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Category Archives: Manayunk

Burger Not So Ugly

I’ve been living around the corner from The Ugly Moose in Manayunk for over four years now but just ventured in for the first time this week to check out their burger. I could have kicked myself for not coming in here sooner. Touting themselves a “Canadian-American pub” on their website, the place has a cozy, ski lodge vibe and an amazing craft draft and bottle list (before you ask, yes, they have poutine!). With a variety of burgers on the menu, I opted for the Ayr-Back Farms burger: topped with locally made, organic cheddar cheese, Applewood smoked bacon as well as lettuce, tomato, red onion.

While the burger itself was pretty standard, I was surprised at how fresh and delicious the cheese was. Some cheeses tend to loose their flavor when they melt, but not this one. It added a great flavor to the burger, which was cooked perfectly medium as requested. The Applewood bacon was crispy without being stringy and the smokiness wasn’t over-powering. Who knew this hidden gem (and I mean that quite literally, as the Ugly Moose is in a shared off-street space on Shurs Lane called “The Garage”, also home to Deke’s BBQ) was just a few blocks away?

Burger rating: “B+”

 

 

Beast Of A Burger

Last week I talked about how the “death” of Tria in University City gave birth to The Fat Ham. In the same vein, another of my previously reviewed spots that has since closed, Bisou Bistro, has given birth to this week’s burger at Beast & Ale in Manayunk. Beast & Ale is operated by the same wonderful crew that owns the Feliz trio of restaurants (Cantina Feliz in Fort Washington (Montgomery County), La Calaca Feliz in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood, & Taqueria Feliz, also in Manayunk). Venturing away from the Mexican food realm, Beast & Ale serves up more pub-style, “greasy spoon” fare including a double decker “Beast Burger”: two quarter-pound patties topped with dijonnaise, American cheese, red onion, lettuce and pickles underneath a brioche bun. If you’re not feeling so beastly, you can get a single patty “Baby Beast” version of the burger, and there’s even a special section of “fixin’s” you can add on for an additional charge. While the burger comes paired with a mixed greens salad, you can substitute fries for $1 – and let’s face it, you’ll want to substitute fries!

I ordered the basic version of the Beast Burger. I wasn’t asked how I wanted my burger cooked, but that was to be expected since the patties are pretty thin. They came out cooked at around medium, and were still nice and juicy considering their size. The bun was a little bit too large for the width of the individual patties, but considering they were double stacked, I only found myself with one or two bun-only bites at the end. And with all the gooey cheese on each patty and meat juices, the bun certainly stood up to the challenge. I didn’t start to notice the dijonaisse flavor until my last few bites of the burger, but it didn’t really add or take away from the overall flavor of the burger itself. This burger was definitely a tastier treat then the spot’s predecessor and a fine addition to Main Street Manayunk.

Burger rating: “B”

The Eagle Has Landed

Manayunk is a great neighborhood in Philadelphia for eating and drinking. In fact, the word Manayunk itself comes from the Lenape Indian word for river – Manaiung – which literally means “a place to drink”. Most people only associate Manayunk with the long stretch of restaurants and bars lining Main Street, but there are lots of hidden gems up in the hills as well if you’re willing to make the trek. Luckily, I live at the top of the hill, so navigating my way to the Old Eagle Tavern this week wasn’t so hard on the knees. While from the outside it may look like your typical neighborhood “Old Man Bar”, inside it – well, ok, it kind of looks like your typical neighborhood Old Man Bar – but without the musty smell or smoke-filled air. The draft list and menu are also a far cry from what your Uncle in the suburbs is probably sitting around looking at as well, as the place is owned & operated by the same folks who run Devil’s Den and the Barren Hill Tavern & Brewery. Since I’d given the burger at Devil’s Den a try before, I figured I’d see what the Old Eagle Tavern had to offer.

