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Category Archives: lunch

Fit to be Square

Everyone in Philly’s familiar with Rittenhouse Square. It’s pretty much the hub of Center City west of Broad Street. You go there to see and be seen. To dog watch, people watch, read a book, meet your friends, eat some fro-yo, take a nap, etc. But just a few blocks is a different square – Fitler Square. You’ll find the same gorgeous tree and Brownstone lined streets, but a much quieter vibe compared to Rittenhouse’s hustle & bustle. And on a gorgeous, 72 degree day in November, that’s exactly where I decided to head for lunch. Given the weather, I found it appropriate to stop into Fitler Dining Room and try their Endless Summer burger, topped with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, green pickled tomato, goddess mayo. I sat down, stripped off all the layers I’d put on when it was 45 degrees at 7:45 AM, and basked in the glory of open windows and warm sunlight while waiting for my food to arrive.

The burger arrived cooked just slightly over medium to medium-well, yet still had a lot of bloody, juicy runoff. My hostess/server joked when she seated me that the soup of the day – if I were crazy enough to order it given the day’s warmth – was tomato. Instead, the only tomato I was interested in was the pickled green one underneath the large, hand-formed patty, which gave the burger a nice, sweet crunch. The house-made bun was just slightly larger than the burger, but I only found myself with 1-2 meatless bites. The Goddess mayo was light and refreshing with herbaceous undertones that didn’t overpower the burger flavor. Endless Summer was more than just a clever moniker; it really did take me back to those warm, breezy summer days and backyard barbecues with every bite. But don’t let this summer pass you by: the burger is only available on Fitler Dining Room’s lunch & brunch menus, so get over there while the weather is still amazing!

Burger rating: “B”

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A Real “Tree-t”

It seemed like I’d all but exhausted the burger options around my job, especially those that only serve burgers during lunch. That is, until a few weeks ago when The Treemont announced that they would start a lunch service and that they would be adding a burger to that menu! So I threw my soggy salad in the trash and headed over to check out the Treemont burger, topped with short rib, smoked onion jam & Comte cheese. The burger comes with your choice of a salad or potato skins; I felt guilty over my tossed packed lunch, so I chose the salad option.

I wasn’t asked how I wanted the burger cooked, but it came out almost well done. Luckily, it was salvaged by the delicious short rib on top, which was tender and juicy. The cheese was thick and gooey. The onion jam gave the burger a nice, savory flavor without being too sweet. My favorite part might have been the bun; it had the flavor & consistency of a pretzel bun, but without the salt on top. It was well proportioned to the patty, although I did find myself with one final bite where there was only bun remaining. It was thick and helped to soak up all the runoff from the short  rib, the jam, the cheese, and what appears to be some kind of aioli smeared on the bottom bun. If this bad boy had been cooked perfectly to medium temp, it might just have gotten an A!

Burger rating: “B”

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”

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+”

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+”.

Falling in Strangelove

Strangelove’s is a beer bar that opened this past spring on 11th and Walnut. You may remember this spot in one of its previous short-lived incarnations such as the Blue Bear Tavern, The Butcher & The Brewer, or the Boilermaker. But with the masterminds behind Memphis Taproom, Local 44 & Resurrection Ale House manning the helm, it seems set to fair a lot better than its predecessors. (It already jumped to the top of my favorites list when they hosted Toshiyuki Kiuchi of Hitachino Nest beer fame during a tap takeover back in May.) While sometimes throwing in some of the familiar cast of characters on their beer list, they tend to lean towards the eclectic: rare finds, one offs and collaborations – such as their own Duet, with Manayunk brewery and WD-70, with Yards.

Naturally, I stopped in to have a burger. Their namesake Strangelove’s burger features a fried green tomato, goat cheese and a bacon BBQ sauce. I wasn’t feeling quite that adventurous, so opted for the Joe burger: lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar, pickles, mayo – and added truffle bacon.

The burgers are paired with your choice of chips, salad or coleslaw. I went with coleslaw, because what better way to eat your vegetables then to have them slathered in mayo? Unlike last week’s dilemma where I found myself quickly running out of bun, there was the perfect bun to burger ratio. The bacon was thick and crispy, but the truffle flavor wasn’t really present; possibly overwhelmed by the rest of the toppings.

The burger itself was a little more on the medium well side, probably due to the thickness of the patty (you’re definitely going to need both hands for this bad boy!), but still fairly juicy. My only regret was getting the coleslaw because there was just way too much of it (at least a full 1-cup serving). I thought about putting some of the coleslaw on top, but I think it would just sog it down. I do have another suggestion, though: If you come in for the Strangelove’s Express lunch during the week (Mon-Fri, 11:30-3PM, 2 courses for $14), try ordering the fried green tomatoes as your appetizer and put some of them on top of the burger. Boom! Now you’ve got your own mash up of both the Joe & the Strangelove’s!

Burger Rating: “B+”

Thai one on at Circles

Circles is the quintessential Thai hot spot in Philadelphia, with locations in South Philly and Northern Liberties. And in honor of the NoLibs’ location launching their new lunch menu (hmm, seems to be a new lunch trend!), they recently gave away free – yes FREE! – burgers to kick things off. Naturally, I had to be there to check it out and braving a three-day heat wave, I made my way in to Circles just before noon to try their Sai Oar burger:  Ground lamb and beef sirloin topped with fried onions, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar and served with tomatillo sauce.

The burger came out with a really cool fried tempura onion on top and a side of chips and pico de gallo. I loved the lamb/meat mix. It made the burger really juicy and succulent, and the fried egg was a great touch (because who doesn’t love a fried egg on a burger?). I love the gooey, yolky mess that you get and can soak up with the bun. There were a lot of really nice flavors throughout the whole dish, from the sweetness of the tomatillo sauce to the crisp tang of cilantro in the pico. I mean, a burger from a contemporary Asian restaurant? Who’da thunk it!?

Pair it with a Thai Iced Tea (AKA ‘that orange thing everyone’s drinking’ – said by the guy sitting next to me) and you’ve got yourself an unbeatable lunch combo!

Burger rating: “B+”

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