Monday, November 30, 2009

Armadillo Willy's Barbecue - Sunnyvale, CA

161 E. El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
http://www.armadillowillys.com/

I went to visit the family up in NorCal this weekend--I am plenty thankful they do not live in some shiteous place like St. Louis or Ft. Myers, FL! They decided to drag me over to Armadillo Willy's Barbecue for a hamburger, and I thought "why the hell not?"  I have actually eaten here before, and vaguely remember the brisket sandwich (not awesome) which did not bode well.

I got myself the  cheeseburger, and it was as tasty as a Thanksgiving fart! I asked for medium rare, and they gave me a thin, well-done, plastic tire. This patty was tasteless and meaningless, and its existence was drowned out by the massive bun that completely overwhelmed it. If you dropped this armored burger from a tall building, it would be unharmed....like some sort of Physics project. Now I know why they call it Armadillo Willy's. Also, they try to dress up this burger with various condiments, but they fail.

To be fair this place is primarily a Texas Style BBQ joint, and hamburgers are not the specialty. If you ever happen to visit this place you should probably go with the brisket sandwich. Stay away from the burgers!!! You're welcome.

Overview: You are warned!  Also, I am an idiot for expecting a different outcome at a BBQ place.  Next, I will order steak at an Indian restaurant.

Rating...1 Bite

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tessaro's -- Pittsburgh, PA

4601 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224-1922
(412) 682-6809
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-11:30pm
Tessaro's Place Page

For about 25 years or so now, Tessaro's has been considered by many to be the best burger in Pittsburgh. You'll be happy to know that they live up to this billing, as it also ranks among the finest burgers in the world. This has long been one of my favorite burger stops, and it is an absolute requirement that I make at least one visit to their establishment any time I find myself in Pittsburgh.

Tessaro's legendary sear
When you first walk into the restaurant, you are immediately smacked in the face with the smell of the wood-fired grill. That's right -- not gas, but real mesquite. This is part of why their burgers taste so damn good. The other part is the meat. Every burger is a half-pound (after cooking) of fresh ground meat, with the patty not even formed until you place your order. It's a perfect blend of chuck, filet, sirloin, and steak trimmings, a process overseen by their former meat supplier, who arrives at 5am each day on his way to work to grind dozens of pounds of meat.

The burger that arrives at your table is perfection on a fresh-baked bun. It has excellent crust, which is surprising for a flame-grilled burger. It is perfectly juicy no matter the level of doneness. The mesquite imparts a good deal of flavor into the meat, without being an overpowering influence. On this particular occasion, the kitchen cooked mine a bit more than the
medium I had requested (a rare mistake, mind you), but it still was the best burger I'd had since the last time I visited Tessaro's.

I prefer just a plain cheeseburger, with a small amount of ketchup and mayo, but they do offer more "gourmet" options, such as a mushroom-swiss option and a barbecue option (if you like it hot, try their atomic sauce). Save that for your second visit, though -- you need to fully appreciate the flavors that come with just meat-on-bun. Oh, and if you're with some lame-ass who doesn't like burgers, there are plenty of other fine options on the menu.

In short, you can easily justify a trip to Pittsburgh just to try a Tessaro's burger. It's that good.

Rating...5 Bites

Steak 'n' Shake

Website

I was home for Thanksgiving--Fort Myers, FL--God's waiting room.  Five Guys was a trek, so I decided to brave a Steak 'n' Shake with Happy Meal.  I was planning on choking down a miserable, fast-food shame and rage sandwich, but this turned out to be a damn fine cheeseburger.

I got the Double Steak Burger.  Pretty DARN good.
  • Sweet, toasted, buttered bun
  • Two razor thin patties of average quality beef.
  • A nice crust from the griddle.
  • The burger meat was pressed flat with a sizzling grilling weight. This achieved a crunchy sear on the uneven loosely formed patties.
  • A dash of seasoning.  
  • The cheese--American--melted perfectly on the drive home. 
  • Fries...Meh.
This cheeseburger was satisfying as hell. It was a step below Five Guys in terms of value and quality of ingredients, but it also saved me a 5 mile drive, so it was a draw.  On the plus side, the gave Happy Meal some cool swag, so that kept him busy while we were awaiting our freshly cooked burgers.

