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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Burger, Reborn

I’d been meaning to check out Resurrection Ale House for quite some time. (And ironically, while completely unplanned and without Religious affiliation, I found myself venturing in just a few days after Easter.) Resurrection Ale House is tucked into the elbow of Philadelphia known as Grey’s Ferry and is brought to you by the same lovely folks who run Strangelove’s & Memphis Taproom. This burger however varies slightly from their previously sampled siblings, coming topped with cheddar, caramelized onions and bibb lettuce all tucked under a challah bun. You can add bacon for a $1, but as I had bacon on both the Strangelove’s & Memphis burgers, I figured I’d keep it simple this time.

While other places that I’ve ordered similar burgers from haven’t appeared to take their time when it comes to caramelizing onions, these were spot-on: dark brown and gooey, like a good caramelized onion should be. The burger was cooked perfectly medium, and the meat was juicy and flavorful. The challah bun gave it a soft, buttery balance and the bibb lettuce literally became like a bib, holding back the meat drippings. The patty was big and thick and had a good burger-to-bun ratio; I only had about one final bite at the end where I had run out of meat. I was definitely pleased that this burger carried the same “genes” as its burger brethren. Being able to find consistency at three separate locations in three different areas of the city is quite a feat! I can’t wait to try the burger at their fourth location in West Philly – Local 44 – and see if it matches the rest, or if it’s the black sheep of the family.

Burger rating: “B+”

2 Fast 2 Curious

Every good burger deserves a sequel, but sometimes even not-so-great burgers get sequels, too. As a follow up to last year’s post, The Fast and the Curious, this week I visited fast-casual burger chain BurgerFi, who recently opened a location in Philly near the Pennsylvania Convention Center. BurgerFi is kind of like if Shake Shack & Five Guys had a baby: They use peanut oil on their fresh cut fries, they serve their burgers on potato rolls, they give you a buzzer while they prepare your order, and they’ve got plentiful taps pouring craft beer. They also tout themselves as serving “all natural burgers” using Angus beef and “brand” the outside of the burger bun with a charred BURGERFI stamp. I opted for the BurgerFi cheeserburger: A double natural Angus burger topped with double American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and BurgerFi® sauce.

The burger itself contains two thin double stacked patties like Five Guys and they’re on a toasted potato roll like Shake Shack. Unlike Shake Shack, the patties had a little bit of a grill-top char to them and unlike Five Guys, these burgers weren’t very juicy.  I didn’t think the Angus beef had any flavor to it, unlike the distinct profile of the La Frieda meat used at Shake Shack and the “secret sauce” was also bland and barely existent. As you can see, my burger did not carry the signature BURGERFI stamp (perhaps this is something they don’t have time for during the lunch rush?) and the cheese was barely melted. The fresh cut fries were thick and crispy – they also didn’t give you two pounds of them like Five Guys does, which can be either good or bad depending on which you prefer.

Verdict? For a burger, fries and a drink, the price point was slightly high for a fast-casual chain, coming in around just over $13 while I’ve easily only spent $10-$12 for the same items at Shake Shack & Five Guys. Between the cost and the lackluster food, I doubt I would choose this place over one of its better, tastier counterparts.

The Eagle Has Landed

Manayunk is a great neighborhood in Philadelphia for eating and drinking. In fact, the word Manayunk itself comes from the Lenape Indian word for river – Manaiung – which literally means “a place to drink”. Most people only associate Manayunk with the long stretch of restaurants and bars lining Main Street, but there are lots of hidden gems up in the hills as well if you’re willing to make the trek. Luckily, I live at the top of the hill, so navigating my way to the Old Eagle Tavern this week wasn’t so hard on the knees. While from the outside it may look like your typical neighborhood “Old Man Bar”, inside it – well, ok, it kind of looks like your typical neighborhood Old Man Bar – but without the musty smell or smoke-filled air. The draft list and menu are also a far cry from what your Uncle in the suburbs is probably sitting around looking at as well, as the place is owned & operated by the same folks who run Devil’s Den and the Barren Hill Tavern & Brewery. Since I’d given the burger at Devil’s Den a try before, I figured I’d see what the Old Eagle Tavern had to offer.

