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Heisen-burger

I’ll admit I’ve never seen “Breaking Bad“, but it’s on my list of resolutions for the year. In the meantime, I ate the Breaking Bad burger at Keg & Kitchen in Collingswood which comes topped with 2 patties, bacon, onion, jalapeño (which I picked off because I’m a wimp), tomato, iceberg lettuce, BBQ sauce, mayo, and yellow american cheese on a seeded bun.

I wasn’t asked how I wanted my burger cooked (probably because of the size of the double patties), but they were cooked to well; still juicy but with no pink inside. All the flavors were really great, with a slight, char-broiled taste that reminded me of a fancy whopper (although it certainly doesn’t compare to this whopper wannabe). The patties were on the small side, causing me to have to over compensate by eating more bun than burger so that I could maintain a good burger to bun ratio.

The only downside overall was the price point – $13, which I thought was rather high for a burger so simple. If you want to save a few bucks, they offer the burger for $10 on Mondays. Or balance it out by taking advantage of their Friday happy hour when all craft drafts are $4.

Burger rating: “B”

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Mon Petit Burger

I’m feeling a little French this week as I just checked out Bardot Cafe, a sexy new bar in Northern Liberties named after French film femme fatale, Brigitte Bardot. But don’t let the name of this post dissuade you: the burger here was not “petit” by any means. This massive, thick patty, topped with caramelized onions, lettuce, and mahon cheese underneath a sexy, seeded bun will have you saying, “Oui, Oui!”

The burger came out cooked perfectly medium as requested. It was delicious and juicy, the caramelized onions and cheese pairing nicely with the flavor of the meat (And if you guys didn’t already know, caramelized onions are one of my favorite burger toppings). The piece of lettuce underneath the burger acted as a diaper of sorts to avoid that dreaded soggy bun. The only problem that I had was the burger to bun ratio: Oh sure, from the picture above, everything looks pretty proportional. But once you start chowing down, you start to run out of bun pretty quickly since the burger patty itself is so sizable. I tried to compensate as much as I could but still found myself with a few bites of just meat at the end.

Oh, and if you’ve still got room for dessert after all that burger, the Cocoa Banana Bread is très bien!

 

Burger Rating: “B+”

 

a.Pretty Good Burger

A few weeks ago, some friends & I stopped into High Street on Market for brunch where the menu is crafted by one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs, Eli Kulp. We loved the sandwiches and pastries there so much that we made this month’s brunch stop at a.Kitchen, where Chef Kulp recently took over the menu this past spring. Naturally I was excited to try the burger on the brunch menu: a Creekstone Farms Black Angus patty topped with cave-aged cheddar, mayo and pickles on a house-made sesame bun.

The presentation looked amazing. I almost asked for ketchup for the potatoes, but they were so soft and perfectly seasoned, I didn’t even need it. The burger patty was thick and proportional to the bun. My only complaint was that when I picked the burger up, the bottom of the bun was very soggy (luckily, the bottom bun was also pretty thick so it didn’t fall apart). The meat was juicy and flavorful, despite being cooked slightly more medium-well than medium (one of my friends also ordered the burger & got hers prepared medium-rare, and it was plenty red inside). The cave-aged cheddar paired well with the house mayo, giving the burger a good, tangy flavor, and the pickles added some sweetness and crunch. The quality of the meat and freshness of the ingredients definitely made it a solid brunch selection. Even though the patty was a pretty hefty size, it didn’t leave me feeling super stuffed or weighed down like some bar burgers tend to do – which means you’ll have plenty of room for some of their delicious, house-baked pastries as well.

Chef Kulp just added a more bar-esque version of the burger to the menu next door at a.Bar, so I will definitely have to go back and check that one out, too!

Burger rating: “B+”

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I’ve been on a pretty bad burger streak lately. Even my trip to Vegas didn’t help! (well, ok, In ‘n’ Out burger helped a little) It left me wondering: would I ever be able to break through this burger funk? Or was I destined to let the Polar Vortex infringe on the juicy, delicious treats of months past? Thankfully, the weather thawed out this weekend, and so I ventured forth in search of a tasty burger to lift my winter blues. I decided to check out newly opened spot, The Gaslight, co-owned by Top Chef season 11 contestant and chef at Ela, Jason Cichonski. I’d had the burger at Ela before, but with a new venture comes a new possibility for burger greatness.

The burger at The Gaslight was actually the “polar” opposite of the burger at Ela: an 8oz beef patty topped with aged cheddar, creamy & spicy sauce, smoked pickles, and a seeded brioche bun. I ordered it medium – along with a cleverly named “Bieber” champagne cocktail – and waited. And waited… and waited! I started to sweat a little. The bartender noticed and brought me another drink (The “Miley” this time). A burger shouldn’t take this long, I thought to myself, but this was their opening weekend so I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. I still felt nervous; they couldn’t let me down, they just couldn’t. I needed this to be a great burger after all the previous burger bummers!

