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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

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Pub Grub

Recently I spent my first official Labor Day weekend spent in Philadelphia since moving here three years ago. It was also the first weekend all summer that I’ve felt like I hadn’t had to be somewhere, doing something at a particular time, and I decided to maximize it by taking my favorite person to dinner Friday night: Myself. Originally I had planned on checking out Hickory Lane in Fairmount since they are no longer BYOB, but thanks to the Made in America festival re-rerouting everything in a 5 mile radius I wound up at The Dandelion instead. Their burger was just voted one of the top 10 hottest burgers in town by Zagat, so I figured I’d check it out.

Being a Stephen Starr joint, I had my reservations about its quality (and its $16 price tag). It arrived on a cool, round butcher’s block/Lazy Susan contraption with a size of hefty, hand-cut chips which are fried in beef fat. (Not fries; this is supposed to be an English pub, after all.)

After having a bunch of recent misses when ordering my burger medium and getting nearly well done, this burger was cooked perfectly to medium and the aged beef blend & buttery brioche bun kept me wanting to savor every bite. It’s also topped with some thin sliced brined pickles, bacon and sharp cheddar – plus a secret “Churchill sauce”. Usually I’ll slap a little ketchup on a burger if I think it’s too dry or flavorless; that was certainly not the case here. I could see why it was in the top 10 and now it is in my own personal top 5 burgers in Philly.

I also sampled their Cask beer flight, which at only $8 for 5 oz of three beers, you can’t go wrong. I was given a Marston’s Pedigree (an EPA), a Weyerbacher Last Chance (an IPA) and a Wychwood Hobgoblin (an ESB). I especially liked the IPA and I’m not usually a big IPA fan. All of the beers perfectly complimented my meal, as well as each other. For a nice (albeit humid) evening, it was a great way to wind down the summer.

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