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Category Archives: fries

Summer Beer Garden Series: Morgan’s Pier

Ok, so technically Morgan’s Pier isn’t a beer garden per se (and technically, I’ve already been there before), but it is outdoors and they do serve beer, so it totally counts! Not to mention, they’ve been changing up the chef lineup every year since it opened in 2012 (this year it’s being helmed by Nick Elmi of Top Chef fame), so it’s a whole new menu to try out. So how does it compare to my last visit? I started with their signature Watermelon Ricky – a 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon poured over lemon juice & watermelon puree. It’s the perfect refreshment for a hot day.

For eats, I went with the backyard burger – topped with lettuce, pickles, sharp American cheese and house sauce. You can add on coleslaw, fries or beans for an extra $3 so I said why not? The burger was only $7 (seems I’m on a bit of a downward sliding scale from my previous beer garden trips thus far).

I wasn’t asked how I wanted the burger cooked, but it came out perfectly medium; bright pink inside and perfectly juicy. It was a simple backyard burger on a potato bun – tasty and no frills. I’ll definitely have to come back with a bigger appetite to try the double stacked Pier burger that comes topped with local bacon made by 1732 meats. I would skip the fries, though. Compared to my last trip where I got a mountain of hand-cut seasoned fries for $3, these were clearly straight from a bag frozen fries (my gut totally said coleslaw, too, which proves that you should always go with your gut).

Morgan’s Pier is open 7 days a week and there’s plenty of room around the pier to hang out with your friends or fly solo and sit by the water watching the boats come in. Plus there’s Quizzo on Tuesdays, brunch on the weekends & live music pretty much every other night of the week. Even better: come on a night when the Camden Riversharks have post-game fireworks and you’ve got an amazing view!

Burger rating: “B-“

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Summer Beer Garden Series: Drury Beer Garden

It was a long, harsh winter but summer is finally here! I’m excited to spend as much time outdoors soaking in the sun and warmth as I can, and along with that, spending time in all the great outdoor spaces that have started popping up around Philadelphia in the past few years.  We sure have plenty of places to drink outside and naturally, you’re going to want to eat, too. So for the entire month of July, I’ll be highlighting the burgers around town at various beer gardens. First up: Drury Beer Garden, located behind Opa. You can either access it by heading down that sketchy alley where McGillin’s Olde Ale House is (you know the one) or through the rear door of Opa’s dining room.

 

The DBG Double Down Burger is a two handed, double decker delight: two 5 oz patties topped with house cured bacon, sharp cheddar, beer sauce & a giant tomato slice. I wasn’t asked how I wanted the burger cooked and was worried that the size of the two patties would result in their being cooked to medium-well/well done, but they came out surprisingly pink (I think due in part to the hand-formed shape of the patties). The giant tomato slice made the already large burger a little awkward to eat, but I managed my way around it. The ciabatta-like bun was thick, which was good since there was a lot of grease/meat juice runoff; the bun helped to catch a good deal of it. While the presentation looked nice, it seemed a little cumbersome serving it on the board. The seasoned, hand-cut fries started sliding off and the meat juice/grease that had run off the burger started to pool in the center. I was worried that the busser/bartender would get splashed with it when they cleared my plate! There also wasn’t any place to put condiments (I wasn’t given any and I wish I’d had some kind of aioli or ketchup to enjoy the fries with). Weird plating aside, the burger was really tasty and, paired with a Dogfish Head Festina Peche, a great way to spend a sunny afternoon!

Burger rating: “B-“

2 Fast 2 Curious

Every good burger deserves a sequel, but sometimes even not-so-great burgers get sequels, too. As a follow up to last year’s post, The Fast and the Curious, this week I visited fast-casual burger chain BurgerFi, who recently opened a location in Philly near the Pennsylvania Convention Center. BurgerFi is kind of like if Shake Shack & Five Guys had a baby: They use peanut oil on their fresh cut fries, they serve their burgers on potato rolls, they give you a buzzer while they prepare your order, and they’ve got plentiful taps pouring craft beer. They also tout themselves as serving “all natural burgers” using Angus beef and “brand” the outside of the burger bun with a charred BURGERFI stamp. I opted for the BurgerFi cheeserburger: A double natural Angus burger topped with double American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and BurgerFi® sauce.