BONUS--The Fort Myers, FL Steak 'n' Shake was open 24 hours.  Morbid obesity was tough to avoid.

Burger Review :  A damn, fine fast food burger--Want.

Rating...3 Bites

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Comme Ça -- West Hollywood, CA

(323) 782-1104
8479 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Comme Ça Website

Reviewed again on 01FEB11 with a very different outcome...

Yeah, you need to eat here.

Orignally, I had planned to come to Comme Ça with my CTO (Chimp Training Officer) and Captain Cheddar at 9:00 AM that morning, since Comme Ca opened for Sunday brunch at that time, but those two wussed out, and we all agreed upon noon.

It was a $16 cheeseburger, and they assumed that we wanted them Med Rare--good for them. They also assume that we wanted a cabbage and onion slaw on it--bad for us. Get this on the side if you want to taste the burger. If you order it with slaw on the side, you get the burger on the left--if you read this and order it with the slaw--watch your back, Chachi.

This was a truly fantastic burger. After the bad run of consistently lousy burgers, this burger seemed to have been flown in by angels. It was perfectly cooked, and it had a mighty, crusty, dark, well-seasoned sear, which yielded to reveal a juicy red interior of properly ground, not overly-fatty beef.


The bun was little on the dry side, yet it did not quite contain all of the juices from this ball of joy. It the same sort of bun that you'd get at The West Branch or Olives, but it was not as perfectly executed.


The cheese, Cheddar, and as one can see, it was perfectly melted over the patty to deliver uniformity.

The burger did lack an end-note, but a dab of mustard or a sip of whiskey (CTO-style) solved that. Presumably, the slaw was to provide that, but that would have been a messy distraction.

It came with fries, which were par-fried, thin, and overcooked, so they came out on the dry and dark side--they were also unseasoned. Who the hell cares--I could do without the fries at Umami and Five Guys, too.

Burger Review : The next best thing to Umami Burger in a higher-end establishment and with a higher-end price tag. Want.

Rating...4 Bites 

Editor's Note: That was the old, and good Comme Ca. The new version with a different chef and VASTLY inferior ingredients was pig awful.  If you tried the old Comme Ca, then you had a truly marvelous burger. The latest iteration...PASS.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Irv's -- West Hollywood, CA

8289 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046-5925
Phone: (323) 650-2456


Irv's has been around for effing ever. Established in 1950, so you'd think that they would have their collective crap together 59 years later. It's a cool joint, and the lady that runs it , Sonia Hong, was bubbly, outgoing, and really led off with a great first impression.


The burger came out on a paper plate, and it was wrapped in white paper with a friendly, hand-written note on the plate. It was piping hot---a first---and it was incredibly refreshing to get a hot burger that stayed hot. This was because they toasted the bun on both sides the entire time that the burger was cooking, so that bun was heated throughout and had a satisfying crispness..an excellent touch. The cheese..American...the patties..thin and pretty lean. The taste...that's were the whole thing went wrong. The taste was nonexistent. This was a miserably bland burger---I really wanted to like this, but it was just a waste of time and money. Too damn bad. If only they could have seasoned the beef and gotten a sear from the griddle onto the patty...the beef was barely browned. All burger joints should be schooled in the Maillard Reaction, because it is key to a decent burger.

Anyway...Sonia was too nice to declare the burger "crappy." It was just utterly neutral.

Burger Review : Pass

Rating...2 Bites

Friday, November 20, 2009

Father's Office Redux -- Culver City, CA

No address is given, because I do not want anyone to find it.
Website

I hadn't ventured into Father's Office for years, but I recalled the burger as being abhorrent...my recollection was correct. This time Fat Bruce Lee and I went to the Culver City location, and found that, if nothing else, Father's Office was consistent. I would not have returned ever again based upon that first experience, but these d-bags (pictured) swore up and down that Father's Office made an amazing burger. It's our job to choke down the worst so that our readers don't have to, so we bravely allowed gustatory history to repeat itself.

