Ok guys, I found a receipt in my pocket that shows I paid for a burger with fried egg, bacon, and American cheese at one “JD’s Tavern” in Apex. Did you guys pull a prank on me? I can’t remember the burger at all. I remember awesome buffalo shrimp, good conversation, a long wait for food, and a couple of laughs at Scott’s and Chad’s expense. That’s about it. Definitely no burger.
That makes sense—you do always get bacon and egg on your burger. Maybe you need something different in your life, like the pineapple and salsa meat sandwich I had. Wait—was it just a sandwich? Maybe it was a burger.
That certainly looks like a burger. Why can’t I remember eating it?
OK—this is slightly eerie. I also have a vague memory of eating at JD’s. When the four of us get together for an outing, we usually review burgers, right? But for the life of me, I can’t remember having one there. We wouldn’t have gone on a burger outing and not had a burger, though, right? Right? Please tell me I’m not losing it.
I also recall good conversation, decent beer, excellent Buffalo shrimp, and little else. I was as stunned as the rest of you to find a hamburger on my credit card slip, so I did a little research.
Burgiatra Britannica contains references, albeit incomplete, of a phenomenon called “burgnesia.” Apparently there were experiments done in the 1940s under a secret government program designed to determine if a foodstuff, most notably hamburgers, can be made completely forgettable. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) determined that under the right circumstances, a hamburger can be rendered so pedestrian that it is erased from the subject’s memory. I think that is what is going on here.
Nicely done, Major Beef. Another mystery solved. Now it’s coming back to me a bit—something about sliders with three-day-old buns and flavorless patties. I’m not sure I remember it well enough to give a rating, but I’ll go with 2.0.
Hey, Scott. Remember me? I still have one of your fillings.
Oh wait! Now I remember this burger. It was completely pedestrian. The goodness of the bun was countered by the fact the patty was way overcooked. I ordered the burger medium rare, and that was a solid well done. The meat was bland and dry, the fried egg was too hard, and the bacon was just…there. Rating 3.0.
I can’t walk. How can I be a pedestrian?
J.D.’s Tavern has either resurrected WWII stealth burger technology or they have inadvertently stumbled upon a burger that is so uninspired that the brain completely erases its consumption from recall. It is neither good enough to merit recognition nor bad enough to warrant space in memory. Whether they realize it or not, they have perfected the invisible hamburger. If I could recall it better, I would probably give it a 2.5. The overcooked burger itself deserved a 2.25, but the excellent brioche bun pulled it up.
Wait, I definitely remember Scott’s sliders. They deserved their own jaw muscle workout video, “Buns of Stale.” My pineapple salsa . . . sandwich . . . burger . . . whatever, was most notable for having pineapple and salsa on it. I give it a 2.75.
Scott and Michael talk about the joys and differences of flat grill vs. open grill cooking. Scott also puts Michael’s extensive condiment knowledge to the test. Download this episode and all of our back episodes with iTunes or directly from the Libsyn feed.
The Straight Beef’s recent Podcast #4 raised the critical issue of whether or not a patty melt is a legitimate hamburger. The answer to that question hangs on one’s belief in the importance of the bun. If the bun is a critical component, then the patty melt, which is traditionally served between slices of rye bread, is not a burger. If, as the Food Lover’s Companion says, a hamburger is “. . . a cooked patty of ground beef between two bread halves, usually in the form of a hamburger bun,” a patty melt is very definitely a variation on a hamburger just as a pimento burger is a variation on a cheeseburger. We’ll deal with this topic in greater detail (and with greater vitriol) in an upcoming review.
Why all the bun angst? Because the bun is important. The founding members of The Straight Beef are adamant that a kaiser roll is never a fitting delivery vehicle for a hamburger. Latecomer and burger iconoclast Chad believes that a kaiser roll is sometimes appropriate for pub-style burgers, those whopping half pound giants whose juiciness and overloaded toppings can sometimes overwhelm a lesser bun.
All agree, however, that the perfect hamburger bun for classic, diner-style, griddled hamburgers is the potato roll, specifically the Martin’s potato roll. Our friends at the Burger Lab at A Hamburger Today conducted a series of taste test that confirmed our findings. You can see the results here: The Burger Lab: What’s The Best Bun For My Burger?
Photograph by Robyn Lee, A Hamburger Today
The minions at The Straight Beef’s secret undergound lair and test lab are currently putting the finishing touches on the ultimate homemade hamburger bun recipe. In the meantime, this recipe from King Arthur Flour is a good start: Hamburger Potato Buns
1) Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead them — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a soft dough.
2) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it’s almost doubled in bulk.
3) Turn the dough onto a lightly greased surface, gently deflate it, and divide it into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
4) Place the balls into the greased cups of a hamburger bun pan, flattening gently. Or place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 2″ to 3″ between them; flatten gently.
5) Cover and let rise until the buns have doubled in size, 60 to 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
6) Bake the buns for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re light golden brown.
7) Remove them from the oven, and brush them with melted butter, if desired.
8) Transfer the buns to a rack to cool. Store buns, well-wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.
The voice of the Ancient Burgiatrist Kobe-Wan came quietly into the Straight Beef’s collective conscious:
“You will go to the Gorman Street System.”
“There you will sample the burger and learn its secrets, just as I did.”
The scene opens on The Straight Beef seated at Gorman Street Pub. They have just been served their hamburgers.
Scott: I have a bad feeling about this.