The burger itself contains two thin double stacked patties like Five Guys and they’re on a toasted potato roll like Shake Shack. Unlike Shake Shack, the patties had a little bit of a grill-top char to them and unlike Five Guys, these burgers weren’t very juicy.  I didn’t think the Angus beef had any flavor to it, unlike the distinct profile of the La Frieda meat used at Shake Shack and the “secret sauce” was also bland and barely existent. As you can see, my burger did not carry the signature BURGERFI stamp (perhaps this is something they don’t have time for during the lunch rush?) and the cheese was barely melted. The fresh cut fries were thick and crispy – they also didn’t give you two pounds of them like Five Guys does, which can be either good or bad depending on which you prefer.

Verdict? For a burger, fries and a drink, the price point was slightly high for a fast-casual chain, coming in around just over $13 while I’ve easily only spent $10-$12 for the same items at Shake Shack & Five Guys. Between the cost and the lackluster food, I doubt I would choose this place over one of its better, tastier counterparts.

Oh, You Fancy, huh? : Burger Edition

Happy 2014! It’s a new year and we are back in the burger eatin’ saddle. I’m really looking forward to this year because I’ve got a couple of big milestones coming up. Next week, A Side of Ketchup will hit its 100th post! I am promising to make it a super special, action packed (?), burgerlicious treat, so check back for that. Also, I am turning the big 3-0 this month as well! To celebrate, I’ll be dining at the Zahav chef’s counter and will (hopefully) be able to recap all 10 amazing courses for you guys, provided I don’t slip into a food coma first. Additionally, I’m heading to Las Vegas at the end of the month for some extra celebrating and will be recapping the best burgers & other delicious delights Sin City has to offer.

So we’ve already had our first big snow storm of 2014 and what better way to have spent my snow day then lunching at Butcher & Singer. Their elusive “lunch only” burger (Monday-Friday) is probably one of the best deals in town at a mere $10.95! (That’s steakhouse quality at Five Guys prices) The burger is a whopping 10 oz Filet Mignon patty on a brioche bun, topped with English cheddar and caramelized onions. You’ve also got a little iceberg lettuce, tomato, pickles and “secret sauce” on there as well, and they give you a ton of fries. (I couldn’t even finish them all!)

The burger came out cooked perfectly medium, as I would expect from a place that makes meat temperature their main business. I loved everything about this burger. The meat was juicy and bloody, with an amazing char on the outside. The bun was thick and soft, withstanding all the drippings (although I did have to take my time eating it to ensure that I wouldn’t run out of bottom bun first). It’s a good thing that the hostess seated me in a corner where no one else had to look at me because I was destroying this bad boy! I was kind of embarrassed about the way my napkin looked afterwards, but hey, that’s what you get for serving something this amazing at a fancy, white tablecloth place, right?

Look how massive this thing is!

It was an all around excellent burger (Stephen Starr is not messing around, folks!) and definitely the right way to kick off a new year of burger eating, especially at the price point. I highly suggest – nay, I demand! – taking a long lunch break to get the Butcher Burger. Both your stomach & your wallet will thank you!

Burger Rating: “A”

Hou-la-la!

I’ve been in a New Orleans state of mind lately since it’s the setting for both Top Chef & American Horror Story this season. All those cajun flavors and accents (and these frigid Northeast temperatures!) had me longing for a little bit of the south right now. Naturally, Catahoula seemed like it would be the perfect place to satisfy these cravings. In addition to catfish po-boys and Jambalaya, they’ve also got a great lineup of Abita beers and some awesome South-ified burgers. I decided to go with the Houla burger: an Angus beef patty topped with pulled pork, cheddar & fried pickles (It’s also topped with lettuce and a huge slice of beefsteak tomato, which is hidden under the lettuce in the pic below). Their fries are seasoned with Creole spice for a little bit of a Cajun kick.

