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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Make Plan B Burger your Plan A

Every now and again when I’m visiting my parents, I’m able to convince them that we should go out to eat – and they never go out to eat (eating out was pretty much a luxury when I was growing up). We’d been wanting to check out this burger place that had opened near their house last year, Plan B Burger Bar, which currently has six locations in Connecticut but are planning on expanding to Atlanta, DC, Chicago & Boston according to their website. On top of having an array of fancy burgers on the menu, there’s also a pretty extensive beer list (including big bottles and mini kegs) and bourbon list (Pappy Van Winkle 20 year for only $29.50! I was totally tempted to get some, but my parents would have flipped at a drink that cost half of our entire meal).

You’re only given two options for how you want your burger done: some pink or no pink, as their burgers are made from 100% fresh, wet-aged ground chuck that is hand-ground daily. I ordered my with some pink, and opted for the Baja burger – which comes topped with avocado, tomato, jack cheese, lettuce, jalapenos and a chipotle spread. I asked for no jalapenos because I am a big wimp when it comes to hot/spicy things. My dad got “The Squeeler” – which only comes “no pink”, as the meat is a mixture of 1/2 pork, 1/2 beef, and my mom opted for the 3 Shrooms, topped with sauteed mushrooms and a portabella spread. They also opted to upgrade to a pretzel bun, while I stuck with a standard, kaiser-style roll.

The burger came with a side of fries and a pickle, but there were also almost a dozen other sides you could choose from for an extra charge, ranging from onion rings to disco fries. (The table next to us got onion rings; they came stacked like a tower and looked so amazing!) The burger itself was pretty tasty, nice and fresh. And you could tell the meat had just been hand ground – the patty was kind of misshaped, and grilled what seems similar to Smashburger style as it wasn’t hand-formed and packed like most patties. This also meant that as I kept eating, pieces of my burger would fall off onto my plate, but the bun kept everything else inside nice and intact.

Just as I was nearing the end of my delicious burger adventure, I took a bite and my mouth was on fire! Yes, they’d held the jalapenos but I’d forgotten about the chipotle spread. I guess I had just assumed it would be some kind of zesty, chipotle mayo kind of topping but I was wrong! I chugged my water and my beer, trying to ease the pain. My poor tongue was burning up!  However, this gave me an opportunity to try some of my dad’s burger (which was very tasty and reminded me of the bacon burger at Royal Tavern that I had a few months back, and the pretzel bun was nice and soft) and I let my mom have the final bite of my “inferno meat” since she’d been upset that she couldn’t add “something with heat” to her burger as a topping (She definitely enjoyed the chipotle spread much more than I did).

The rest of the menu features a variety of beef, veggie and chicken burgers and even a burger flight with salmon, beef and chicken sliders.  There’s so many great combinations that it makes me want to find excuses to go home again and try them all! And you should too if you ever find yourself in the Nutmeg State!

Burger Rating: “B”

Going the extra Miles

I was just planning on going home after work on a Wednesday & eating some boring leftovers when I got a tip that Miles Table (1620 South St.) makes Wednesdays their 1/2 price burger night! So I hoped on the bus and headed over. The spot is a cute, coffee shop type set up and less restaurant-y, which I kind of liked. It’s also a BYOB (keeping that in mind for next time). And aside from their Miles Burger (ground chuck, topped with lettuce, tomato & onion, your choice of cheese on a Brioche bun), they also offer up a Turkey and Falafel burger, for the health conscious & vegetarian types. Pair that with fun topping choices like avocado or a fried egg, and hand cut french fries, and you’ve got yourself a sweet mid-week meal deal. (They also take LevelUp, which I love using since paying with my phone always makes me feel like I’m in the future – or Japan.)

I ordered up the Miles burger, medium, with cheddar and avocado (because putting avocado on a burger always makes me feel like I’m being healthy, even though I’m really not). It came out pretty quickly and had a great presentation. The burger was nicely sized to the bun, which was hefty enough to soak up the juices without falling apart, and cooked perfectly. It certainly wasn’t mind blowing, but it was delicious and reasonably priced. And the atmosphere is bright, quiet and cozy, instead of some loud, stuffy bar or a crazy crowded restaurant where you’re constantly wondering where your waitress and your food are. So bring a friend and a six pack on down to South Street and get your half-priced hump day burgering on!

