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Have a Heart

I headed back home recently to celebrate my birthday with my parents. And celebrate I did by eating a burger in the heart of New York City: Times Square. We decided to check out Heartland Brewery’s HB Burger which touts itself as “the only full-service burger-oriented restaurant in the Times Square area”. I opted for their standard HB burger which uses fresh ground Pat LaFreida patties and tops them with aged NY cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomato, an onion ring (!) and garlic aioli all on a brioche bun.

The burger came out medium as requested (and I should hope so if burgers are your business!). In typical LaFrieda fashion, the meat was juicy and delicious. Bacon was smoky and crisp, pairing nicely with the aged cheddar. My only complaint would be the bun. It’s no secret that brioche buns aren’t my first choice, but when done well they can be excellent. This bun was overly dry which totally threw off the great taste of all the other burger components. Oh sure, it came in handy sopping up all the meat juices, but having to take extra sips of my beer in between bites became tiresome. My mom order the crab cake burger and had the same complaint, eventually giving up on the bun entirely. Some of the other burgers are served on a potato bun, which I would have preferred but obviously wouldn’t have been able to contain all the toppings. In any case, this was still a solid burger that you can enjoy right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of NYC (without any creepy costumed characters trying to steal your fries).

Burger rating: “B”

 

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Some friends wanted to play Quizzo this week and since two of us live Roxborough/East Falls area, we were able to convince the other “City Folk” to take the train out to our turf. We found ourselves at Billy Murphy’s Irish Saloon, just blocks from the East Falls SEPTA Regional Rail station. We also found out it was $4 burger night! The burger is an Angus patty topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo and onion on a Le Bus roll. My friend asked the waitress if the onion was raw or cooked (I hate raw onion and normally just pick it off if it comes on a burger). She said it was raw but if we wanted, they could cook it. GAME CHANGER! Of course I wanted my onion cooked.

The burger came out pretty quickly since we beat the pre-Quizzo crowd. It was simple, no frills bar burger. The bun – a Le Bus Brioche – was slightly larger than the patty, but luckily not by much. The burger was cooked past my requested medium to almost well done, but it wasn’t bad; the Angus meat still had a nice flavor to it. I ordered a side of onion rings and slapped one of those bad boys on top of the burger, which really amplified the taste and gave it a nice little crunch. It was certainly better than the burger I had last week, and a steal at only four bucks! If it was cooked perfectly, I could definitely see this being my go-to neighborhood burger. Guess I’ll just have to try it again when we go back for Quizzo next week!

Burger rating: “B”

Goodness Gracious

Ever since Shake Shack touched down in Philly two years ago, a lot of other fast-casual burger chains have come to the area trying make an imprint on the burger scene (Smashburger, BurgerFi, Burger21, to name a few). So when Spike Mendelsohn of Top Chef fame announced he would be opening a branch of his DC based burger joint, Good Stuff Eatery, I was anxious to see how it would turn out. And then I became increasingly more anxious as the projected opening date being reported by local food blogs kept getting pushed back again and again. Finally, just in time for July 4th weekend – aka Philadelphia’s time to shine – the doors opened and the burger angels sang their siren song.

They have an assortment of burgers with specialty toppings on potato buns, as well as hand-cut fries and shakes. Sounded awfully familiar to me, so what would set Good Stuff’s burgers apart? First off, their burgers are a blend of short rib, chuck and brisket and a whopping 5-6 ounces. As far as the fries go, instead of using classic Idaho potatoes like some places, Good Stuff uses red bliss potatoes that are aged and then hand cut and double fried. And for your dipping delight,  they’ve got a “mayo bar”, featuring Chipotle, Mango, Sriracha and Old Bay (a DC & Philly favorite). If you remember from my recent post about my trip to BurgerFi, I wasn’t pleased with them charging $13 for a burger, fries & a drink when you can easily get the same combo at Shake Shack or Five Guys for less. Good Stuff’s lunch special (running Monday-Friday from 11:30 AM-2:30 PM) features their Farmhouse Cheeseburger (topped with tomatoes, lettuce, onion, pickles and “Good Stuff Sauce”), fries and a drink for only $12! That sounded like a great deal to me and so, that’s what I opted to get.

So, the first thing I noticed was that I was not given the Farmhouse Cheeseburger. I’m not sure if this was an oversight or if maybe the lunch special burger changes daily; either way, I wasn’t complaining. Checking the menu again, it appears I was given the Coletti’s Smokehouse burger: topped with Applewood Bacon, sharp Vermont cheddar, fried Vidalia onion rings & chipotle BBQ sauce. The second thing I noticed was how big the patty was. This thing was no joke! Five Guys gives you two patties off the bat and Shake Shack will let you add a patty and both of those barely come close to this bad boy (and honestly, I feel like less of a pig if I have one big patty instead of getting two). Thirdly, while I was not asked how I wanted my burger cooked, when I bit inside, it was a perfectly pink medium. Already this burger was leaps and bounds over its competitors!

The cheddar was nice and gooey. The bacon, crispy. The BBQ sauce, tangy. The onion rings had a good crunch to them and weren’t too stringy. The bun, soft and proportional. Good Stuff Eatery was good stuff, indeed. I can’t wait to get back and check their burger out in its “pure” form.

Burger Rating: “A”

Don’t Pass On This Pub

I’ve been to Khyber Pass Pub countless times. They’ve got an amazing craft beer selection, a Nawlins-style weekend brunch, mac & cheese that I have dreams about, and the most delicious Po’ Boys this side of the Mason-Dixon line (including an awesome Vegan “fried chicken” one!). But the one thing I hadn’t tried before was their burger – until now! The Khyber Burger consists of an Angus beef patty topped with bacon, barbeque onions, smoked cheddar & creole mustard. They also let you choose from any of their Southern-style sides. I went with onion rings since 1) a lot of places don’t usually have onion rings as an option & 2) onion rings are the best!

I apologize for the poor lighting on the photo, but it was a little dark where I was sitting & a giant Happy Hour group was blocking my outside light. The onion rings had a nice, flaky batter on them so I added a few to the top of my burger before diving in. In addition to the barbequed onions already on the burger, the onion rings added some extra sweetness and texture (this is the go-to move!). The bun was a big, shiny brioche, much like the kind used at their sister restaurant, Royal Tavern. The bacon was crispy and the Creole mustard gave the burger a nice little tang. The patty was given a perfect bar char, but unfortunately was overcooked to medium-well/almost well done. The first few bites were juicy, but it was clear the meat was holding in too much heat; I found myself needing more ketchup to cover up the dried-out taste as I continued on. The burger to bun ratio was excellent, and I never once feared it would fall apart or that I would run out of meat before bun (or vice versa).

I was a little disappointed since everything else I’ve ever eaten here has been outstanding. Maybe because they have so many other great Southern sandwiches their burger just isn’t a main focus? Or maybe it’s my own fault that I didn’t just order a Fried Mac & Cheese Po’ Boy instead! Either way, Khyber Pass Pub is worth checking out – even if you don’t try the burger.

Burger Rating: “C+”

 

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