It was as if Father's Office set out to make a colossally awful cheeseburger, but then they just effortlessly vaulted over that bar to produce something truly egregious. The complexity and thoroughness with which this meal went wrong would require a white board to really show all of the ways that this was awful, but I will do my best. We know that this review does not reflect what many may feel about this place, but it is an honest and accurate description of our experience.

Ready...Set...Terrible!

1. They did not let me order the burger with less stuff on it. It came with caramelized onions, a blend of cheeses, and arugula.  Yep, I didn't attempt to substitute anything.  I asked to simply leave stuff off to avoid wasting those ingredients.  As a result, those ingredients (onions and arugula went straight to the trash. I get that they don't want substitutions, but this was actually asking to do less.
1.a. Caramelized onions were sweet, slimy, and greasy. GROSS
1.b. Arugula....a bitter green. WHY?
2. I did enjoy a scene at the bar where a woman was rebuffed for attempting to order a drink containing vodka. She was condescendingly informed that Father's Office does not stock vodka at the bar. They knew what was good, and it wasn't vodka. The bartender actually chastised her for ordering something as flavorless as vodka. Comedy.
3. The fries showed up at least 10 minutes before our burgers. I recalled ordering a burger with fries rather than fries and then a burger.
4. The fries came with tartar sauce. Well, aioli,, but aioli, which most closely resembled tartar sauce--unpleasantly oily tartar sauce.
5. I asked for ketchup, and I was told that they do not have ketchup-- Neat....greasy, shoestring fries dipped in a thick, oily sauce.
6. The burgers were served on crusty rolls, which were slathered in butter.....greasy. Without the extra fat, these would have been OK.
7. The burgers were ground Sirloin--a fine start.  The burgers were seared on a griddle--excellent......but then they were either braised or held in a steam table, which saturated the crust and contained the rare interior of the burger in a 3/16 of an inch, rubbery rind of grayish meat and waterlogged sear. It made for an unpleasant mouth feel.
8. This also served to preserve all of the liquid fat inside of the burger, so when I bit into it, it leaked/squirted grease into my mouth. That coupled with the really oily, Bleu/Gruyere cheese blend on top of the burger, and I had a greasy mess on my hands. Frankly, the only thing that kept this abomination from soaking my hands up to the wrists in grease was the hard crust of the roll.
9. The beef was dry-aged Angus, so it had a nice funk to it, but it needed savory seasonings or condiments to overcome the sweet residue of the onions and the braise (or whatever it was they did to wreck the outside).
10. Speaking of which, don't bother requesting mustard and salt--they didn't have mustard--the salt...I waited 5 minutes, for it to be grudgingly be dropped off in a plastic condiment cup rather than a proper ramekin.
11. They were not busy--only 1/3 full, but the service was not only dismissive, but it was also incredibly inattentive--not one person was remotely curious as to the quality of the food......It brought to mind the first bar scene in Desperado:
Short Bartender
: What do you want?
Buscemi: Beer.
Short Bartender: All I got is piss-warm Chango.

Bitter, slimy, greasy, sweet, bland, and rubbery are not things associated with a good burger--these are things that you might find in a diaper. These were all things associated with the Father's Office cheeseburger. This was a lousy, excuse for a burger. Honestly, the only reason that I did not purge that abhorrent thing was due to the fact that I did not want to taste it twice.

They might as well have called this place "Father Knows Best", because they were obnoxious and recalcitrant regarding the accommodation of any requests, and they stubbornly put out a consistently awful product. Chef Sang Yoon was behind this burgerpocalypse. What boggled (and continues to do so) my mind was that the citizens of Los Angeles continued to eat and crow about this pile of greasy crap. At the time of this posting, and well past that, there was a discussion board on ChowHound.com where they actually defended this outhouse on a bun. 

Sadly, this father--Chef Yoon--was an obnoxious hack who put style above substance and delivered a miserable dining experience and a pig awful cheeseburger. Amazingly, Father's Office managed to screw up ground sirloin--it took a real effort to turn that into garbage.

Burger Review : NO!

