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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I’ve been on a pretty bad burger streak lately. Even my trip to Vegas didn’t help! (well, ok, In ‘n’ Out burger helped a little) It left me wondering: would I ever be able to break through this burger funk? Or was I destined to let the Polar Vortex infringe on the juicy, delicious treats of months past? Thankfully, the weather thawed out this weekend, and so I ventured forth in search of a tasty burger to lift my winter blues. I decided to check out newly opened spot, The Gaslight, co-owned by Top Chef season 11 contestant and chef at Ela, Jason Cichonski. I’d had the burger at Ela before, but with a new venture comes a new possibility for burger greatness.

The burger at The Gaslight was actually the “polar” opposite of the burger at Ela: an 8oz beef patty topped with aged cheddar, creamy & spicy sauce, smoked pickles, and a seeded brioche bun. I ordered it medium – along with a cleverly named “Bieber” champagne cocktail – and waited. And waited… and waited! I started to sweat a little. The bartender noticed and brought me another drink (The “Miley” this time). A burger shouldn’t take this long, I thought to myself, but this was their opening weekend so I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. I still felt nervous; they couldn’t let me down, they just couldn’t. I needed this to be a great burger after all the previous burger bummers!

My burger arrived and the second I picked it up, juices poured out the back of it. I breathed a sigh of relief. I took a bite and saw just enough pink in the middle to satisfy me (It was more on the medium well side). The meat was tender and flavorful. We were having a burger breakthrough! The spicy cream sauce was delicious; I even dipped my fries in some of the run-off. The pickles were chopped and sprinkled on top of the patty instead of being sliced, which I liked as well. Their smokiness wasn’t overpowering and they gave the burger a nice, briny flavor. And the bun was completely proportional to the patty; I had no issues with sogginess or running out of bun too quickly. Finally, after a dry spell, I’d hit a burger home run.

I’m gearing up to do Meatless March next month (Keep me in your meat-eating prayers, guys), but The Gaslight also has a veggie burger people have been raving about, so I’ll be sure to come back and check it out.

Burger Rating: “B”

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Sinful Burgers

I’ve just touched back down in Philly from my trip to Vegas. If this blog post is any indication, clearly I didn’t win big on the penny slots – but I did hit the jackpot when it comes to eating some pretty awesome burgers!

First up: KGB – Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers – located in Harrah’s Casino. I’d never heard of Kerry Simon before, but apparently he was a contestant on Iron Chef and won, what else but a Burger Battle against Cat Cora. I checked out the Southwest Burger: An all natural beef patty, topped with avocado, cilantro, lime-marinated peppers and onions, pico de gallo, pepper jack cheese, avocado crème fraîche, all on a jalapeño-Cheddar bun. I was really impressed by the presentation and flavor of the burger. I love Tex-Mex flavors, so putting any of those ingredients on a burger gets me every time. However, all those awesome Tex-Mex ingredients quickly overwhelmed my burger once I removed the stick from the bun & it became a flaccid mess. I tried to remove some of the peppers & onions, but eventually had to concede defeats because I just couldn’t physically hold the burger anymore. My burger was cooked a little past medium into medium-well territory, but was still very juicy and tasty. [Burger Rating: C-]

Next, over at neighboring casino/hotel, The Palazzo, you’ll find I ❤ Burgers. Sounds perfect, right? I ordered their Standard burger, which is a ground Angus patty topped with lettuce, tomato & red onions. I also added cheddar & avocado for an additional $2 a piece, but my burger came out without the avocado on top. The menu states that all burgers are cooked to medium, pink throughout, unless otherwise requested, but again ended up being more on the medium-well side. The bun comes out toasted & branded with the I ❤ Burgers logo. I thought the flavor of the patty itself was tasty with a nice little bit of char, but otherwise very basic – and extremely overpriced – but hey, that’s Vegas, right?. (They also sold “I ❤ Burgers” t-shirts at their merchandise counter, so had to I got one, even if I didn’t love their burgers!) [Burger Rating: D+]

I feel like East Coasters are obsessed sometimes when it comes to all the awesome fast food chains that don’t exist on this side of the U.S., which is why I made sure to hit up a few of the most popular West Coast burger joints: Carl’s Jr and In ‘n’ Out.

At Carl’s Jr, I opted for the “Big Carl”, which is kind of a mash-up between a Big Mac & a Whopper. You’ve got your two all beef patties, special sauce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun (without the awkward middle bun you get on the Big Mac) PLUS you get the flame, charbroiled exterior on some monster sized patties. For a fast food joint, this was a pretty solid burger. [Burger Rating: B]

Lastly, what some consider to be the epitome of fast food burger greatness: I ordered a Double Double, Animal Style from In n Out, along with Animal Style fries. If you’re not familiar with In n Out’s “secret menu”, Animal Style is basically just a bunch of grilled, diced onions, cheese & Thousand Island sauce. It was fresh, delicious & absolutely amazing! (Can’t we start one of those White House petitions to get In n Out on the East Coast?) [Burger Rating: A+]

The day we arrived also just happened to be the opening of Bobby Flay’s first West Coast location of his burger joint, Bobby’s Burger Palace. Since I love BBP & have already been a bunch of times here on the East Coast, I didn’t really feel the need to eat there (although, they did introduce 2 new burgers – themed for Las Vegas & New Mexico – as well as added their Brunch Burger to their menu full time). However, we did stop buy and grab some of BBP’s famous Frozen Pear margaritas in their new BBP To Go Margarita Bar – and I’m glad we did, because Bobby Flay was there hanging out & filming promo stuff. He walked right past us when we were sitting down. I was so starstruck! Here’s a creep shot I took of B.Flay from my seat:

Nearly every hotel on the strip has it’s own gourmet burger bistro, so there’s no limit to all the burger deliciousness you could be having in Sin City. The only problem you’ll find yourself having is that there aren’t enough hours in a day – or room in your stomach – to eat them all!

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