RSS Feed

Hamming It Up

Back in February, Top Chef season 7 winner Kevin Sbraga branched out from his fine-dining namesake restaurant and opened The Fat Ham, a good ol’ fashioned Southern dining establishment. The menu is centered around home-style classics like shrimp & grits, fried oysters and hot chicken. A pimento cheese-topped burger used to be on their lunch menu, but unfortunately, they ceased lunch service a few months ago. I had really been looking forward to trying that burger, as pimento cheese is a Southern staple. I even tried a pimento-topped burger in Nashville, but was unimpressed. Well, the burger gods must have heard my prayers, because The Fat Ham just brought the burger back, offering it only on Friday & Saturday nights after 9 PM (kind of like Atlanta’s Holeman & Finch, who at 10 PM each night, serve up a limited 24 burgers). Not only that, the burger comes with fries and is paired with a shot of Four Roses bourbon and a Neshaminy Creek beer (AKA “the Citywide” special) for a mere $18. Considering the burger itself is a 6 oz Wagyu beef patty, it’s probably the best deal in town.

I was not asked how I wanted my burger cooked, but it was a perfect medium-rare (anything else on that quality of meat would practically be criminal). The bun was soft and fluffy, baked in house in the same sesame seed topped style as the table rolls and the slider rolls used for the fried oyster sliders. The pimento cheese was gooey and slightly browned on top, the red peppers and pickles in the cheese giving the burger a nice, tangy kick.. With no toppings other than the cheese, it was simple and delicious. I just wish I didn’t have to wait until 9 PM on the weekend to eat it – I’d order this bad boy all the time!

Burger rating: “A”

Rockin’ Burgers

So you’ve decided to go out and catch some live music. You’ve pushed through crowds to get a beer and a good spot to watch the band when your stomach begins to rumble. You know you should’ve eaten before the show but now here you are, minutes away from seeing  your favorite band and you’re hungry. What will you eat? Well, I’ve got a few burger suggestions from some local venues to help you out.

First up, Festival Pier. This re-vamped, outdoor space on the Delaware River plays home to Michael Shulson’s (of Sampan & Izakaya fame) Independence Beer Garden Truck, a mobile outpost of the newly opened beer garden on Independence Mall. The burger here is a simple patty topped with lettuce, tomato, pickled red onion, mayo and provolone on an onion roll. Considering the food is coming out of a truck while trying to accommodate a massive festival crowd, my burger was cooked perfectly medium without me even having requested such. It was juicy and delicious, showing that the crew running this truck has gotten handling long lines down to a science. Plus, they take credit/debit cards, so you can save the rest of your cash for an overpriced $12 can of Miller Lite! They also offer hot dogs, hoagies, fries, mac & cheese and grilled Mexican-style street corn.

Next, Boot & Saddle, a revived musical institution on South Broad Street catering to the indie and local music scene- with the occasional big name act on the bill (check out the events calendar for upcoming shows). With a solid craft beer selection and a menu created by George Sabatino, it sure beats your average dive bar fare of peanuts and PBR. The burger here is topped with smoked gouda, chili relish and braised pork belly (!).  My only issue with the burger itself were that I wished there had been perhaps a glaze or sauce to accompany the pork belly; the chili relish didn’t really add anything to the burger and the single piece of lettuce underneath just seemed out of place. It was also paired with a house-made ketchup that was far too citrus-y to use for dipping, although I did add a little on one bite of the burger to try and give the pork belly some more flavor. Otherwise it was perfectly cooked to medium as requested, another rarity you might not find in a dive bar.

 

Burger Ratings:

Festival Pier “A”

Boot & Saddle “B-“

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Some friends wanted to play Quizzo this week and since two of us live Roxborough/East Falls area, we were able to convince the other “City Folk” to take the train out to our turf. We found ourselves at Billy Murphy’s Irish Saloon, just blocks from the East Falls SEPTA Regional Rail station. We also found out it was $4 burger night! The burger is an Angus patty topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo and onion on a Le Bus roll. My friend asked the waitress if the onion was raw or cooked (I hate raw onion and normally just pick it off if it comes on a burger). She said it was raw but if we wanted, they could cook it. GAME CHANGER! Of course I wanted my onion cooked.