Rating...1 Bite

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

La Dijonaise -- Culver City, CA

8703 Washington Boulevard
Culver City California 90232
tel: (310) 287-2770
Website

Of all of the French bistro burgers that we have enjoyed, this was not one of them. What the heck did we expect---it's a French bistro in Culver City. The real goal of the outing was to re-review Father's Office, since a co-worker claimed that the present review was unduly harsh. Naturally, Father's Office in Culver City was not open for lunch. La Dijonaise was packed, so it appeared that Father's Office was revenue opposed. STEEERIKE TWO! La Dijonaise was only about a block away, so we gave it a shot. Even the Zagats guys gave it props, so how bad could it be, right? Pretty GD bad.


It turned out the that place was Vegetarian-friendly, considering that the burger was pretty much meat-free. There was no point in telling them how to cook the damn thing--the picture is of a burger ordered as Med Rare. The patty was so thin, and they cooked the burger at such a low temp on the grill that by the time it got whatever meager grill marks we witnessed, the burger was well over-cooked. Somehow, ALL of the fat in the burger survived the cooking process, so the burger was also ridiculously greasy and rubbery.

The star of the show was the bun, and that was sad, because this is not BunBusters (BunBusters.com is not a porn site-but it should be). The bun looks like a thick, dry wreck. But, in fact, it was moist and would have been a perfect complement to a thick and properly cooked burger.

Burger Review : While this was not a complete sh#twreck. I would never eat a burger there again.

Rating...2 Bites

The Yard - Santa Monica, CA

119 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90401
www.theyardsm.com

I did not even know this place existed 24 hours ago, but my buddy mentioned it for dinner so I went to check it out. Upon arrival we learned that the chef was Chris Jacobson from the popular TV show, "Top Chef," and the place came across as a trendy little gastropub. Obviously, at this point the expectations began to rise. There was one burger on the menu, and it was an 8-ounce blend of ground chuck, short rib, and skirt steak for 12 bucks.
Purist Note: They also dress up this burger with tons of stuff, including 1000 Island dressing, which I asked to be put on the side.

In any case, I have to admit it was a damn fine burger, and I would rank this among the best of them. The burger to bun ratio was perfect, and it was cooked to a perfect Med Rare. This was a griddle-cooked burger with a thick, seared crust, which bore a surpising resemblance to Umami Burger--the bun also showcased the similarities between this burger and the Umami Burger. This burger featured Carr Valley Cheddar, which enhanced the firm texture of the burger with the gooeness of a creamy, melted cheddar. However, the service in the joint was atrocious. I actually finished my burger before they even brought out my buddy's pork belly. This is unacceptable, and it ruined my burger eating experience! I had to eat this burger in front of my starving friend. The chef actually did come out and apologize, and they deducted the cost of the dish while providing a free desert. Since they did respond in the proper fashion to this mishap I will go ahead and give the green light on this place

Burger Review : Great burger. Beware service!

Rating...4 Bites

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Zeke's Smokehouse -- West Hollywood, CA

CLOSED
7100 Santa Monica Bl.,
W. Hollywood, CA 90046

Again........AHT has let me down.....again. This time they gave Zeke's the usual fictional treatment and reviewed their burger as if it was worth eating.

#1 I am an idiot for eating a burger at a BBQ joint.
# 2 Comme Ça on Melrose was closed at the time, so this was a plan B burger.
# 3 I got lost on the way there, so I ended up driving past Umami Burger 2X.

The burger came out Med Rare, so kudos for cooking the meat correctly. It was unseasoned, and they barely got any char on it from the grill...this meant that the cooks had the flame set too low. The cheese (cheddar) was unmelted, because..............the cooks were incompetent at cooking burgers. So it goes---did I mention that Zeke's is known for BBQ? Besides, it wouldn't have really mattered. The big, honking, dry, sesame seeded bun overwhelmed the bland patty. I even got all R-rated on this thing and ate it topless. It was still unremarkable in every way. It was just uninteresting and unmemorable.

I bet that they make great BBQ, though.

Burger Review : Don't be a doink like me, and expect to get a good cheeseburger in a BBQ joint.


Rating...1 Bite






Heresy-- In-N-Out Burgers--Not Really Awesome

Locations--as mandated by CA state law--there are 1.5 In-N-Out shops for every Starbucks, so swing a cat, and you'll hit one.

OK, In-N-Out is considered pretty darn good, but have you ever tried one without all the toppings? I did--bun, meat, cheese, and you know what--it sort of sucked. I'm bummed, because this was one of my favorites before I tried some good cheeseburgers.  Ignorance was bliss.