The burger was a simple, no-frills bar burger, topped with cheddar, red onion, bibb lettuce, a HUGE slice of a beefsteak tomato & pickle slices. I ordered the burger medium & it was cooked perfectly pink all the way through, with a nice grilled char on the outside. The patty was a little on the small side, so I was worried that I would run out of meat before I ran out of bun, but I somehow managed to make it through to the end with a good burger to bun ratio left. I think it may have had to do with the bun being super light and airy. I got a lot of bread in the first few bites, but it wasn’t as bread-heavy as some other buns so it didn’t make me feel too full; I was happy about that. All in all, it was a really nice, solid bar burger. Paired with a beer list that includes gems like Weyerbacher’s Heresy & Barren Hill’s own Biere de Extra, this definitely ain’t your Uncle’s local watering hole. I’m just upset that this place has been in my neighborhood all this time and I only just found out about it!

Burger Rating: “B”

Sunnyside Up

I know I’ve had my issues with brunch in the past, but Sunday mornings are quickly becoming my favorite part of the week. I mean, what’s not to love about brunch?! A whole menu full of both sweet and savory foods plus a socially acceptable atmosphere in which to get completely wasted before noon? It’s a beautiful thing! This time, I decided to keep it local and check out Derek’s in Manayunk so I could sample their brunch burger: a 1/2 pound prime sirloin patty topped with a fried egg and bacon (plus the option to add cheese for $1 more; I went with cheddar).

In a rather bold move, I opted to order the burger mediumrareas I feared that dining outside of Center City might mean receiving a burger closer to well done if I ordered it medium (I was also splitting the burger with a friend who wanted to order the burger rare, so this was our middle ground). The burger did come out pleasantly pink inside, somewhere between medium-rare and medium, much to my surprise and delight. When the burger arrived, the bun was doing a little wiggle as it floated on top of the poached egg underneath. It was pretty cute; kind of like when Jell-o jiggles! The bacon was thick and crispy and the bun soaked up all the juices of both the meat and egg yolk quite nicely. It was a tasty burger, but nothing spectacular. And as far as burgers I’ve had that were topped with fried eggs & bacon, it was certainly no Cyclops from Sketch Burger. But if you happen to be in Manayunk during the Sunday brunching hour, I would definitely check it out. (Oh, and did I mention Derek’s offers $2.50 mimosas?)

Burger rating: “C+”

The Bearded Burger

I got a tip from a friend that I should check out a burger in my neighborhood this week at The Goat’s Beard, which just opened up on Main Street in Manayunk a few months. It was already on my “to eat” list, but since it was given such a good recommendation, I decided to bump it up to priority status. The “Goat Burger”, as it was billed on my tab, does not contain any actual goat but is an 8 oz beef patty topped with pepper jack, caramelized onions, and bacon on a brioche bun.

I ordered the burger medium, as per usual, and it came out perfectly pink inside. Unfortunately, after the first few bites, things started to go downhill.

I found myself quickly running out of bottom bun. Then, the cheese & bacon started sliding out of the rear. Finally, and this was the saddest part of all, the meat just completely started splitting apart from the formed patty shape; I wound up tearing the remaining bun into 2 parts and eating each burger piece individually. I really wanted to like this burger, but there’s just no excuse for a patty that isn’t formed solidly enough and just starts falling apart mid-bite.

Burger rating: “B-” (would probably have gotten a solid “B” had it stayed in one piece.)

A little bit of love for Bisou

I very rarely venture out into my own neighborhood, but I decided to keep it close to home and head out the recently revamped Bisou (formerly Gemelli) on Main Street in Manayunk. Switching things up from their previous incarnation, Bisou has gone bistro – and put a burger made with La Frieda meat on it’s menu (the key to my heart!). The burger is also topped with aged cheddar, caramelized onions, and a house special sauce all underneath – surprisingly – NOT a brioche bun! (For which I was most grateful.)

I ordered my burger medium and despite being one of the few diners in the restaurant, my burger was cooked to almost medium well. Thanks to the magical La Frieda meat however, my burger was still nice and juicy – even though I do like it a little more pink. The caramelized onions also gave the burger a nice flavor. (I wish that was a topping choice at more places. I’ve gotten them on a burger at London Grill in the past as well and it was equally delicious.) And the bun was nice and soft and slightly toasted. Paired with a Hell or High Watermelon, this burger was definitely a nice treat on a warm day.

Bisou also has lots of other great menu items, plus jars of macerated fruits hanging out behind the bar to mix into some refreshing margaritas or mojitos. So don’t be scared to head out of the comfort zone of Center City! Manayunk’s just a train ride away.

Burger rating: “C+”

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