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It Takes A Village

National Burger Month has come to a close sadly, but I celebrated it the best way I knew how: by eating my 100th unique burger in Philly! I knew I had to make it a good one, so of course I chose the crown jewel of burgers: The Whiskey King at Village Whiskey – An 8 oz patty topped with maple bourbon glazed cipollini onions, Rogue bleu cheese, Applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato and – the pièce de résistance – seared Foie Gras! Check out these two beautiful glamour shots below:

The burger was cooked perfectly to medium as requested and was super juicy. Luckily the burger was sandwiched between a giant seeded bun & had a “lettuce diaper” to help restrain some of the runoff. This was definitely a two hander! I took my time with it, trying to make sure that the burger didn’t slip away from me. The bacon was crisp, the onions nice & sweet, the bleu cheese was the perfect blend of creamy, tart & salty, and the foie gras was buttery and delicious. I did eventually run out of burger and had a little bit of bun and tomato left over, but I was just proud of myself for making it through this bad boy. I almost gave up halfway through, but I persevered!

On my way inside, I noticed this sign for the Better Burger Project, a challenge on behalf of the James Beard Foundation, encouraging restaurants to create a more delicious, healthy & sustainable burger by blending in finely chopped mushrooms to their burger mix. I normally hate mushrooms, but I would be interested in trying this! So keep an eye out at your local restaurant to see if they’re participating, or stop by Village Whiskey this summer to try their entry into the Better Burger Project: The Woodland Jewel Burger.

Burger rating: “A-“

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Burgers In The House!

There’s no shortage of restaurants in South Philly. Unfortunately, fine dining or family-style Italian places seems to outnumber places serving up good ol’ fashioned burgers. Not that that’s a bad thing, but for the purposes of this blog, it requires a little  more legwork than usual. So I strapped on my sneakers and hoofed it all the way down to 13th & Shunk this week to check out SouthHouse, which opened just a few months ago. The bar has a really cozy neighborhood vibe while also feeling like a chic gastropub. They’ve got lots of great craft beers on tap, as well as veggie and gluten-free options in addition to their upscale bar fare. I opted for their SouthHouse burger: a house made burger topped with roasted red pepper, portobello mushroom, smoked manchego, rocket pesto on an onion poppy brioche.

It took a while for the burgers to come out & when they did, I could see why. They appear to be baked instead of cooked on a flat top grill, which is fine by me (my parents used to cook burgers this way at home in the winter months before the invention of the George Foreman grill, lol). Unfortunately that meant that my medium burger came out slightly more on the medium-well side, with just a wink of pink. Since they also have meatballs on the menu, I’m guessing they used the same seasoned meat blend for the burgers, which gave the patty a really nice flavor. The roll was nice and fresh, thick enough to withstand the juices from the patty. The house-made pesto topping also paired really well with the seasoning of the meat; truly a South Philly Italian burger right here! It was tasty and didn’t leave me feeling stuffed afterwards – which gave me plenty of extra room to pick at their hand-cut fries, which have a seasoning on them similar to BBQ potato chips (finger-lickin’ good!). They also make their ketchup in house and you can choose from regular or pomegranate. Go for the pomegranate – it’s amazing and not overly sweet – definitely a must-try!

Burger rating: “B”

Veggie, Dawg!

So here we are, our very last veggie burger of Meatless March. Since several of the other veggie burgers I tried this month were from places where I’d already had their regular burger, I decided I’d continue that trend and stopped by Good Dog Bar – a bold move considering that on both of my visits there, I was extremely disappointed in their basic beef burger. Could their veggie burger wow me? Or would I leave once again with my tail tucked between my legs?

The veggie burger here is a patty of roasted eggplant, mushrooms, lentils & brown rice topped with lettuce, tomato, crispy shallots & spicy ketchup on onion brioche roll. The patty itself looked great; I love when I’m able to see all the elements together. That way I know they’re not just using some frozen fake meat. All the flavors came together really nicely and the spicy ketchup wasn’t overly spicy. I tried to put some of the accompanying fry sauce on the patty, but it made it kind of bland, cancelling out the veggie flavors. I also liked that they used an onion roll and not a boring brioche. It tasted really fresh and healthy – even if I was also chowing down on their signature kennebec & sweet potato hand-cut fries! I’m a little disappointed that their veggie burger was better than their regular burger, but that just means I’ll have to give the regular burger one last shot after all.

So, which of the four veggie burgers that I ate this month stole my heart? Unlike last year, there was a clear winner – CITY TAP HOUSE! Everything about their veggie burger just clicked for me. The beets, the cheese, the multi-grain roll – it was the kind of veggie burger that makes you forget that you’re not eating meat because it’s so damn delicious. Am I about to give up on meat burgers for good for it? Definitely not! I’m already counting the minutes until April 1st so I can dive right back into some medium-cooked meat!

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