My burger arrived and the second I picked it up, juices poured out the back of it. I breathed a sigh of relief. I took a bite and saw just enough pink in the middle to satisfy me (It was more on the medium well side). The meat was tender and flavorful. We were having a burger breakthrough! The spicy cream sauce was delicious; I even dipped my fries in some of the run-off. The pickles were chopped and sprinkled on top of the patty instead of being sliced, which I liked as well. Their smokiness wasn’t overpowering and they gave the burger a nice, briny flavor. And the bun was completely proportional to the patty; I had no issues with sogginess or running out of bun too quickly. Finally, after a dry spell, I’d hit a burger home run.

I’m gearing up to do Meatless March next month (Keep me in your meat-eating prayers, guys), but The Gaslight also has a veggie burger people have been raving about, so I’ll be sure to come back and check it out.

Burger Rating: “B”

Don’t Avoid Lloyd!

There’s nothing more enjoyable then a solid burger and an excellent glass of whiskey. Luckily, at Lloyd Whiskey Bar, you can get both! There’s an extensive list of whiskeys broken down by variety from bourbon to scotch and everything in between. Not sure what you might like? Don’t be afraid to ask the bartenders! They’re extremely knowledgeable about each bottle behind the bar, from flavor profile to proof, and are more than willing to give you suggestions based on what your usual brown liquid of choice is. As for the burger, its patty is a home blend topped with cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and bread & butter pickles under a seeded brioche bun.

The burger came out perfectly pink in the middle and was nice and juicy. The bun was soft, reminding me slightly of the buns at The Industry: shiny and seeded on top, soft and thick on the bottom to absorb all the moisture. I did unfortunately find myself running out of bottom bun when I got down to the last few bites. Lettuce and tomato were nice and crisp, and the bread and butter pickles gave the burger a little touch of sweet and sour. The menu says that it was topped with muenster cheese, but it looked like possibly American or white cheddar; it definitely didn’t taste like muenster. Either way, it was a decent burger and pairing it with a glass of Bastille, a French whisky, made it a great combination.

Burger rating: “B”

Feelin’ Seedy…

…Or “A good bun is hard to find.”

I’ve expressed my disdain in the past for brioche burger buns, mostly because people get thrown off about the quality of a burger if it’s wedged between two shiny pieces of bread. But the fact of the matter is: a burger’s bun can really make or break the burger sometimes.

For example, this burger from Farmer’s Cabinet:

Looks totally great right? The bun felt really soft and tasted buttery – which overwhelmed the taste of the burger, so it was kind of disappointing. (I felt like I was getting the Paula Deen special.) Plus, even though it was flavored like butter, it was definitely not as smooth as butter. The bun’s buttery softness actually made it a little dry and crumbly, and the burger wasn’t juicy enough to even it out. Even with the amount of ketchup I tried putting on it, I felt like it was hard to swallow at times.

Example #2: One Mile House‘s Bowery Burger
Photo credit: Bridges, Burgers & Beer
The bun was just your basic, supermarket-style hamburger bun. Plus, the burger-to-bun ratio was totally off here. Bet you can guess what happened when I picked it up to eat it. It promptly began to fall apart in my hands – especially after adding ketchup and burger juices flowing. A bad boy burger like this needs some backup. You can’t just throw it on a whimpy potato roll! (Especially since it’s loaded down with all those toppings.)
But the Parliament Burger at Pub & Kitchen gets it right:
Good burger-to-bun ratio, gets everything nestled under there nicely, plus the adorable pickles on top. It was a sturdy bun, it looked good and it tasted delicious. It didn’t add or take anything away from the burger itself; it was the perfect compliment. (And did I mention how cute it looks!?)

However, sometimes great buns happen to not-so-great burgers:
Photo credit: Bridges, Burgers & Beer
Oh yeah, I want you inside me.

Here’s that trick I was telling you about: Using a sexy looking bun to reel  you in and trick you, while secretly disguising a less than stellar patty underneath.
Photo credit: Bridges, Burgers & Beer
It’s like the morning after the bar and you wake up next to someone realizing you had total beer goggles on the night before. Look how small that burger is compared to the bun! Not to say the burger itself wasn’t tasty. But I was eating a lot of bread most of the time when I was wishing I was biting into a delicious, juicy patty. (Industry Burger – The Industry, Philadelphia)
Let’s recap: A good bun should be – firm yet soft, stand up to anything you pile on top of it, be willing to take in anything that’s thrown it’s way, never overwhelm, look cute, taste delicious and go down easy. (FYI, these are the same things I look for in a relationship.Hey-o!)
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