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Category Archives: CT

Prime Time

The best part about going home to visit my parents is getting to try new burgers in new places. This trip took us to craft beer & burger joint, Prime 16 in Orange, CT. As our waiter informed us, the kitchen is entirely a scratch kitchen – everything from their sauces to their dressings and in between. They also partner with local farms and businesses for all the other products (meat, veggies, beers), and the beef used in the burgers in 100% grass-fed, hormone-free Angus beef. There were so many different burger varieties, it was hard to decide which one to choose! But I went with the Cowboy: topped with cheddar, smoked Canadian bacon, lettuce & a fried egg since this was the closest to my usual go-to burger. I also upgraded to truffle fries because, truffle fries, duh!

The burger was massive and came on an equally massive (but proportional) potato roll. The burger was nice and juicy, albeit cooked slightly over my requested medium to medium well. The cheddar was gooey and the fried egg was just undercooked enough to let a little bit of yolk mingle in with the meat without making a big mess. The Canadian bacon was tasty and not chewy, as it can sometimes tend to be (like on an Egg McMuffin). You could definitely taste the freshness of the meat. I really appreciate when a restaurant sources their meat locally, using fresh instead of frozen patties. It really makes a big difference! The lettuce underneath the burger acted kind of like a “diaper” to soak up the juices, avoiding that dreaded soggy bottom bun. My only issues were 1) the side of pico de gallo which seemed out of place with the rest of the toppings, so I didn’t utilize it and 2) the truffle fries weren’t nearly as truffle-y as I would have liked, but probably for the best since some places tend to overload the truffle oil and then you can’t taste anything else. There was also a bacon STUFFED burger on the menu that I was checking out, so I’ll have to make another trip home soon to check it out!

Burger rating: “B”

On a Roll

Growing up along the Long Island Sound, lobster rolls were a quintessential part of summer, right along with backyard BBQs and getting an ice cream cone from Mister Softee. I mean, my parents even moved to the birthplace of the lobster roll when I graduated college. So when I moved south and inland to Philadelphia, I was hit with sticker shock at a variety of restaurants who were pricing my favorite summer treat at nearly $20 or over! And they weren’t even the delicious, Connecticut-style kind. They were gross, mayo-laced New England atrocities. (Seriously guys, mayo and seafood is a terrible combination!) How was a girl to get her fix of warm, buttered crustacean on a bun?

Well, luckily, Luke’s Lobster heard my pleas and opened up shop in Philadelphia just a few months ago. For a mere $15, you can get your taste of Maine’s greatest export. Plus add a bag of chips & a soda for only $2!

Just when I thought summer couldn’t get any better, my favorite food truck, Spotburgers, brought back their much anticipated lobster roll special from last summer (which sold out within minutes whenever it was on the menu). For only TEN AMERICAN DOLLARS you got a whopping 6 oz of lobster with a little tomato & corn garnish, plus a side a fries. That was an even slicker deal then Luke’s! (and much tastier!)

And then, Johnny Brenda’s threw a clambake bash and put a NINE DOLLAR lobster roll on their menu! $9. It was unheard of! Oh sure, it didn’t come with fries, but I could drink a beer while enjoying it and that was good enough for me. Throw in a side of coleslaw, some pickles & a little lemon mayo and it was the perfect summer treat.

Now the Spot lobster roll is a special, so you’ll want to watch their Twitter feed (linked above) to find out where and when it’s popping up next. But for the best bargain lobster roll in town, head over to Luke’s Lobster on 17th & Sansom any time. (Plus, they even deliver after 5 PM, so you don’t even have to leave the house to get it!)

Make Plan B Burger your Plan A

Every now and again when I’m visiting my parents, I’m able to convince them that we should go out to eat – and they never go out to eat (eating out was pretty much a luxury when I was growing up). We’d been wanting to check out this burger place that had opened near their house last year, Plan B Burger Bar, which currently has six locations in Connecticut but are planning on expanding to Atlanta, DC, Chicago & Boston according to their website. On top of having an array of fancy burgers on the menu, there’s also a pretty extensive beer list (including big bottles and mini kegs) and bourbon list (Pappy Van Winkle 20 year for only $29.50! I was totally tempted to get some, but my parents would have flipped at a drink that cost half of our entire meal).

