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Category Archives: potato bun

Whet Your Whistle

The restaurant space at the corner of 5th & Bainbridge has seen a lot of changes throughout the years. With various openings and closings and being vacant for extended periods of time, residents in the Queen Village neighborhood worried they might never have a steady hot-spot in the hood. Hoping to “reverse the curse” (so to speak), the owners of Brauhaus Schmitz have recently opened  Whetstone Tavern and crafted a menu of classic American cuisine using fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. As you can probably already guess, I headed straight for the bar & ordered the Dad’s Burger – a LaFrieda blend patty on a Martin’s potato roll, topped with cooper sharp cheese, iceberg lettuce slaw, heirloom tomato, diced onion, and pickles. You can opt for a single or a double patty; I went with just one to give it a good baseline. You can pair it with fries, chips or a half salad – I chose fries.

I wasn’t asked how I wanted the burger cooked but it was on the medium-well side. It didn’t matter because I knew the quality of the La Frieda meat would ensure that my burger was moist, flavorful & delicious. Also, it was on a soft Martin’s potato roll, which automatically makes any burger taste amazing. It was on the small side, but still tasty. I loved seeing the little yellow sliver of the heirloom tomato after I took my first bite. The burger also comes topped with a house burger sauce (probably some kind of in-house thousand island variation). I failed to notice that the ketchup listed on the menu was sriracha ketchup so after my first bite, my mouth was on fire! Luckily, I was able to dip the fries in the burger sauce/meat juice run off, which made them extra tasty. The fries were kind of under-salted, so the drippings helped alleviate some of the blandness as well. Next time I will definitely opt for the double decker burger & chips! Also be sure to save room for  one of Pastry Chef Jessica Nolen’s amazing desserts – or you can wait until her new, standalone bakery The Little Bird opens just a few blocks away!

Burger rating: “B”

Summer Beer Garden Series: Independence Beer Garden

I never made it over to the Independence Beer Garden last season, but I did check out their mobile truck when it was parked over at Festival Pier and had a really solid burger. I was excited to get over to check out the IBG this year and hoping for the same result burger-wise. The burger here comes topped with cheddar, bacon, lettuce & tomato on a potato bun.

Even though this burger is $8 with no sides, the presentation was certainly nicer than the $9 burger I got last week. The patty was also much thicker! It was cooked perfectly to medium as requested and was flavorful & juicy. The bacon was crisp & the cheddar cheese thick & gooey. Plus, burgers just taste better on a potato bun! It was the perfect backyard burger & it pairs great with any one of the amazing Summer beers on tap (I went with a Shiner Ruby Redbird & the Yards IBG Wheat).

Burger rating: “A”

Hunger No Longer

There’s been a big movement to eat ethically lately, with people are quickly growing conscious of the dangers of growth hormones and GMOs, opting for organic or local products, as well as ensuring that those who are growing and harvesting their foods aren’t being exploited. It’s not just about feeling good physically when going shopping or going out to eat; it’s about feeling good mentally as well. And at Hunger Burger (located in the famous Reading Terminal Market), they’re doing just that. In addition to using only the freshest ingredients and 100% hormone & antibiotic free all natural Black Angus beef, with every burger that is sold, they will donate a burger to feed a child in need – supporting local charities like Philabundance & No Kid Hungry. On my visit, I opted for the Philbert Burger (named for Filbert Street, which is adjacent to the market): topped with American cheese, green leaf lettuce, tomato, smoked bacon and their specialty HB sauce.

The burgers are smashed & griddled in a fashion similar to Smashburger, leaving a bit of a crispy char on the outside of the patty. They’re served on a soft potato bun and are on the smaller side (but don’t worry – you can order the burger as a double if you’re famished!) It was simply seasoned and really tasty. The menu said to ask if you want it topped with pickles, but the cashier asked me if I wanted a pickle and of course I said yes! It was a little bit on the pricey side (about the same range as Burgerfi across the street or Shake Shack), but worth it knowing that my money would be going to benefit someone in need. They serve crinkle cut fries just like Shake Shack as well, but with a lot more crunch! There’s even a variety of dipping sauces you can order for an additional fee ($1.50 – also a little pricey) if you choose. So next time you’re in Reading Terminal, think before you eat and let that tummy rumbling guide you over to Hunger Burger!

