Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ditka's -- The Verdict

It would be easy to compose a snarky review about restaurants owned by former coaches or athletes. Add in a tourist-friendly location and visit at the height of Christmas shopping season, and the Review-O-Matic was already half-way done. But not so fast. Despite a presentation that erred on the "boring, white bread, tourist trappy" side, the proof is in the taste. And, as a whole, our reviewers loved it. "Shockingly good," "so close to perfect," "a great burger." Everyone loved the flavor, beef-to-bun ratio, and condiments. "Heaven on a bun," one noted. Despite one reviewer's dings for sloppy handling of the "Steakhouse" selection (onions, mushrooms, and sauces -- oh my!), the biggest criticism were pedestrian fries. Close to greatness, which is more that can be said about the Bears these days. Low of 74; high of 88 (twice!); average of 83.

"Kobe" Burger -- $15; The "Fridge" Burger -- $11; Coach's Steakhouse Burger -- $11

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bandera -- The Verdict

A hot mess. The selling point of the burger is that it is ground on-site. Is that what attributes to a burger that breaks up in your hands? That the burger was served supported by four overgrown toothpicks -- more like stilts -- to hold it together was a warning sign of poor structural integrity. Frank Lloyd would not approve. But, how is the taste? While some found the burger a touch on the greasy side, most enjoyed the flavor of the beef. Few, however, appreciated the hodge-podge of unannounced toppings: mayo, mustard, BBQ sauce (ketchup?), pickles (long-sliced and diced, it seemed), onions, lettuce, tomato, and perhaps others that competed with the cheese for flavor. The toppings won the battle with the cheese; the cheddar, at least, was a non-event. "Just trust us," seemed to be the philosophy, but advance notice (either on the menu, or by server) would have managed expectations. Still, no hard feelings. Even some of the lower scorers would give the burger another chance. Low of 54; high of 80; average of 68.

Cheeseburger -- fresh ground in-house -- with Hand-Cut Fries -- $14

Exhibit 6 -- Bandera

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Naha -- The Verdict

Even more than the sum of its parts! Nothing but kind words from us for the Naha burger. "Good tasting"; "easy to handle"; "nice cheese selection"; "clean presentation." One reviewer absolutely loved it: "When it first arrived, it did not look *that* impressive. But, all together, it was a fantastic tasting burger." The ciabatta bun was well sized and shaped to handle the burger, and sop up the juices. Aged beef offered nice flavors, and the condiment array added a touch of class. Scores: Low of 79m high of 93(!). We have a new leader: Average of 86.

Half Pound Angus Beef Burger with Your Choice of Cheese on a Housemade Sea Salt "Crusted" Ciabatta Bun with Stone Ground Mustard, Glazed Onions -- $15

Exhibit 5 -- Naha

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Peninsula Lobby -- The Verdict

If the ladies who lunched ate red meat, they would eat it here. Lovely presentation; upscale atmosphere; genteel ambience. At $22 for beef, and $29 for a foie-gras topped Kobe-lite experience, you get what you pay for. Fresh and inviting toppings; great fries; and attractive condiments complete the picture. Flavorful, but not overly seasoned, beef, pleased the taste buds. Poor handling on the foie gras burger skewed that score particularly low. Similarly, the value proposition kept scores lower than they would be on flavor and experience alone. And the fries ... mmmmmm. Overall, a decadent burger, at a decadent price. Low 70; High 81; Average 77.

Sirloin Burger -- $22 / The Lobby Kobe Burger (pretzel bun, foie gras, red onion jam, celery root slaw, truffled pomme frites) -- $29

Exhibit 4 -- The Peninsula Lobby

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

C-House -- The Verdict

Our first celebrity-chef burger. While our reviewers split as to whether the burger was too salty, generally favorable reviews for Chef S. Overall high scores for flavor and execution. A good sized burger, with perhaps a slightly undersized bun. Lovely garnish and home-made ketchup accented the presentation. The gouda cover was also well received. Some critics noted a bit of greasiness. The yellow tomato also was a nice complement. Some dissent as to whether the seasoned fries were the way to go, but no one dinged our chef for creativity and vision. The $10 price seemed not too high, given the nice presentation and setting. Scores ranged from 73 to 84, with an average of 79. Well done, as they say.

Angus Prime Burger -- gouda, LTO -- $10

Monday, August 24, 2009


Exhibit 3 -- C-House

A burger? At a "fish and chop" house?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Patty Burger -- The Verdict

Patty Burger offered challenges to our group. On a "policy" level, it raised the question as to whether our scale could adapt to both fine dining, and quick service. On a burger-specific level, there was a fair amount of variability in scoring and comment.

Aesthetically, the burger scored fairly well for handling and execution, even with our reviewers choosing both single and double patties. Most of the scores reflecting a "tight" burger of "excellent shape/presentation," albeit with one dissenter finding the overall presentation "sloppy." There was only one cooking option here, well done, which led to some criticisms on taste. In general, though, our reviewers had modest expectations, which were, for the most part, met. Our most generous judge called it "Great for what it is." Another noted it was a good value. For a day-to-day carry out burger, it would be better than average - though one commented: "would prefer a whopper with cheese."

There were some over-all negatives, though, which brought down the score. Patty Burger seemed like a half-baked concept. The order taker made multiple mistakes; the decor and music were at odds; the special sauce added nothing. The fries, in particular, were mere nubbins of potatoes -- embarrassing. But, the shakes made us forget them a bit.

Scoring: low of 59; high of 75; average of 66.

Double -- $5.99

Patty Burger