The burger came out pretty quickly since we beat the pre-Quizzo crowd. It was simple, no frills bar burger. The bun – a Le Bus Brioche – was slightly larger than the patty, but luckily not by much. The burger was cooked past my requested medium to almost well done, but it wasn’t bad; the Angus meat still had a nice flavor to it. I ordered a side of onion rings and slapped one of those bad boys on top of the burger, which really amplified the taste and gave it a nice little crunch. It was certainly better than the burger I had last week, and a steal at only four bucks! If it was cooked perfectly, I could definitely see this being my go-to neighborhood burger. Guess I’ll just have to try it again when we go back for Quizzo next week!

Burger rating: “B”

Waving The White Flag

I haven’t eaten many burgers on the University City/West Philly side of the city, mostly because the options are limited to fast-casual chains that I’ve already eaten at or bars where college kids hang out that also happen to serve food. However, White Dog Cafe seemed promising, as their farm-to-table, locally sourced menu seemed to cater to something other than the Bud Light & chicken wings crowd. Coming in for happy hour, I went with the double cheddar burger – a patty made of meat from Green Meadow Farm in Lancaster – which came topped with grilled red onion, tomato, lettuce and smoked bacon mayo.

The presentation was unique and the burger patty was perfectly proportional to the bun. It was requested medium and was perfectly pink upon first bite. However, it was all downhill from here. The bun had gotten incredibly soggy as a result of the run-off from the patty, despite putting the lettuce underneath it to act as a kind of ‘diaper’. I quickly started to run out of bottom bun as I tried to rectifying the soggy bottom situation. The cheese and the bacon mayo were completely tasteless. The burger had no flavor, wait, scratch that – the burger tasted almost watery and while pink in the middle grew increasingly colder and less edible with each bite. I eventually became so disgusted by the watery taste that I took the lettuce & tomato off in case they were contributing to the weird flavor. They weren’t. That, combined with the incredibly unwelcoming service I received from the staff (which I won’t get into here, as this isn’t Yelp), I didn’t even want to finish the burger. But I eventually did, grabbed the check as quickly as I could, and bolted. I’m just glad that I only paid $10 for this burger rather than the hefty $17 dinner menu price tag. It certainly doesn’t make me excited about eating on that side of the river anytime soon (that is, unless I’m getting Spotburger).

I just don’t seem to have much luck at places with “Dog” in the name, it seems – maybe it’s because I’m a cat person?

Burger rating: “D-“

a.Pretty Good Burger

A few weeks ago, some friends & I stopped into High Street on Market for brunch where the menu is crafted by one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs, Eli Kulp. We loved the sandwiches and pastries there so much that we made this month’s brunch stop at a.Kitchen, where Chef Kulp recently took over the menu this past spring. Naturally I was excited to try the burger on the brunch menu: a Creekstone Farms Black Angus patty topped with cave-aged cheddar, mayo and pickles on a house-made sesame bun.

The presentation looked amazing. I almost asked for ketchup for the potatoes, but they were so soft and perfectly seasoned, I didn’t even need it. The burger patty was thick and proportional to the bun. My only complaint was that when I picked the burger up, the bottom of the bun was very soggy (luckily, the bottom bun was also pretty thick so it didn’t fall apart). The meat was juicy and flavorful, despite being cooked slightly more medium-well than medium (one of my friends also ordered the burger & got hers prepared medium-rare, and it was plenty red inside). The cave-aged cheddar paired well with the house mayo, giving the burger a good, tangy flavor, and the pickles added some sweetness and crunch. The quality of the meat and freshness of the ingredients definitely made it a solid brunch selection. Even though the patty was a pretty hefty size, it didn’t leave me feeling super stuffed or weighed down like some bar burgers tend to do – which means you’ll have plenty of room for some of their delicious, house-baked pastries as well.