Making it Grain

Now that I commute to the suburbs every day, trying to find new and interesting burgers is like a scavenger hunt. Luckily, I can drive home through Chestnut Hill and Mount Airy if I so choose, giving me more options than Irish pub food or chain restaurants. This week, I stopped into newly opened Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange in Mount Airy as I saw on their Facebook page that Mondays were half-price burger nights (and you guys know how much I love a good burger deal). Their Farmhouse burger is an all natural, grass-fed beef patty topped with Cooper sharp American cheese, Applewood bacon, bibb lettuce and sweet tomato jam on a potato bun.

The burger came out cooked perfectly medium, the grass-fed beef juicy and flavorful. The sweet tomato jam wasn’t overpowering (which I had been concerned with initially when reading the menu) and added a nice tang. The cheese was gooey and the bacon was thick cut with a good crunch to it. The potato bun was so soft and delicious, it was like eating a burger that was sandwiched between a cloud! Good burger to bun ratio; I never once worried about a soggy bottom bun or running out of bun before burger. For having only found out about this place hours before eating here, the Grain Exchange really knocked it out of the park on the first try!

Burger rating: “A-“

Suburban Burgers: MaGerk’s

When I used to commute to Montgomery County daily, I drove past MaGerk’s in Fort Washington every day. Once a month or so, the office would congregate there on a Friday afternoon for happy hour, but surprisingly, I had never eaten there before! Since it’s on my drive home and Mondays just happen to be half-price burger night, I figured I would check it out. There are about five burger options to choose from, including an avocado topped California turkey burger & a build your own Angus burger option. I opted for the build your own topped with cheddar cheese and bacon (for an additional 50 cent each) – because, hey, why not? It’s half price!

The burger was cooked slightly above medium so not completely pink in the center, and “smashed burger” style with a nice char on the exterior. The bacon was crispy but didn’t have much flavor; I couldn’t really differentiate it from the burger itself unless I happened to look at where I was taking a bite. The Angus beef was a little too greasy for my liking, but luckily a lot of that grease was caught by the shiny, soft potato roll it was perched on. The burger usually comes with chips, but I opted for fries for an extra $2 – especially when the bartender mentioned they were waffle fries! All said and done, the burger – including the add-ons of cheese, bacon & fries – wound up being less than the 8 oz pour of Southern Tier Pumpking I paired with it ($8 for the beer vs $7 for the burger). It was a pretty decent bar burger, but I was glad that it was half-price because I probably wouldn’t get it a regular night. (Never say never, though: all drafts are $3 on Tuesdays from 5-9 PM, so you may need something to soak up all that beer!)

Burger rating: “C-“

High Society

There’s certainly no shortage of places in Philadelphia to get good food and cocktails. So when Society Hill Society opened in Headhouse Square a few months ago, I knew I’d have to add it to my list. And then all my friends started raving about their burger. “Best burger I ever had!” “Only $8!” “I don’t even like burgers but this was so good!” Once I heard their reviews and saw pictures all over social media of how good it looked, it immediately got bumped to the top. I popped in for brunch on Sunday after checking out the Headhouse Farmers Market, which is where Society Hill Society sources many of its ingredients from. The burger is a no-frills sirloin & brisket blend patty topped with lettuce, onion and tomato on a house-made potato bun. You can also add cheddar cheese for $1, which I did.

The burger looked amazing when it came out. The patty and bun were proportional, although certainly smaller than the monster I got last week. I did however find myself running out of burger the more bites I took, so I tried to pace myself and only had about one bite at the end that was just bun. The house-made bun was nice and soft, and it was nice to see something other then a shiny brioche roll for a change. Since the burger patty was small and thick, it did come out slightly more on the medium-well side, but was very juicy and flavorful. It was also topped with some kind of house-made ketchup that was was ridiculous delicious. Paired with hand-cut potato chips and a pickle, it was the perfect treat for a Sunday afternoon, and definitely worth the expedited trip.

Burger rating: “B+”

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