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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Burger Throwdown: Battle of the ‘Villes

Fresh off my trip from Nashville & Louisville and ready to recap some of my burger eating action. My two competitors are Burger Up (Nashville) and Harvest (Louisville). Both restaurants focus on local farming, community and sustainability, but Burger Up’s primary focus is burgers (duh) while Harvest encompasses all aspects of farm goods & seasonal ingredients.

First up, Burger up: Since I was in the South, I opted for a burger topped with one of their classic staples, pimento cheese. The “Ramsey Pimento burger” comes topped with house made pimento cheese, pickles, red onion, and bibb lettuce. I ordered and wasn’t asked how I wanted my burger cooked; it came out on the medium-well side, slightly juicy but without any pink. I’d never had pimento cheese before because it looked gross, but it had a nice flavor. The bun was a plain hamburger bun and had a good ratio to the burger patty. There were a lot of pickles on the bottom of the burger and it came with a pickle spear. I love pickles so this was perfect! Burger Up also makes their own ketchup in house, so putting some of that on the burger gave it a good sweetness. Some house made ketchup winds up tasting too much like marinara sauce, but this was perfect.


Next, Harvest: Their burger was topped with chevre, hog jowl bacon jam, and lettuce and it was on a pretzel bun! I love pretzel buns, so I just had to have it. I ordered my burger medium; it came out somewhere between medium & medium-well (half of the burger was more pink than the other). The burger was juicy and delicious. The bun was nice and soft. The chevre paired really well, giving it a cool, fresh flavor. I’d never thought to put goat cheese on a burger before, but I really enjoyed it. The hog jowl bacon jam was tasty as well. One of our appetizers had beer cheese, so I also saved some of that and put it on the burger (because what goes better with pretzels than cheese?); it gave it a little extra cheesiness which I thoroughly enjoyed.


So, who was the winner? It was a tough call, but in the end neither of them won because I also ate a burger at Husk in Nashville which trumped them both and was quite possibly the best burger I’ve had all year! The burger is two thin patties of Double H Farms Beef, topped with gooey American cheese under a delicious house-made sesame bun. Despite the thinness of the patties, they were cooked perfectly medium. Between the cheese, the juiciness of the patties and the softness of the bun, this trumps any double stacked fast food burger you’ve ever had. It was so amazing, I seriously thought about ordering another.

If you find yourself in Nashville (or even at Husk’s sister restaurant in Charleston), make sure you stop in to Husk during lunch time, as this is the only time the burger is offered. It may quite possibly ruin any other burger you ever eat.

Burger ratings:

Burger Up: “C”

Harvest: “B-”

Husk: “A+”

National Hamburger Month

In case you didn’t know, May is National Hamburger Month. As part of the celebration, Iron Hill Brewery creates a special burger for every day in the month of May. I’ve been meaning to get to one of their locations for the past few years to check it out, but haven’t had a chance until this past weekend.

The burger listed on the day that I stopped in was the Jersey Diner burger: topped with a fried egg, cheddar, ketchup and New Jersey’s greatest export: Taylor Ham aka Pork Roll. I grew up outside New York City, so I was unfamiliar with pork roll until I moved to Philadelphia (I was also a little bit skeptical about eating it until recently). I ordered my burger medium and it came out slightly more on the medium-well side; not even a little bit of pink in the middle, despite my dining partner ordering his burger medium-rare, which was plenty pink. While I enjoy a fried egg on my burger, I kind of wished the egg had been slightly runny to give the meat a little bit more flavor and make it less dry. There was a lot of ooey, gooey cheese, which I liked. The pork roll itself was pretty tasty, with a touch of saltiness to it. The burger to bun ratio was perfect, with the burger sitting between a shiny, soft brioche bun. The coleslaw on the side was decent as well. If i had gotten a less “breakfast-y” sandwich, I might have opted to put some coleslaw on top.