Burger rating: “B-“

A pretty “Gouda” burger

While spending a day out wandering around one of Philadelphia’s many spring street festivals, I decided to pop into The Cambridge, just off of Broad on South Street. I heard this place gets crazy busy at night, so I figured coming in the post-lunch/pre-dinner zone would be the right time. The bar was packed but the dining room was pretty sparse, so I grabbed a table to order up their house grind burger: dry aged beef topped with smoked gouda, lettuce, tomato and onion on a brioche bun. The service was kind of spotty, despite the fact that most of the other people still in the dining room looked like they’d already eaten. This made me worried about how my burger would turn out. But, low and behold, it came out perfectly medium! I really liked the flavor of the smoked Gouda and the bun was nice and soft, giving a good burger to bun ratio while appropriately sponging up all the juicy run-off without getting soggy.

Burger Rating: “B”

2013 Burger Brawl

I was so upset that I had to miss the Burger Brawl last year that I made sure that I did not miss it again this year! As soon as I found out, I got my tickets and waited (impatiently), plotting all the delicious burgers I was going to enjoy. In case you’re not familiar, the Burger Brawl was started in 2011 by Restauranteur Rob Wasserman of Rouge/500 Degrees fame (who I got the pleasure of meeting by accident while taking a much needed burger time-out), and the proceeds go to support local Philadelphia-area schools by constructing new technology labs. Past winners include London Grill and Bobby Flay (which just so happen to be two of my favs).

I’d already tried a handful of the competitors that were participating this year and my strategy was to cover the burger bases that I hadn’t touched on yet like Misconduct Tavern and Percy Street BBQ (whose burger topped with ham and a cured egg yolk just happened to be my favorite of the bunch).

Percy St BBQ’s burger entry

There were all kinds of burgers on display in the competition, in many different shapes and sizes. Some decided to go the “slider” (or “mini burger”, if you want to get technical) route like Rouge and 10 Arts.

Rouge “slider”

Others were grilling up full sized patties and then slicing them into halves (like Table 31) or quarters (like The Industry); a slightly better strategy and easier to get out to the masses.

Table 31’s Burger Entry

The Industry Burger

There were burgers with crazy toppings like South Philly Tap Room’s Ham-Hamburger with Scott Schroeder’s Super Ham Salad, and Silk City’s Banh Mi Burger, which on top of the Vietnamese influences, contained a layer of liver pate! (Plus they both had awesome, detailed burger illustrations!)

I made it about halfway through the burgers before I eventually gave up and decided to take a timeout for about an hour. But unfortunately by the time I was ready for Round 2, most of the burger stations left were all out of meat! Luckily, I didn’t miss too many that I hadn’t already had like Alla Spina, The Dandelion and London Grill. The one I was most disappointed about missing was George Sabatino’s burger (his station was near the entrance when I came in, but his grill wasn’t set up yet). Luckily, Morgan’s Pier re-opens this Thursday, so I’ll have all summer long to try out this crazy burger that is supposed to be dipped in liquid nitrogen and deep fried!

So who were the big winners? The People’s Choice award went to Lucky’s Last Chance of Manayunk for their Peanut Butter, Bacon & Jelly burger! (Nice to get some neighborhood pride going!) I know that combination of things on a burger sounds kind of scary, but it was actually really good – and I don’t even like jelly!

Lucky’s Last Chance

And the Judge’s Choice went to Fat Jack’s BBQ for their “Ultimate Memphis Mauler Burger” topped with… Well, just read the description below; it’s certainly a mouthful:

Ultimate Memphis Mauler Burger

My indigestion considered, the Burger Brawl was an amazing event with an even more amazing turn out. I definitely can’t wait to check it out again next year – Hopefully it will be even bigger and better! And while you’re waiting for next year’s Burger Brawl, check out the rest of this year’s awesome burger action on our new Facebook page (Don’t forget to “LIKE” us while you’re there!): Facebook.com/ASideOfKetchup

Put a Burger on it!

The pseudo-Spring strawberry salad I brought for lunch the other day didn’t look like it was going to hit the spot. Luckily, Rittenhouse Tavern just re-opened for lunch recently (Wed-Fri only) and since it’s only a few short blocks from work – plus everyone was out of the office for a training – I figured I’d extend my lunch hour a bit and finally check out their burger. The burger itself is a Pat La Frieda dry aged blend, topped with a special sauce, provolone and watercress, and sits on a soft, brioche roll.

I ordered the burger medium but it was slightly on the medium well side; no pink but still nice and juicy. The dry aged meat gave the burger a lot of flavor (plus, it’s Pat La Frieda meat so how can you go wrong?). And watercress is quickly becoming my favorite green burger topping alternative to lettuce (Bobby’s Burger Palace also uses watercress on their LA Burger).

It was a little gloomy out when I went, so the bar was completely empty. But they are planning on having their amazing backyard patio open on sunny days, so extend your lunch break and head on over to Rittenhouse Tavern to check it out.

Burger Rating: “B+”

The Vulgar Chef

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