3640 Sacramento St
Tess of the B'urgervilles and I chose the highly revered and well-reviewed Spruce as our burger destination. Spruce really was a fantastic restaurant--the wait staff was incredibly knowledgeable--the service was impeccable--the appetizers (perfectly cooked asparagus and Gruyere Gougeres) were remarkable. Sadly, the burgers did not meet the level of excellence that we had experienced from Spruce in other areas.
The Burger Breakdown...
The Beef: Spruce sourced their Chuck from Niman Ranch, and this Chuck was ground in-house to a custom ratio of a whopping 30% fat. As you might imagine, this made the bite quite greasy. The finely ground beef provided nearly no beef flavors, and it was devoid of any funk from aging. The beef was very bland.
The Seasoning: The beef was thoroughly but unevenly seasoned. The edges of the patty were very salty, while the center was meekly seasoned.
The Sear: The burgers were grilled, so a sear was only partially present.
The Preparation: In spite of the heavy fat content, the burgers were overly chewy. This was due to the fine grind--too much surface area for the proteins to create new bonds. It is likely that the beef was also over-manipulated during the patty forming process.
The Cheese: The Vermont Cabot White Cheddar was competent and full of Cheddar flavors, but it was completely lost in the grease and salt from the patty.
The Bun: The hook at Spruce was the house-made English Muffin. While the bun was wonderfully toasted, it was saturated with butter. Simply holding the burger resulted in greasy fingers. What was worse was the overwhelming rush of butter at the end of the bite. This was discordant with the other flavors.
The Meat to Bun Ratio: This was perfect.
The Fries: The house-cut, peel off fries were wonderful. They were twice fried in rice bran oil. This made them perfectly crisp and golden brown. In addition, the oil gave the fries a distinctly and pleasantly nutty flavor. The fries were the best thing on the plate.
The Toppings: The sliced tomatoes were truly excellent, and the fried mushrooms were splendid.
The Value: The cheeseburgers at Spruce were twelve dollars each, but that was twelve dollars for a dish that we chose not to finish. The oiliness of the beef and bun was just too much, and we relented after eating half.
Spruce served up a burger that would have aced the SATs, but it would have been unable to write a decent essay. The burger was overwrought and over-thought. It was simply too rich to be enjoyable.
Burger Review : The Spruce burger can be safely avoided. Everything but the burger was far better.