  • The butter on the toasted bun overwhelmed the other flavors....at first.
  • The beef was rubbery, bland, and thoroughly overcooked--the texture and crunch came from the bun.
  • It was dry--this burger actually needed the toppings to make it moist enough to get down without a lot of beverage.

  • It was salty as hell. That's about all that I tasted--salt and butter. Without that Thousand Island sauce to provide a sweet counterpoint, this was an overly salty dish.
  • The beef had no aged or iron notes to provide even a little complexity.
  • It's too bad that the Secret Menu didn't have a "good burger" option. 
  • The fries were miserable. Mealy, mealy, mealy, rubbery, and limp.
From a purist point of view--In-N-Out burgers are a pass.

PS--the fries are much better at Five Guys, too.

Burger Review : Not great.

Rating...2 Bites

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tom's #5 -- Culver City, CA

9004 Venice Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 204-0225

While killing time waiting for the plumber to show up,
we got hungry enough to brave a small burger counter in Culver City. It was only a mile from home base, and we had to pass an In 'N' Out to get there. 

Tom's #5 was a classic hamburger counter joint--plastic trays with burgers wrapped in paper.
 
The Burger Breakdown...


  • Flat, preformed, burger patty.
  • Griddled hard to Well Done
  • Thin patties that curled at the edges a little--in spite of that, they remained juicy.
  • Not seasoned, but lots of blood and beef flavors, so not all bad news.
  • Not greasy.
  • The big, moist, seeded bun really worked on this burger--toasted on both sides.
  • American cheese, which was just fine.  I got the double for 5 bucks--double cheese, so--double awesome.
  • Meat to Bun ratio was dead on.

It was a lot like what McDonald's would be like if it didn't.....never mind. Fresh ingredients prepared competently. Completely uninspired, but completely satisfying. Like a dive with a degree of difficulty of two that scored a 9.8. In other words, Tom's #5 served a good, average burger for a fair price. 7 bucks for a big ass, double cheeseburger, a side of fries or rings, and a kiddie pool-sized fountain drink.
 
Burger Review : Sure, why not?


Rating...3 Bites

The Habit Burger Grill -- Torrance, CA

http://www.habitburger.com/
26 Locations in Southern California

Here is where I start feeling like the bad guy, because the people and service in this joint were top notch. I don't really want to talk smack about these happy people, but they all have this beaming grin as if though they KNOW they are serving the best burger on planet earth. When I jokingly asked the cashier if their burger was better then In-N-Out he unsurprisingly responded with "Habit Burger is the best of course." It was not the answer that irked me, but more so the cheesy "Wink and the Gun" that followed it. That was my first warning. However, I ordered the double charburger with cheese and a side of fries and went about my business. The overall ambiance and ordering methodology reminded me of In-n-Out, which would become a recurring theme. As a matter of historical reference In-N-Out Burger was started in 1948, and Habit Burger Grill came along much later in 1973.

As I sat down with my food it seemed promising, but after a few bites I realized that this was just a second rate version of the In-n-Out masterpiece. The flaky bun really annoyed me. On the soda cups they have a slogan that says, "There is no substitute for Qualtiy," and I was thinking to myself "There is no substitute for In-n-out." It's an average chain burger at best. Unless your car is stuck in front of HABIT in a blizzard with 10 inches of snow and you are experiencing the early stages of frost bite, then get your ass to an In-n-Out a mile away.

Overview: If there is an In-n-Out nearby then don't make a HABIT of this burger!

Rating...2 Bites 

Editor's Note: This cheeseburger was more thoroughly reviewed again on 27NOV10, and it earned a better rating.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Philly West Bar & Grill -- Los Angeles, CA

Address--don't worry about it. I plan to drive my car through it tonight and destroy that place--tomorrow it will be a smoking ruin.

If you are what you eat, then I am now part crap.

This was worst cheeseburger that we have ever choked down. We had a weak moment and trusted a Yelp review--we must now track down those reviewers and knee them in the face. Honestly, it was so bad that we finished it to save some unsuspecting possum or stray cat the unenviable task of eating and digesting those abominations disguised as a burgers.

