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Category Archives: summer

Last one out of Flavortown

This week we celebrated July 4th, which means we are smack dab in the middle of summer. And what are two things that are synonymous with summer? Burgers and outdoor concerts. A few years ago, I showcased burgers at some local venues here in Philly. And while BB&T Pavillion (AKA Susquehanna Bank Center AKA Tweeter Center, depending on how old you are) may seem like it’s part of the Philly music scene, it is technically in Camden. More than just the name has changed in the past few years – the food and beverage offerings have changed as well; a sure reflection on the thriving food & beer scene in Philly and South Jersey. There are now a myriad of craft beer stands (such as local NJ breweries River Horse & Flying Fish) and stationery food trucks set up throughout both outdoor areas, as well as inside the arena itself. There’s even a stand where you can get Chickie & Pete’s Crab Fries – everyone’s favorite ballpark staple.

And then, as I was heading to my seats. I saw this:

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“Is this real life?!”, I thought to myself. I mean, there is only one FlavorTown, headed by one fiery haired celebrity chef, right?? Sure enough, I rounded the corner and found the stand for Guy’s Burger Joint, with Guy’s smiling face and questionable facial hair staring right back at me.

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I evaluated the burger options – all fairly basic and in the $13-$16 range (which is about as much as you would expect overpriced venue food to cost). Well, it’s now or never, I thought to myself. I have to do this, right? I mean, it’s my duty as a burger blogger to eat this burger topped with whatever “Donkey Sauce” is so that other people don’t have to. So I saddled up to the counter, ordered a “Real Cheesy” – which is an 80/20 ground chuck blend patty topped with L.T.O.P (lettuce, tomato, onion & pickle; not to be confused with Kanye’s TLOP) S.M.C (super melty cheese) and a liberal slathering of the aforementioned Donkey Sauce (what I learned was a “jacked up” secret mayo sauce) on a buttered & toasted roll.

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Being that this was a QSR at a very large music venue, my burger was not cooked to order & was presented to me from a warmer mere seconds after ordering. The presentation of the burger itself wasn’t entirely terrible, save for the 2 inches of shredded lettuce topping it and hiding the sad burger patty. I did have to double check that they actually put a tomato on there (you can just make out its very pale red sliver). Once I got both my hands on it, the burger was much thicker than I had anticipated. Sure it was probably a frozen patty, but honestly, it tasted much better than some of the frozen patties I’ve ever had. The “Donkey Sauce” was bland and flavorless, there was entirely way too much lettuce & the only saving grace was the butter-griddled bun. The pickles were reminiscent of a cheeseburger at McDonald’s and all I could think was, “Oh my god I just spent $14 on an overpriced McDonald’s cheeseburger”.

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Compared to the sad looking slices of (probably $9) pizza I saw people carrying around, this is probably one of the best food options at the BB&T Pavilion (which really isn’t saying too much, I guess). So if you haven’t eaten before the show, or if you just get really drunk on $16 premium drafts and need to feed the beast, get yourself a ticket to Flavortown and check out Guy’s burgers.

Burger Rating: “Triple D”

 

 

Summer Beer Garden Series: Morgan’s Pier

Ok, so technically Morgan’s Pier isn’t a beer garden per se (and technically, I’ve already been there before), but it is outdoors and they do serve beer, so it totally counts! Not to mention, they’ve been changing up the chef lineup every year since it opened in 2012 (this year it’s being helmed by Nick Elmi of Top Chef fame), so it’s a whole new menu to try out. So how does it compare to my last visit? I started with their signature Watermelon Ricky – a 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon poured over lemon juice & watermelon puree. It’s the perfect refreshment for a hot day.

For eats, I went with the backyard burger – topped with lettuce, pickles, sharp American cheese and house sauce. You can add on coleslaw, fries or beans for an extra $3 so I said why not? The burger was only $7 (seems I’m on a bit of a downward sliding scale from my previous beer garden trips thus far).

I wasn’t asked how I wanted the burger cooked, but it came out perfectly medium; bright pink inside and perfectly juicy. It was a simple backyard burger on a potato bun – tasty and no frills. I’ll definitely have to come back with a bigger appetite to try the double stacked Pier burger that comes topped with local bacon made by 1732 meats. I would skip the fries, though. Compared to my last trip where I got a mountain of hand-cut seasoned fries for $3, these were clearly straight from a bag frozen fries (my gut totally said coleslaw, too, which proves that you should always go with your gut).

Morgan’s Pier is open 7 days a week and there’s plenty of room around the pier to hang out with your friends or fly solo and sit by the water watching the boats come in. Plus there’s Quizzo on Tuesdays, brunch on the weekends & live music pretty much every other night of the week. Even better: come on a night when the Camden Riversharks have post-game fireworks and you’ve got an amazing view!

Burger rating: “B-“

Summer Beer Garden Series: Drury Beer Garden

It was a long, harsh winter but summer is finally here! I’m excited to spend as much time outdoors soaking in the sun and warmth as I can, and along with that, spending time in all the great outdoor spaces that have started popping up around Philadelphia in the past few years.  We sure have plenty of places to drink outside and naturally, you’re going to want to eat, too. So for the entire month of July, I’ll be highlighting the burgers around town at various beer gardens. First up: Drury Beer Garden, located behind Opa. You can either access it by heading down that sketchy alley where McGillin’s Olde Ale House is (you know the one) or through the rear door of Opa’s dining room.