You’re only given two options for how you want your burger done: some pink or no pink, as their burgers are made from 100% fresh, wet-aged ground chuck that is hand-ground daily. I ordered my with some pink, and opted for the Baja burger – which comes topped with avocado, tomato, jack cheese, lettuce, jalapenos and a chipotle spread. I asked for no jalapenos because I am a big wimp when it comes to hot/spicy things. My dad got “The Squeeler” – which only comes “no pink”, as the meat is a mixture of 1/2 pork, 1/2 beef, and my mom opted for the 3 Shrooms, topped with sauteed mushrooms and a portabella spread. They also opted to upgrade to a pretzel bun, while I stuck with a standard, kaiser-style roll.

The burger came with a side of fries and a pickle, but there were also almost a dozen other sides you could choose from for an extra charge, ranging from onion rings to disco fries. (The table next to us got onion rings; they came stacked like a tower and looked so amazing!) The burger itself was pretty tasty, nice and fresh. And you could tell the meat had just been hand ground – the patty was kind of misshaped, and grilled what seems similar to Smashburger style as it wasn’t hand-formed and packed like most patties. This also meant that as I kept eating, pieces of my burger would fall off onto my plate, but the bun kept everything else inside nice and intact.

Just as I was nearing the end of my delicious burger adventure, I took a bite and my mouth was on fire! Yes, they’d held the jalapenos but I’d forgotten about the chipotle spread. I guess I had just assumed it would be some kind of zesty, chipotle mayo kind of topping but I was wrong! I chugged my water and my beer, trying to ease the pain. My poor tongue was burning up!  However, this gave me an opportunity to try some of my dad’s burger (which was very tasty and reminded me of the bacon burger at Royal Tavern that I had a few months back, and the pretzel bun was nice and soft) and I let my mom have the final bite of my “inferno meat” since she’d been upset that she couldn’t add “something with heat” to her burger as a topping (She definitely enjoyed the chipotle spread much more than I did).

The rest of the menu features a variety of beef, veggie and chicken burgers and even a burger flight with salmon, beef and chicken sliders.  There’s so many great combinations that it makes me want to find excuses to go home again and try them all! And you should too if you ever find yourself in the Nutmeg State!

Burger Rating: “B”

If this Shack’s a rockin’

If you’re unfamiliar with Shake Shack, it’s a rapidly growing chain of fast-casual burger joints with origins beginning in NYC’s Madison Square Park, where there was literally just a shack that served burgers, shakes and fries. It has since amassed 6 NY locations (Including the Mets’ own Citi Field), South Beach/Miami, 2 locations in the DC area, Westport, CT and even overseas in Dubai and Kuwait!  

Most recently, Philadelphia got it’s very first on the corner of 20th and Sansom, leading to long lines of eager Philadelphians looking to get their very first taste of a Shackburger. (The comparable option up until this point had been Squareburger in Franklin Square, which you’ll recall I was not happy with upon my visit.) Seating was limited when I went, but they are supposed to be opening up outdoor, cafe style seating soon!

I myself braved the line on a Saturday afternoon after their opening, a line which surprisingly moved pretty quickly. Of course, once you’ve ordered, you still have to actually wait for your food, and so each patron is given a little buzzer device that vibrates and flashes to let them know to come on up to the Shack! 

I saved you guys the trouble of going and ate all the things!

Normally, I wouldn’t be such a glutton, but on Saturdays, the special custard of the day “Coffee & Donuts” contains donuts from Federal Donuts – so I basically had to do it, right? 

“MMMMM – Donut.” – Homer Simpson
Another Philly exclusive for Shake Shack is the Smoke Shack Burger, the first burger at any of the Shake Shack locations to ever be topped with applewood bacon! (Also comes topped with cherry pepper relish and shack sauce.) I thought the peppers gave it a nice little kick & the bacon was delicious!
Peppers playing Peek-a-Boo!
But this wasn’t my only Shake Shack visit in recent weeks; I’d also stopped at the Westport, CT location on my way home. It’s HUGE compared to the Philly location! (But I guess that’s one of the benefits of being in the middle of Suburban CT) 
  Plus this awesome sign out front gives it the ol’ road side burger joint feel.
I just stuck with the basics. I don’t recall the shack sauce being quite as ZINGY! on my first visit to the UES location, and not even so much present on the Smoke Shack burger, but BOY OH BOY! My allergies had been stuffing me up all week and this really cleared me up! They must’ve put extra horseradish or something because it was a doozy! 

Oh yeah, you can totally see all that sauce!

Now if Philly can just get a few better pizza & bagel joints, a more extensive subway system, a baseball team with a higher payroll and a Uniqlo, I might never wanna move! 
( Just Kidding.)
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