The burger was a simple, no-frills bar burger, topped with cheddar, red onion, bibb lettuce, a HUGE slice of a beefsteak tomato & pickle slices. I ordered the burger medium & it was cooked perfectly pink all the way through, with a nice grilled char on the outside. The patty was a little on the small side, so I was worried that I would run out of meat before I ran out of bun, but I somehow managed to make it through to the end with a good burger to bun ratio left. I think it may have had to do with the bun being super light and airy. I got a lot of bread in the first few bites, but it wasn’t as bread-heavy as some other buns so it didn’t make me feel too full; I was happy about that. All in all, it was a really nice, solid bar burger. Paired with a beer list that includes gems like Weyerbacher’s Heresy & Barren Hill’s own Biere de Extra, this definitely ain’t your Uncle’s local watering hole. I’m just upset that this place has been in my neighborhood all this time and I only just found out about it!

Burger Rating: “B”

Out on a Limb

This winter was brutal but thankfully, Spring has finally sprung! Thanks to this weather warmup, I can finally venture further out in the city once more – or perhaps I should say “branch out” – as this week’s adventure took me to Bourbon & Branch in Northern Liberties. Formerly an old neighborhood bar called Liberties, the space has been slightly updated while also keeping a kitschy & old timey feel (ie. bartenders with curled mustaches, cocktail menus pasted into the pages children’s books). The menu is pretty meat-heavy, as bar food can tend to be. I opted for a make-your-own burger option, upgraded to two 5 oz. patties instead of one, and topped with cheddar.

The menu states that the burger comes with lettuce, tomato & onion but my burger came out completely bare. I was really disappointed. I mean, look how sad all that meat looks alone on the bun! Even though I was asked my temperature preference, because I knew the patties would be so small I wasn’t expecting them to be medium/pink inside. They were still moist & flavorful, but I think I would have enjoyed the burger more with some kind of vegetable buffer. Normally, I would have felt food shame eating such a pile of meat by itself, but my dining companion had me beat; he ordered a 4-piece fried chicken platter with bacon mac & cheese! (We’re convinced a busser came by & asked if he could wrap up the rest of the food because he wanted to prevent my friend from having a heart attack.) The bun was soft and slightly buttery, and since there wasn’t any drippage from the meat, I didn’t have to worry about a soggy bottom.

Speaking of bottoms, Bourbon & Branch also plays host every first Wednesday of the month to the Beauty & Brains Burlesque & Variety show! The food may not have been so hot, but the lovely ladies (and gent!) performing upstairs certainly were!

Burger rating: “C-“

Fishing for a Good Burger

Very rarely do I find myself in South Jersey, but on a particular adventure one Friday night to Wegman’s, we decided to stop at recently opened Cherry Hill outpost of The Farm & Fisherman. The Philly spot is a small BYOB, while this suburban destination boasts both a Tavern and Marketplace. We opted to sit at the bar since we just wanted something quick, and obviously I had to try their Colonial Burger: a blend of Wyebrook grass-fed beef and Heritage pork belly, topped with Jersey cheese and malt mayo.

While the presentation was nice, I was very disappointed. The ciabatta bun was nice and soft, but way too big for the size of the burger patty. The burger was requested medium and completely overcooked. I had hoped that the blend of beef and pork would give it a nice, succulent flavor and be really juicy, but it was totally dry and almost painful to eat without lots of mayo and ketchup. The shredded iceberg lettuce topping also seemed really awkward and too fast-food like for this venue.

I had originally wanted to try their other burger, The Industrial, which is a dry-aged brisket patty topped with cheddar cheese and onion jam, but thought the pork belly blend would be interesting. Next time, I’ll stick with my gut.

Burger Rating: “C”

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