Don: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Chad: Kobe-Wan said we were to learn the secrets of these burgers, but it tastes like those secrets include a Bantha-load of spices – onion powder, garlic powder, red chile flake and cumin, lots of cumin – even on the plain burger.
Don: When I ordered my burger, I was not expecting it to have been seasoned at the spice mines of Kessel. After all, it was the Have It Plain burger—I just added bacon and egg. But alas, the burger is seasoned to the taste of a Wookie with a lot of ‘Arghhhhhhh’ (Don roars and pounds his chest, causing several patrons to turn and stare.) It overpowered the rest of the fixings and is a bit of a letdown.
Scott, Michael, and Chad were handed the wrong plates. Each samples his burger, realizes something is wrong, trades his plate . . . and then trades again. Still, they have a hard time determining which burger is which.
Chad: I ordered the Black ’n’ Bleu burger, Cajun rubbed with bleu cheese. When you can’t tell the plain cheeseburger from the Cajun spiced burger with bleu cheese, there’s a problem. Maybe “Cajun rubbed” means they have a Louisiana native chained in back who gives it a good pat down before serving.
Scott: The possibility of receiving the correct burger order is approximately 3,720 to 1.
Michael: Never tell me the odds!
Michael glances over at Chad who is chewing grimly and then glares at his burger.
Michael: My friend doesn’t like you.
The burger doesn’t respond.
Michael: I don’t like you either.
Scott: As senior Burgiatric knights we learned all learned the Way of the Grill, you “Do or do not. There is no try.” Gorman Street Pub doesn’t even try.
The Straight Beef departs Gorman Street Pub. As they exit, an eager young couple is entering the restaurant. Michael waves his hand in a complicated gesture in front of the man’s face.
Michael: These are not the burgers you are looking for.
Man: These aren’t the burgers we’re looking for.
Michael: You should go on about your business . . . perhaps at Only Burger, Chuck’s or one of The Straight Beef’s Top Ten.
The man glances at his wife.
Man: We can go on about our business at one of the Straight Beef’s Top Ten.
The man’s wife stares at her befuddled husband and then strides forward purposefully.
Woman: That’s just creepy. I’m going to have a burger.
Don: It’s a trap!
Woman: I’m not afraid.
The Straight Beef: You will be. Yoooou wiiiiilll beeee.
In this very special episode, Scott and Michael discuss perhaps the most hotly debated issue in the history of burgiatry. Also: We got some fancy new podcasting equipment, so you should be able to hear us now. (In stereo, no less.) Download this episode or all of our back episodes with iTunes or directly from the Libsyn feed.
This McDonald’s is right on the edge of the NC State campus. I know I tend to go on about the parking situation at these places, but this one ranks number one on my list of parking nightmares. There seems to be plenty of spaces, but at lunch it is almost impossible to find a space. It is so close to NC State that if you park anyplace but the dedicated parking lot, it’s a tow-away zone. Good luck finding a parking space.
When it is crowded, the service line is chaotic. The lineup policy seems to be as follows: Stand in a big, disorganized crowd. Eventually, somehow, make it to the front register. Though this adds undue stress to my outing, I let go of it once I get my food.
Atmosphere: The theme is everything NC State, with nice wall murals of State sports greats. There is an awesome full-size scoreboard attached to a rafter system you would see at an arena. The scoreboard has TVs on all sides and highlights some of the school’s past championships. The seating is all in one area, with half of the seats being hardback chairs and the other being high-back padded swivel chairs. I have to say that these high-back seats are the most comfortable seats I think I have ever sat in.
Quarter Pounder: The burger patty flavor is excellent. I was tempted to eat this one without a bun and condiments; it was very tasty. The bun was fresh, the onions crunchy. My only problem was that they didn’t put any care into assembling it. The patty was hanging off to one side, the pickles in a big clump (which I generally remove anyway), and onions were just piled off-center, and the ketchup just slapped on. After a little creative burger surgery, it was very delicious. Because of this lack of quality I will have to deduct a half point.
Fries: Are the fries burnt? They don’t taste burnt, but they are all dark brown. Oh, I see, they must cook them in really dirty oil. That is the only explanation I can come up with.
Durham’s popular Geer Street Garden—spitting distance from Duke Tower—offers one burger, infinite ways. The third of its three listed toppings—bacon, cheese, and “What-Have-You”—summoned the inner Seuss in each of us…
In the premiere episode, George visits classic burger joints in Los Angeles: the Apple Pan, Pie ‘n Burger, Marty’s, Charlie’s, and Irv’s. Check out some clips from the episode below.
New episodes of Burger Land will air on Monday nights. The first two episodes on April 15 and April 22 will air at 10 p.m.; starting April 29, new episodes will air at 9 p.m. If you need to catch a rerun, check Travel Channel’s schedule.
BurgerBusiness.com, the burger industry insider trade magazine, hosts a March Madness-style burger championship throwdown. This year’s winner is Burgatory, a two-restaurant chain from Pittsburgh. Burgatory defeated a host of industry stalwarts to win. Who knew that icons like In-n-Out and Five Guys would go down so early or that Bad Daddy’s would make it so far? More than 16,000 votes were cast.
Burgatory skillfully used its more than 10,500 Facebook likes and more than 3,800 Twitter followers to get out the word. The Pittsburgh Penguins tweeted their fans and urged them to vote for the burger joint that operates a highly successful burger-and-shakes stand in their home arena.
Did the best burger win? Or did the best social media strategy win? You be the judge.