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Category Archives: potato roll

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”

Paradise By The Neon Light

“Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night…”

Nestled just a few blocks off East Passyunk’s main strip lies a storefront with twin neon signs like glowing beacons enticing you to come inside. That place is Fountain Porter, home of the $5 burger. That’s right, folks. Five bucks. One Abe Lincoln. There are no frills and no gimmicks. If you want a burger, you come here (and hopefully you do, because other than some bar snacks, that’s the only item on the menu).

The burger comes on a soft potato roll topped with lettuce, tomato and American cheese (pickles on the side, ribbed for your snacking pleasure). Standard. Simple. Perfect char on the outside, delicious and juicy on the inside, just the way a good bar burger should be. Pair this bad boy with a side of crispy, hand-cut fries and you’re “gonna go all the way tonight“.

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”

2 Fast 2 Curious

Every good burger deserves a sequel, but sometimes even not-so-great burgers get sequels, too. As a follow up to last year’s post, The Fast and the Curious, this week I visited fast-casual burger chain BurgerFi, who recently opened a location in Philly near the Pennsylvania Convention Center. BurgerFi is kind of like if Shake Shack & Five Guys had a baby: They use peanut oil on their fresh cut fries, they serve their burgers on potato rolls, they give you a buzzer while they prepare your order, and they’ve got plentiful taps pouring craft beer. They also tout themselves as serving “all natural burgers” using Angus beef and “brand” the outside of the burger bun with a charred BURGERFI stamp. I opted for the BurgerFi cheeserburger: A double natural Angus burger topped with double American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and BurgerFi® sauce.

The burger itself contains two thin double stacked patties like Five Guys and they’re on a toasted potato roll like Shake Shack. Unlike Shake Shack, the patties had a little bit of a grill-top char to them and unlike Five Guys, these burgers weren’t very juicy.  I didn’t think the Angus beef had any flavor to it, unlike the distinct profile of the La Frieda meat used at Shake Shack and the “secret sauce” was also bland and barely existent. As you can see, my burger did not carry the signature BURGERFI stamp (perhaps this is something they don’t have time for during the lunch rush?) and the cheese was barely melted. The fresh cut fries were thick and crispy – they also didn’t give you two pounds of them like Five Guys does, which can be either good or bad depending on which you prefer.

Verdict? For a burger, fries and a drink, the price point was slightly high for a fast-casual chain, coming in around just over $13 while I’ve easily only spent $10-$12 for the same items at Shake Shack & Five Guys. Between the cost and the lackluster food, I doubt I would choose this place over one of its better, tastier counterparts.

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