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Beast of the Northeast

I know you guys like burgers, but do you LOVE burgers? Well, Zagat does and to show that love, last week they partnered with restaurants all over the U.S. to create special burgers in honor of #ZagatLovesBurgers week. Representing Philadelphia was two-time Burger Brawl Champion, The Blue Duck, with their “Beast of the Northeast (Philly)” burger: a wild boar and beef patty, topped with smoked Gouda, sweet tomato jam, duck bacon, and crispy Sriracha onions on a brioche bun.

Since the meat was a boar/beef blend, I didn’t expect to be asked how I wanted it cooked, but it came out on the medium-medium well side; the patty pocketed with pink spots where the beef blend was located. The tomato jam gave the burger a nice sweetness to counteract the smokey gouda. The bacon was nice and crispy. But they forgot the Sriracha onions! (Probably for the best – you guys know by now I’m a wimp for hot/spicy stuff.) Despite the ingredients & the “beastly” nickname, the burger itself was much lighter than I expected, meaning I didn’t feel heavy and grossly full afterward. Which meant that I had room for their signature Blue Duck Fries: hand-cut fries that are tossed in duck fat, then topped with smoked gouda cheese sauce & shredded duck confit. Seriously. Don’t leave without getting these fries or you’ll be sad like the guy sitting next to me was!

The Blue Duck is a bit off the beaten path from downtown Philadelphia, but definitely worth the trip. I can’t wait to come back and try their regular burger – and to crush some more duck fries!

Burger rating: “A”

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Story of a Burger

Despite Pennsylvania’s archaic liquor laws (which up until recently required you to buy an entire case of beer from a distributor or buy individual bottles and 6 packs at a significant markup from a completely different store or a bar), there are breweries abound all over of the state – many of them right here within the Philadelphia area. The demand for great beer is so high here that we even have our own annual event celebrating it – Philly Beer Week – which kicks off one month from now. And what goes better with beer than a great burger? This week I stopped into 2nd Story Brewing in Old City (which recently opened in the old Triumph Brewing space) to check out their namesake burger, which comes topped with arugula, cheddar and tomato jam on a Le Bus bun.

The burger was cooked perfectly to medium as requested and was nice and juicy, but not so much so that it would sog up the bottom bun. The bitterness of the arugula was countered by the sweetness of the tomato jam, which was smeared on the bottom bun. It kind of snuck up on me at the end – in a good way! A nice treat for the last few bites. As for their beers,  I tried the Five Mile Ale, a dark, English mild-style beer that had notes of chocolate and toffee, but was light enough to not leave me feeling full the way a porter or stout might. They’ve also got another burger on the menu topped with battered/fried onion & jalapeno, Fritzie’s fondue, and a Tilted Barn farm-fresh egg. I can’t wait to get back to check it out along with a few more brews!

Burger rating: “B”

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-“

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