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Category Archives: 500 degrees

The Re-visit: 500 Degrees

The last time I ate at 500 degrees I hadn’t created this site yet, even though I did make my review of the place my very first post! Since I did a revisit with the burger at London Grill after having reviewed it without posting pictures, I figured I’d go ahead & give 500 Degrees a 2nd time around as well. So, just to catch you up – 500 Degrees is owned by Rob Wasserman, who also owns Rouge in Rittenhouse Square and organizes the annual Burger Brawl. Their menu has been revamped a little bit since my first trip two years ago. I opted for “The Classic” – your choice of cheese, lettuce & tomato – cooked medium, and a side of truffle tries.

My burger was a little more on the medium well side; I’m guessing because I took it to go & it was probably still cooking in the middle on my way back to work. They’ve moved on from the super shiny brioche buns I remember from my previous trips, and the bun was nice and soft, holding up well through each bite. Crisp, fresh plum tomato slices topped the patty. The meat itself has an excellent flavor; just the right ratio of fat to lean meat to produce some juice without being bland and dried out. And considering both my burger & fries ran about $11.50 including tax (adding extra for the truffle fries), I would definitely rather spend the dough on this burger then some place like Five Guys for the same price. It was a solid, delicious, sit-down restaurant quality burger in a fraction of the time! So beat the other fast casual crowds at lunch time and check out 500 Degrees instead.

Burger rating: Previously given a “B”, upgrading to a “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

Philly’s Best Burger? Part 1: 500 Degrees

Since moving to Philadelphia a little over two years ago, I’ve done the cheesesteak thing and am decidedly over it. Every place in Philadelphia claims to make “Philly’s Best Cheesesteak”. Quite frankly, I’m partial to some Steak-Ums and a nice Italian roll made in the comfort of my own home and without all the waiting on lines, excessive grease and hours spent in the bathroom later on that evening. But what I really wanted to know was, where can I find the best BURGER in Philadelphia?

I’d read some local blogs and started doing a little research. It seems the ‘best’ burgers are all somewhere in the $14-$18 range and served at fancy, upscale restaurants. Is that what we’ve come to – backyard BBQ fare being served a ridiculous markups and touted as being ‘the best’? Eventually, I will probably make my way to some of these places. (Village Whiskey, Butcher and Singer and Pub & Kitchen, just to name a few.) But in the meantime, I’ve been checking out the low to mid-range offerings Philly has to offer and am coming up short handed. Maybe those blogs weren’t kidding after all.

One of the first places I checked out was 500 degrees, a little burger joint on Sansom St (between 16th & 17th) that touts truffle fries and thick milkshakes, as well as being owned by one of the restaurants in town with a high-end burger, Rouge. I ordered their classic burger, medium with cheddar and a side of their ‘famous’ truffle fries. I was definitely impressed. The cheddar was oozing and delicious, the burger itself succulent and with all the trimmings (lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mayo), all encompassed by a glazed brioche bun. The truffle fries definitely helped make the meal – slender and crispy and I could barely finish them all. I passed on the milkshake as I knew I’d already be full without it. I left there satisfied and confident that this burger was already ahead of the pack. However, on a follow up trip a few months later, I was disappointed. Where was the juiciness of the burger I had previously had? The brioche bun tasted stale, dry and falling apart as I ate, my meat was slightly overcooked and too much truffle oil was tossed on my fries. Overall, I would give their burgers a “B”.

I would soon come to learn that the brioche bun was not just a special treat; almost every burger place I visited after that offered a burger on a brioche bun – sometimes to compliment a juicy delicious patty but mostly just to trick you into thinking you were getting a beefy masterpiece while masking a truly terrible burger.

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