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Monthly Archives: February 2015

A Burger Education

Full disclosure: I’ve eaten the burger at The Institute before but I didn’t write about it. Why? Because when I did, it was a sad, overcooked, double-pattied mess that I struggled through and barely finished (which disappointed the hangover I was trying to feed).

Looks great, right? Appearances can be deceiving!

But hey, everyone has their bad days! Which is why I decided to give them a second chance nearly two years later. Checking back in this week, the burger is down to a solo 6 oz patty and comes topped with your choice of cheese. I went with cheddar, as per usual. Lettuce, tomato, onion & pickles on the side and of course, The Institute’s signature side of tots.

The burger was cooked perfectly medium; bright pink in the middle and full of juicy deliciousness. The bun was a soft brioche. Everything was perfect and no-frills, just the way a good bar burger should be. I’m glad I decided to give them a second chance. It was an extreme improvement over my first visit & might just be my new favorite burger! And if you’re checking out the Craft Beer Express this year (Saturday, March 14th), you’ll need fuel for all that drinking, so order up one of these bad boys when the bus makes it’s stop here – you won’t be disappointed.

Burger rating: “B+”

Fresh From The Farm

Being conscious of where your food comes from these days is becoming more and more important to lots of people. It’s not just about some hippie-dippie Portlandia crap, it’s about supporting small, local businesses; farmers who have been operating farms for generations. Here in Pennsylvania, that’s one of our biggest points of pride – just look at Lancaster County! And lots of restaurants these days are making it a point to partner with local farms and markets to get the best and freshest ingredients. Case in point: South Philly Taproom, who partners with Rineer Family Farms (part of the Lancaster Farmland Trust) for several items on their menu, including their burger! I’ve tried their breakfast burger before, but came back this week for the regular burger as part of an event sponsored by Daryl Rineer to showcase the farm’s products and educate patrons.

Everything about the burger was great. Even though I ordered mine medium (they only give you 3 options – rare, medium, or well), it came out on the medium-well side. Understandable as there were many people there for this particular event so cooking up a lot of burgers at once can be a challenge. I loved the thick-cut bacon on top (my dining partner didn’t even eat all of his so I had to steal more, it was so good) and the smoked cheddar. It was just an all together, tasty and well-rounded burger. And it tasted even better since I knew that the meat was coming from some place nearby and not sitting in a warehouse in god-knows-where after being pumped full of hormones and preservatives!

In addition to the burger, the chicken used for the Southern Fried Chicken, Brussels sprouts, and even the jam for the Taproom’s infamous Fried PB&J all come from Rineer Family Farms! I was also excited to learn that Rineer does a CSA, which can be picked up at several locations around the city including 12th Street Gym and the Rittenhouse Square Farmers Market. Now I can enjoy these delicious burgers right at home!

Burger rating: “B+”

Have a Heart

I headed back home recently to celebrate my birthday with my parents. And celebrate I did by eating a burger in the heart of New York City: Times Square. We decided to check out Heartland Brewery’s HB Burger which touts itself as “the only full-service burger-oriented restaurant in the Times Square area”. I opted for their standard HB burger which uses fresh ground Pat LaFreida patties and tops them with aged NY cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomato, an onion ring (!) and garlic aioli all on a brioche bun.

The burger came out medium as requested (and I should hope so if burgers are your business!). In typical LaFrieda fashion, the meat was juicy and delicious. Bacon was smoky and crisp, pairing nicely with the aged cheddar. My only complaint would be the bun. It’s no secret that brioche buns aren’t my first choice, but when done well they can be excellent. This bun was overly dry which totally threw off the great taste of all the other burger components. Oh sure, it came in handy sopping up all the meat juices, but having to take extra sips of my beer in between bites became tiresome. My mom order the crab cake burger and had the same complaint, eventually giving up on the bun entirely. Some of the other burgers are served on a potato bun, which I would have preferred but obviously wouldn’t have been able to contain all the toppings. In any case, this was still a solid burger that you can enjoy right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of NYC (without any creepy costumed characters trying to steal your fries).

Burger rating: “B”

 

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