz pour of Southern Tier Pumpking I paired with it ($8 for the beer vs $7 for the burger). It was a pretty decent bar burger, but I was glad that it was half-price because I probably wouldn’t get it a regular night. (Never say never, though: all drafts are $3 on Tuesdays from 5-9 PM, so you may need something to soak up all that beer!)

Burger rating: “C-”

Suburban Burgers: Forest & Main

My job has “banished” me to the lovely suburbs of Montgomery County for a few weeks, so in addition to taking in the scenery of fall foliage and soccer mom-mobiles, I figured why not check out what kind of burgers the ‘burbs have to offer? First up in the series, Forest & Main Brewery in Ambler. Friends have had nothing but good things to say about the brewery, and I’ve tried a few beers that have popped up on tap around Philly, so I knew this had to be my first stop. Plus, on Tuesday nights during Happy Hour (5-7 PM), their F&M burger is only $10! Not long after I arrived, the guy sitting next to me had his burger brought out to him and I said, “YES! GIVE ME ONE OF THOSE RIGHT NOW!”

The burger is topped with PA Noble Aged Cheddar, bacon mayonnaise (!!!) and comes with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a house-made pickle & chips housed under a shiny, brioche bun.

The burger was cooked perfectly medium and was nice & juicy. And the bacon mayo? OMG! How did I ever live life before without this? I know that the whole “bacon fad” is still kind of a lingering thing, but this was solid – tasty & amazing – really enhancing the flavor of the burger without overwhelming it with a bacon-y taste. All the ingredients were fresh and local. I was completely blown away by this burger, as well as all the beers Forest & Main had on tap. The suburban burger bar has been set so high straight out of the gate that I feel ready to embrace any future disappointment. Get yourselves on a train from Center City as soon as possible and come try this burger now!

Burger rating: “A”

The Vulgar Chef

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