Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Burger Team

May we suggest wrapping your presents just so?

The Grillroom Chophouse & Winebar -- The Verdict

Who knew that there was such a thing as too much bacon on a burger? Until our visit to the Grillroom Chophouse Winebar (six nouns?), we didn't. Indeed, "bacon" really isn't the right word, as the house burger's topping of choice was two slabs of pork belly the size of a pair of iPhones. Indeed, come to think of it, "topping" doesn't quite do justice to these pork planks. They totally dominated the burger, adding unusual dimensions of flavor and texture, which made the pork the focus of the sandwich, not the beef. From what we could discern, the burger itself had the potential to stand on its own, but in this formulation it was as pricey as it was sloppy. There were other things to like (delicious apps, tasty fries, attentive service), but this particular burger concept didn't do much for us. Low of 60; high of 72; average of 67.

Exhibit 25 -- The Grillroom Chophouse & Winebar

Friday, November 4, 2011

Butcher & The Burger -- The Verdict

Very impressive. A slight hipster vibe doesn't overwhelm the dedication and affection for the burger. Everything about the restaurant, including the lunchtime crowd, felt just right. Great vibe. Great flavor. Great creativity. Great presentation. Great bun/condiment/preparation options. GREAT F#$%ING FRIES! The Kennebec heirloom potatoes produced fries that are worth a website of their own. The only criticism was that the burgers tended to be a bit overdone from the temp ordered. A near perfect burger. Low of 84; high of 92; average of 89.

Butcher & The Burger -- Oh, The Fries!

Butcher & The Burger

Friday, September 30, 2011

Poag Mahone's -- The Verdict

The Summertime $5 Burger Challenge ends not with a whimper, but with a bang. Further, the challenge ends in a way only a lawyer could love -- it's no longer summer, and the burger didn't cost $5. Technically, though, diners might be able to find it at $5 or less on alternate Tuesdays from 4:05 to 4:15, in months lacking an "R," or something like that, so perhaps it qualified. But, who cares? It was a great burger at any price. That was no surprise to one of our group, who was closing in on his centennial burger at Poag's. "Flavorful," "juicy," and "perfectly cooked." If you can find a better everyday lunch burger in the loop, you're a lucky man. "Pretzel bun, grass fed, perfect execution = #WINNING." And the fries! Both regular, and even the sweet potato fries got thumbs up. "The best sweet potato fries I've ever had, which I realize is like winning the hottest geek grandmother contest. But still." All in all, "an underrated gem." Low of 83; high of 88; average of 85.

Exhibit 24 -- Poag Mahone's

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Top Notch Beefburgers -- The Verdict

The Summertime $5 buyer challenge rolls on, rolling all the way to Beverly for a trip to Top Notch Beefburger. This place is old school. "Return with us now to the thrilling days of yesteryear" old school. Top Notch has a reputation and value proposition, offset somewhat by the commute should you be traveling from downtown. Regardless, much excitement from our visiting judge, who finds that the diner ambiance and signature burger takes her back to her childhood. While there was a bit of variation in the scoring, our panel of judges all loved the old school feel and the addictive shakes. The burger itself, reportedly finding its origins in the legs of our bovine suppliers, varied a bit. For our guest judge, it was the meaty equivalent of Proust's madaleines, defining the burger against which all others are measured. For others, it was "solid," "meaty -- in a good way," but a bit "basic." Certainly, it was not the juiciest of preparations. That said, the nostalgic burger, tasty (if, perhaps not, "unique" fries), and life-changing shake, all make Top Notch worth the trip. Low of 74; high of 87; average 79.

Exhibit 23 -- Top Notch Beefburgers

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

BIG & little's -- The Verdict

We stopped watching Gordon Ramsay yell at hapless Americans some time ago (though we still have fond memories of the BBC version of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares). Nonetheless, maybe we quit too soon since we missed "Chef Tony" in Season 6 of Hell's Kitchen. The Summertime $5 Burger Challenge really hit its stride at BIG & little's, Chef Tony's burger shack just North of Chicago Avenue. (We understand both BIG and little will be moving a couple of blocks down the road in a few weeks.) "A fantastic burger experience." "They keep it simple and nail it." What the joint lacked in seating, it made up in taste. Perfectly charred beef flavor and cooked-to-order, you'll get a juicy burger in your basket with waxed paper, served with an equally impressive basket of fries. I don't think Ramsay's decorators had much to do with the decor, but you'll be too busy wiping your fingers to notice. (Other items on the menu entice -- the smores bacon tacos and fried grilled cheese -- but are ultra vires for this blog.) Low of 76; high of 83; average of 79. Well done, Chef.

Exhibit 22 -- BIG & little's