 

The DBG Double Down Burger is a two handed, double decker delight: two 5 oz patties topped with house cured bacon, sharp cheddar, beer sauce & a giant tomato slice. I wasn’t asked how I wanted the burger cooked and was worried that the size of the two patties would result in their being cooked to medium-well/well done, but they came out surprisingly pink (I think due in part to the hand-formed shape of the patties). The giant tomato slice made the already large burger a little awkward to eat, but I managed my way around it. The ciabatta-like bun was thick, which was good since there was a lot of grease/meat juice runoff; the bun helped to catch a good deal of it. While the presentation looked nice, it seemed a little cumbersome serving it on the board. The seasoned, hand-cut fries started sliding off and the meat juice/grease that had run off the burger started to pool in the center. I was worried that the busser/bartender would get splashed with it when they cleared my plate! There also wasn’t any place to put condiments (I wasn’t given any and I wish I’d had some kind of aioli or ketchup to enjoy the fries with). Weird plating aside, the burger was really tasty and, paired with a Dogfish Head Festina Peche, a great way to spend a sunny afternoon!

Burger rating: “B-“

On a Roll

Growing up along the Long Island Sound, lobster rolls were a quintessential part of summer, right along with backyard BBQs and getting an ice cream cone from Mister Softee. I mean, my parents even moved to the birthplace of the lobster roll when I graduated college. So when I moved south and inland to Philadelphia, I was hit with sticker shock at a variety of restaurants who were pricing my favorite summer treat at nearly $20 or over! And they weren’t even the delicious, Connecticut-style kind. They were gross, mayo-laced New England atrocities. (Seriously guys, mayo and seafood is a terrible combination!) How was a girl to get her fix of warm, buttered crustacean on a bun?

Well, luckily, Luke’s Lobster heard my pleas and opened up shop in Philadelphia just a few months ago. For a mere $15, you can get your taste of Maine’s greatest export. Plus add a bag of chips & a soda for only $2!

Just when I thought summer couldn’t get any better, my favorite food truck, Spotburgers, brought back their much anticipated lobster roll special from last summer (which sold out within minutes whenever it was on the menu). For only TEN AMERICAN DOLLARS you got a whopping 6 oz of lobster with a little tomato & corn garnish, plus a side a fries. That was an even slicker deal then Luke’s! (and much tastier!)

And then, Johnny Brenda’s threw a clambake bash and put a NINE DOLLAR lobster roll on their menu! $9. It was unheard of! Oh sure, it didn’t come with fries, but I could drink a beer while enjoying it and that was good enough for me. Throw in a side of coleslaw, some pickles & a little lemon mayo and it was the perfect summer treat.

Now the Spot lobster roll is a special, so you’ll want to watch their Twitter feed (linked above) to find out where and when it’s popping up next. But for the best bargain lobster roll in town, head over to Luke’s Lobster on 17th & Sansom any time. (Plus, they even deliver after 5 PM, so you don’t even have to leave the house to get it!)

Picnic on the Pier

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know by now that Morgan’s Pier is the ultimate summer hot spot in Philly. There’s a huge selection of draft & bottled beers, cocktails, frozen drinks, games, the Little Baby’s Ice Cream‘s cart, DJs & bands on the weekends, an AMAZING view of the Ben Franklin Bridge (Oh, and the Delaware River too, I guess) – and most importantly – FOOD!

The kitchen this year is helmed by none other than Philadelphia Magazine’s Best Chef 2012 winner, George Sabatino. But he’s not serving up your run-of-the-mill bar food; he’s putting his own twist on some classic favorites. Case in point: the burger. Oh, sure. From the outside, it looks like your typical BBQ charred patty on a potato roll. But the patty goes through a fun, scientific adventure before it makes its way to your mouth. First, it’s vacuum-sealed and put into a hot water bath. Then, it’s flash frozen in liquid nitrogen. And finally, the burger is deep-fried (you heard that right) to either medium or well done, topped with a scoop of American cheese, some veggies & their housemade thousand island dressing, and sent to your waiting belly. (It comes paired with a little pickled veggie salad.)

But, if you want fries you can have em. A small order will only set you back $3 and you better bring some friends, because there are a LOT of fries!

The corn on the cob is grilled and slathered with lobster butter, with a lime on the side. At $6, it’s a little pricey for corn, but still pretty tasty.

Wash it all down with a Watermelon Ricky: A Hell or High Watermelon beer poured over watermelon simple syrup & lemon juice:

Morgan’s Pier is a great spot for any type of group, young or old. It’s got one of the most eclectic crowds in the whole city and it has something for everybody. (Seriously, if you bring someone here and they aren’t enjoying themselves, you should probably stop being their friend.) Plus, it’s a great place to watch fireworks on the Riverfront while enjoying a cold beverage or two. So swing by sometime this summer and check it out!

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