I ordered the burger medium. For being such a large patty, it had a fair amount of pink inside, bordering on medium-well while still being juicy. The outside had a great backyard BBQ grill char to it. I just love the flavor that a good char gives to a burger; it always tastes a little bit like summer. The pulled pork was sweet and succulent. I would definitely love to come back and try the pulled pork alone! The fried pickles had a great snap to them; the breading was light enough so they weren’t gross, fried soggy messes (and didn’t burn your tongue with leftover oil when you bit into them). The bun was thick and very proportional to the burger – I mean, with all those toppings, it had to be! It did a great job of holding everything together once I took out that little stick placeholder. Unfortunately, the bottom bun did start to disappear after a couple of bites since the burger was very topping heavy. I eventually flipped the burger upside down so that I could try and get rid of the top bun and get to the pulled pork & pickles faster. I managed to make it to the last few bites before the bun totally broke off, so not too shabby.

It was a beast of a burger! I was actually afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish it, but I made it and it was totally worth the food coma I experienced an hour later. Paired with an Abita Purple Haze, it almost made Front Street feel like Bourbon Street – well, until anyone opened the door, that is.

Burger rating: “B+”

Business Lunch

Working in Center City leaves you all kinds of options for lunch: fast food, fast casual, food carts, your office vending machine. But sometimes you just need a nice, relaxing sit down spot that isn’t the cafeteria or your desk. Matyson is certainly a place that fits the bill: small, upscale, and there’s no bar (It’s a BYOB) so you don’t have to explain to your boss why you’ve come back to the office smelling like a brewery. I chose Matyson for several reasons: 1) proximity to my office (a whole two blocks away!), 2) owned and operated by the same awesome team behind Cheu Noodle Bar and 3) They had a $10 burger on their lunch menu. The Matyson Burger comes topped with lettuce and tomato, but you can accessorize however you please for a few shekels more (I added cheddar to my burger for a buck), and it is paired with fries or a salad (or Parmesan truffle fries for only $2 more). When I walked inside, I was instantly hit with that sweet truffle oil smell, so clearly, I had to go with the truffle fries.

The burger came out fairly quickly, a must for us business types with limited lunch hours. The bun was a buttery brioche style, housing a fairly large patty underneath. Temperature wise, the burger was cooked medium as requested, although I prefer a little bit more of a pink center (The meat used seemed very similar to the mix that comprised Cheu’s Ramen Burger over the summer). Crisp lettuce, a nice sized tomato slice (hidden beneath the bun in the above pic) and a little sprinkle of salt & pepper gave it a very fresh taste; it was very similar to the way I cook my own burgers at home. Definitely a solid burger choice if you’re lunching downtown, and a great place to bring co-workers and business associates if it’s a “working lunch”; just make sure you tip well on the company tab!

Burger rating: “B+”

Missing the Point

Deep in the far reaches of Fishtown lies Cedar Point Bar & Kitchen. Since it’s a little bit out of the way of most things, I decided to make a day of it with a mini bar crawl through the Fishtown neighborhood, with my prize to be a burger at Cedar Point at the end. Unfortunately, all that buildup led to a burger disappointment.

The burger is a Grass-fed beef patty topped with pimiento aioli, Herdsman cheese, and caramelized onions, served on brioche bun flecked with poppy seeds.

While the presentation of the burger was great and the house-cut fries were spectacular, the burger – requested to be cooked medium – was overcooked at well done. And as I continued to eat, I quickly ran out of burger while I still had an ample amount of bun left. I really wanted to like this burger, especially after my Fishtown adventure. Maybe I will take another trip out there sometime to see if maybe it was just an off night or what; they also have a brunch burger with an egg on it that sounds tempting!

Burger rating: “C+”

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