I’m going out of town for the next week & a half, so I’ll only have a few days left at the end of the month if I want to try more of Iron Hill’s special Burger Month burgers (I’m upset that I’m missing out on the Yogi Bear burger – topped with all your picnic basket favorites like potato salad & onion rings). I’ll be eating my way through Nashville & Louisville and can’t wait to share with you guys all the tasty treats the South has to offer!

Burger rating: “C+”

Don’t Pass On This Pub

I’ve been to Khyber Pass Pub countless times. They’ve got an amazing craft beer selection, a Nawlins-style weekend brunch, mac & cheese that I have dreams about, and the most delicious Po’ Boys this side of the Mason-Dixon line (including an awesome Vegan “fried chicken” one!). But the one thing I hadn’t tried before was their burger – until now! The Khyber Burger consists of an Angus beef patty topped with bacon, barbeque onions, smoked cheddar & creole mustard. They also let you choose from any of their Southern-style sides. I went with onion rings since 1) a lot of places don’t usually have onion rings as an option & 2) onion rings are the best!

I apologize for the poor lighting on the photo, but it was a little dark where I was sitting & a giant Happy Hour group was blocking my outside light. The onion rings had a nice, flaky batter on them so I added a few to the top of my burger before diving in. In addition to the barbequed onions already on the burger, the onion rings added some extra sweetness and texture (this is the go-to move!). The bun was a big, shiny brioche, much like the kind used at their sister restaurant, Royal Tavern. The bacon was crispy and the Creole mustard gave the burger a nice little tang. The patty was given a perfect bar char, but unfortunately was overcooked to medium-well/almost well done. The first few bites were juicy, but it was clear the meat was holding in too much heat; I found myself needing more ketchup to cover up the dried-out taste as I continued on. The burger to bun ratio was excellent, and I never once feared it would fall apart or that I would run out of meat before bun (or vice versa).

I was a little disappointed since everything else I’ve ever eaten here has been outstanding. Maybe because they have so many other great Southern sandwiches their burger just isn’t a main focus? Or maybe it’s my own fault that I didn’t just order a Fried Mac & Cheese Po’ Boy instead! Either way, Khyber Pass Pub is worth checking out – even if you don’t try the burger.

Burger Rating: “C+”


Room for Improvement

I’ve been spending a lot of time in South Philly lately. Oh, not on the restaurant & shop filled promenade of East Passyunk Ave, but on the opposite side of Broad Street; the seemingly desolate area of the city known as South Philadelphia West. What’s even over there, you might ask? Well, it’s the slow start to what will hopefully be a new foodie paradise with places like the Mexican-Japanese fusion Cafe Con Chocolate, amazing Indonesian spot Sky Cafe and even a Vegan restaurant, Miss Rachel’s Pantry.

Also situated in the area is Taproom on 19th. While the spot was a long time neighborhood institution, the recent introduction of new owners, a new chef and a new look are helping bring craft beer and culinary delights to Girard Estate. I opted to stop by on a Monday night when their namesake Taproom burger is half-price all day: a LaFrieda Blend patty topped with butter lettuce, tomato, pickles, tap sauce and your choice of cheese. On a previous trip, I had split the burger with my dining partner so I couldn’t take a full burger analysis. This time, I had the burger all to myself.

The burger came out with a nice presentation: ample sized patty, lots of pickles, non-brioche bun. Things started to go downhill from here. The bottom bun was hard as a rock. I’m not sure if it was just over-toasted, stale, or toasted to cover up the fact that it might have been stale; it really threw me off, especially since the top bun was fine. The meat was juicy and flavorful, as one can expect from a quality meat like LaFrieda. However, the patty itself seemed to be all over the place. Ordered my usual medium, there were random spots of pink throughout instead of being consistently cooked. And while it started out thick as in the picture above, the back half of the patty seemed slightly smashed & thinned out, and began to fall apart inside the bun.

I was really disappointed since the first burger I had, while only half a patty, was rather enjoyable, well cooked and didn’t fall apart at all like the full burger did. Maybe it was just an off night? I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt because I think the place is a great addition to the still up & coming neighborhood. Hopefully next time I stop in for a burger, I’ll find better consistency.

Burger Rating: “C-“

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