If you are getting the sense that this burger was horrific, then you are on the right track, Chachi. It was all bad.

1. The thick, oblong "burger" patty was served on a non-toasted, COLD, Philly cheese steak roll--Father's Office-style (Assholes)
2. Vulcanized to the point that it was like eating the center of a golf ball.....with less flavor.
3. Completely tasteless. It had all the flavor of a prosthetic hand.
4. The "grilled" onions were more like blanched tapeworms with the consistency of rawhide laces.
5. The white American cheese was indistinguishable from the mayo.
6. The fries were bitter due to being cooked in really old oil.

What was profoundly amazing is that they served that freaking thing with a straight face. It was so GD bad that we were laughing at how horrible it was.

Eating this thing was a public service. After eating this, I was so dead inside that I asked my fellow Burger Buster to punch me in the face just so I could feel something....anything.

Burger Review : NO!

Rating...1 Bite

Monday, November 9, 2009

PJ Clarke's Sidebar -- East Midtown NYC

http://pjclarkes.com/sidecar/menu.php

Address:
316 3rd Ave
New York, NY
(55th and 3rd)


The last time I was in New York, I was in the mood for a burger. Since I was unable to get in touch with my burger expert friend, I decided to go off on my own in search of a good one (near my hotel). My trek brought me to a little joint called PJ Clarke's. It's kind of an old-school cocktail bar, with a smallish dining room in the back. When I walked in, I noticed a raw bar that looked and smelled pretty fresh, so I was fairly certain I would get some decent beef.

Now, on to the burger. When it came out, it was not much to look at. It was a standard griddle-cooked burger. The bun likely came from a bag labeled "Wonder." However, one bite and I knew this was the real deal. First off, the patty was a bit thicker than your standard American-style burger. More importantly, there was some pretty high quality beef between those store-bought buns. It had a nice sear, and while cooked a bit beyond the medium-ish I requested, it was still perfectly juicy.

Oh, the fat guy from Lost claims this to be his favorite cheeseburger, and you don't get fat eating stuff that you don't like.

Burger Review :  This isn't some orgasmic, blow-you-away burger. It's just a very good one.

Rating...4 Bites

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Genesis Bar and Restaurant -- Upper East Side -- NYC

1708 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128
(btwn 88th & 89th St)
212-348-5500
Website

I was riding in the elevator on the way to my friend's apartment and raving about the burger at the West Branch (afterglow, and a kind stranger suggested that I try the Genesis. Most people's taste is in their ass, but I took a chance--hell, it was two blocks away--and I would like to thank that masked man, whoever he was.

The Genesis boasted that its beef was 100% Angus. I asked the waitress which cut, and she replied, "angus." No point in torturing her--I dropped it, but with a lowered expectation of being served ground Angus brain and tongue.

What arrived at the table were a couple of flawless burgers. Grilled but with a decent sear, perfectly cooked, the cheese draped over the burger like frosting on a cake, and the seasoning was dead on. While these burgers were flawless, nor were they amazing or especially memorable, they were simply well-crafted examples of the art.

The fries were an unmitigated, limp, greasy wreck. Still, this isn't FryBusters, but be warned--they were completely awful.

Burger Review : The best burger on the Upper East Side with pig awful fries on the side.

Rating...3 Bites

JG Melon -- Upper East Side -- NYC

1291 Third Ave., New York, NY 10021
at 74th St.

212-744-0585

JG Melon in a well-reviewed and Michellin-recommended establishment. The burgers are regularly raved about. Too bad JG Melon couldn't back up the hype with some cheeseburger game. I've been there twice in the last year, and I rate this one a whatever.

Seriously, a meh burger--nearly flavorless.  Great sear, but you've got to sear something into it. Utterly without character or flavor.

Burger Review : Whatever.

Rating...2 Bites

Thursday, November 5, 2009

brgr -- Midtown -- NYC

287 7 Ave
New York, NY 10001-6285
(212) 488-7500
http://www.brgr.com/

Go, brgr, go. They did one thing, and they doid it well.