Chef Kulp just added a more bar-esque version of the burger to the menu next door at a.Bar, so I will definitely have to go back and check that one out, too!

Burger rating: “B+”

All Hail The King

The Good King Tavern opened a few months ago off South Street (in the old Chick’s cafe space) with a focus on a casual, French inspired menu. Normally I’m not the type of person who goes to a restaurant that specializes in a particular cuisine and orders the random burger on the menu, but this week, I made an exception, trying the TGK burger – topped with bacon, Emmental cheese, lettuce & tomato on a seeded brioche bun, served with a side of rouille. I was delighted when placing my order to find that the burger only comes cooked medium, but also nervous: if this is how they cook all their burgers, there’s no chance they’ll mess it up, right? (Spoiler alert: They didn’t!)

Once the burger arrived, I could see why the burgers were all cooked to medium. The patty was very wide and thin, kind of like the patties over at The Industry, which means that they cook fast to get that nice, pink center. The brioche bun was soft and buttery, holding up well with each bite, even with a little bloody run-off from the burger. The meat was flavorful and the patty was perfectly proportional to the bun. The bacon could have been a little crispier, but otherwise I couldn’t complain. Topped with sliced roma tomatoes and bibb lettuce, it resembled many of the burgers that I like to make at home. I think I was most excited about it being the correct temperature and finding pink in every bite I took that made the overall burger eating experience the most enjoyable I’ve had in a while. I’m glad I decided to check it out, even if it was one of the least French things on the menu (think they’ll let me add escargots as a topping next time?).

Burger rating: “B”

Perfecting the Kraft

A friend of mine had been hyping up the burger at Kraftwork for a while now, so I decided it was finally time to check it out (lest I get nagged continuously). It’s not like I’ve never been to Kraftwork before. It’s the starting point for the twice yearly Craft Beer Express and they’ve always got a pretty solid draft list; I’ve just never had a chance to eat here until now. The burger is touted as being a special dry aged blend and comes customizable with an assortment of toppings for 50 cents a pop (lettuce, pickles and one topping are included). I opted to top mine with sharp cheddar and bacon red onion marmalade. You also get a choice of either garlic herbed fries or a mixed green salad as your side. I was planning on partaking in Hot Diggity‘s Fourth of July corn dog special later that day and was saving my deep fried food intake for that, so I went with the salad (who am I?!).

The burger came out with a nice presentation: patty situated on top of the pickles and lettuce, fairly proportional to the bun. However, when I picked it up, that’s when things fell apart – literally. A lot of grease came dripping off the back of the burger and the meat started to separate slightly after my first bite. It was also cooked more on the medium-well side then my usual requested medium. Thankfully the grease didn’t make the bun too soggy (probably thanks to the lettuce/pickle “diaper”), but I did have to compensate for the patty coming apart and leaving behind excess bun by eating around the burger instead of head-on. The pickles gave the burger a little bit of crunch and sweetness, as did the bacon-onion marmalade, but there wasn’t a lot of flavor otherwise.

After I’d finished, I overheard some people at the table next to me debating who had the best burger in the area; one guy said it used to be this one but now he was leaning towards Interstate Draft House. Maybe I just waited too long to try this burger? I guess next time I’ll listen to my friends and check things out sooner!

Burger rating: “C+”

The Vulgar Chef

Food News, Reviews, Rants, and Raves. #EatLikeShit

Life is Short. Eat hard!

Our Endless Search for Fantastic Food!

Food, Sweat, and Beers

That's what this girl's made of...

The Burgervore

- relishing life one burger at a time -

In Search of Beer

Exploring the world one pint at a time.

22nd & Philly

One Hungry Woman

bridges, burgers & beer

a gastronomical and culinary adventure in the life of a bridge engineer

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 185 other followers