The hook here was grass-fed beef. Normally, this ends up tasting green and miserable, but they made it work. The patties were small, so be sure to order a double. This was a perfect American-style (thin) burger. It had the high-quality meat, the well-seasoned, seared, griddled crust, a nice chunk of melted, sharp cheddar, and a toasted bun that just barely managed to contain the juiciness. It was so flavorful that there was no need for condiments.

When I unwrapped it, it promised to be a hot mess, but all that gooeyness and juice stayed put, and I didn't once reach for napkins.

In the word's of a fellow Burger Buster: "This is better than In 'N' Out."  It really was...the cheddar gave the burger added depth with overwhelming the nicely-aged beef.

Burger Review : The best American-style burger that we have ever sampled.

Editor's Note:  brgr was re-reviewed a year later, and it is no longer great. The new rating is far less exciting.

Rating...5 Bites (this was a 5 Bites burger--it has since faltered)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

HB Burger -- Midtown -- NYC

127 West 43rd St. Between 6th Ave and 7th Ave.
212-575-5848

At this point, I am ready to give up on SeriousEats.com. Their burger reviews are glowing BS by wannabe food critics that drop to their knees and worship lousy restaurants with gushing reviews in the hope that these works of fiction land them an actual reviewer’s job. Sadly, these doinks are ruining it for the rest of us. They simply provide misinformation and encourage the public to reward the purveyors of these crap sandwiches with our dough.

HB Burger:

Service—atrocious: the server disregarded everything asked of him and pretty much did whatever he wanted to do.

Burger—WEAK: overcooked, thin, underseasoned. A respected review site raved about the crust on this burger. It was pure fiction—there was no crust on this burger—just grill marks—it’s almost impossible to put a crust on a grilled burger.

Bun—WEAK: untoasted, cool to the touch, bland.

Fries—Overcooked.

Cleanliness—Try not to trip over the enormous cockroach that we found at the base of the stairs near the restrooms.

Frankly, HB Burger is probably aware that they serve a crappy product, but a good review prompted a test drive, and this is what happened.

Burger Review : Save your money—this is a bland, small, poorly prepared cheeseburger.

Rating...1 Bite

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The West Branch — Upper West Side — NYC

1278 Broadway at 77th
212-777-6764
http://www.thewestbranchnyc.com/
CLOSED

 A brief moment of silence for one of the best burgers that we ever tried.  The West Branch closed in early 2010.

Until early in 2010, when cattle were very, very good and had led virtuous lives full of good deeds, those cows were ground up and served as burgers at The West Branch.     \


Finally, a burger in NYC that lived up to a price tag in the teens—this one was worth every penny of the nineteen bucks. This was a perfect burger. I had gone back four times, and I do not live in NYC. One more time, and I would have been  forced to join the cast of the Biggest Loser where I would have paid Jillian Michaels to bite a hole in my cheek.

At center stage was a formidable, thick patty of coarsely ground chuck with something special. They ground aged, steak fat into the mix. Think “pancetta” but made from cows. This (tallow) is why the fries at McDonald's used to be spectacular.     Honestly, you could have infused a dog turd with this stuff, and it would have been hard to pass up. If theyhad found a way to weaponize it, our enemies would have forgotten what all the fuss was about.

Apologies for the crap photo--the Samsung Lotus does not come with a flash.........sigh.  

The burger had a perfectly even sear that makes you wish that it had even more surface area. The high heat at which the burger was cooked rendered the aforementioned fat so that it blended with the chuck to the point where everything tasted like steak. The sweetness of the toasted, buttered, sesame brioche perfectly offset the saltiness of the seared crust, and the cheddar, which they used bound the entire thing with a warm and gooey finish. Meat-to-bun ratio: Dead On!   They cooked the burger to medium rare, and anything beyond that would have been criminal, Med Rare---warm, red, center, in this case.

Other stuff: The pickles were sweet, crinkle cut dill, which were made on site. If you get the lamb sausage and white bean appetizer, you will discover that they also make the sausage on site. The fries were things of beauty, as well— thick, crispy skin with a creamy center and a generous dash of sea salt to finish them.

Call your cardiologist and apologize, because this was a burger that  had to be consumed in a single sitting. You would not have been able to stop in spite of your best intentions. WIN

Burger Review : It was truly great burger in NYC.

Rating...5 Bites

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