TSB’s Top Ten

Chuck's = 5.00
Only Burger = 4.88
Mojoe’s = 4.83
Al's Burger Shack = 4.75
Buns of Chapel Hill = 4.67
Brewmasters Bar and Grill = 4.67
Johnson’s = 4.50
Barry's Cafe = 4.50
Bonefish Grill = 4.42
Salem Street Pub = 4.33

The Straight Beef Podcast #19

What 5 burger trends are worth watching in 2015? Michael and Scott tackle ‘em all…down to the last pickled beet.

Subscribe to our podcast through iTunes or download the episode directly through Libsyn.

Reverend Rants: Don’s Sweet Juice

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Reverend Donald C. Corey

People often ask me, “Reverend, why ya drinkin’ that funny sodey-pop with your burger?” They tell me I should be imbibing some newfangled ale concoctions instead. To me, those things taste like they got concocted up in a public bathhouse. No, my flock, I do not sully or besmirch the burger with such rotgut. Instead, I pleasure myself with a drink so perfect, so heavenly, that it can salvage even the most heinous sins against burgiatry.

“What is this holy of holies?” you ask. The answer is something I call “Don’s Sweet Juice.”

Before I tell you the secret to DSJ, I’ll warn you that it’s delectable in ways that can only be described as magic. It so brims with explosions of flavor that you will never want for greater refreshment. It’s also got a mere one-third of the calories of a normal soda drink. Sounds too good to be true, I know. The Reverend hears you. Yet Don’s Sweet Juice may be found at most restaurants that offer fountain sodas.

Why isn't it blue?

Why isn’t it blue?

Here is your mission, my flock:

  1. Fill your cup halfway with ice.
  2. Add Diet Pepsi* to roughly the top of the ice.
  3. Here’s the tricky part: Fill about a 2/3 of the remaining empty space with regular Pepsi, leaving just enough room for a splash of additional Diet Pepsi on top.
  4. Drink and enjoy. It is best to be sitting as you do, as you might lose your balance as you soar to heaven.

Now go spread the word of this knowledge I have bestowed upon you. And rejoice, my flock.

*You are asking, “What about Coke? Can I substitute? The answer is yes, though the result will be “Don’s Slightly Less Sweet Juice.” Still better than any other beverage, but not in the same league as the pure DSJ, which is, quite frankly, like crack to me.

Amen.

Wanted: Burgiatrist

The Straight Beef is seeking a new member to join its merry band of burgiatrists.

Must live in the Triangle. Must be a sharp writer with an offbeat sense of humor. Must have strong social media/marketing skills. Must be in it for the laughs. Passion for burgers a plus.

Email thestraightbeef@gmail.com and convince us that you’re the burgiatrist we’re looking for.

Review #60: Elevation Burger (Raleigh)

ELEVATION: THE SOY LATTE OF HAMBURGERS

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Do you drive a Prius? Do you own a recumbent bike? Have you ever organized a protest? If you answered yes to any one of these, have we got a burger place for you!

Do you love hamburgers? Well…

Elevation Burger, one of the latest boutique burger chains to tackle the Triangle, talks a lot about sustainability, about organic and grass fed and free range. What it doesn’t talk much about is the delicious flavor of its burgers. There’s a reason for that.

An Elevation burger is a burger you eat on principle. Because you want to feel good about where your food comes from. Because you like companies that respect the environment. Because it’s the right thing to do. And because if you find yourself thinking, “Gee, this isn’t very good,” you can always console yourself with the printed menu, which depicts—in cheery graphics—how other burger chains hate cows and the Earth and are doing their best to destroy them.

Free-range, grass-fed beef can be a wonderful thing. However, in its zeal to appeal to the suburban soy-latte demographic, Elevation Burger placed fat—and hence flavor—too low on its checklist.

Elevation Burger’s vision is to be “much more than just a burger restaurant.” However, it might need to tackle the “burger” part before striving for the “much more.” That’s what we’d call sustainable.

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“You going to eat that?” “No.” “Me neither.”

Chad’s Review: 2.25 (though the fries are truly excellent)

The aftermath tells the tale. Four hungry and adventurous burger eaters sat down at the table. Three of us left our burgers unfinished. I picked through the remains of mine trying to salvage a dab of mustard or a leftover pickle, desperate for anything with some moisture or flavor.

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Don’s Review: 2.25

What I appreciate about Elevation Burger is that they know what’s best for you. If you order grilled onions and they don’t put them on the burger, as was the case with mine, it’s because you don’t need them. To me, it’s the burger you order on principle, and the one you don’t finish—on principle.

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Michael’s Review: 2.50

I’m guessing that the calorie count on the menu assumes—correctly—that you’ll leave a quarter of the burger on your plate.

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Scott’s Review: 3.25

My overall review was more positive than that of my colleagues. Though I did use an obscene amount of ketchup. (Seriously, Scott was nearly wrist-deep in ketchup by the time he finished his burger.)

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Overall ranking: 54 out of 60

The Straight Beef Podcast is on CodeBass Radio

We have exciting news. The Straight Beef Podcast is streaming on CodeBass Radio on Thursdays at 9:00 PM EDT. http://cbrtune.in

Review #59 – T.MAC (Cary, NC)

We’re positive people. We say yes to life. We subscribe wholeheartedly to the philosophy that unicorns and rainbows are awesome. And while the total downers of the world get their kicks from being judgy—including some party poopers who insist on assigning ratings to things that are perfectly fine—we remain firmly of the opinion that teddy bears and butterflies are freakin’ fantastic.

So when it came time to review the burgers at T.MAC in Cary, we didn’t dwell on the fact that the food was cold. We didn’t focus on the unremarkable size or flavor of the patty. Heck—we hardly noticed that the bacon was chewy, or that the bun was past its prime. That’s just not who we are.

Instead, when asked what we thought of the burger, we were kittens and sunshine all the way.

Hey, you guys went to T.MAC! How was the burger?

The layout of the restaurant was super-creative. The dining area and bar are separated by a raised platform of booths, which really gives the place a nice, open feel. And the long line of beer taps behind the bar is beyond impressive. We’re gonna say there had to be 100 taps back there. The accent lighting on the taps was phenomenal—really captures the eye. Really nice touch, lighting-wise.

Very cool! So how was the burger?

Honestly, you cannot go wrong with the beer selection at T.MAC. Huge kudos to our server for recommending the Brüeprint Brewing brunette brown ale. Definitely one of our new favorite local brews. And thanks to T.MAC’s powerful A/C system, we didn’t worry at all about the beers getting warm. In fact, we didn’t even have to take off our coats!

Um…okay…so…what about the burger?

The fries. Wow. T.MAC cooked them to perfection, then took it one step further by making sure they were cooked way ahead of time. We didn’t have to wait at all for the fries to cool off; they were already room temperature by the time we got them. Man, T.MAC really nailed the little things.

How. Was. The. Burger?

When we say that there were TVs everywhere, we mean everywhere. There was no direction you could look without seeing your favorite teams battling it out. It was pretty much a TV-watcher’s heaven. At the risk of overstating this, there are just an insanely great number of TVs.

Michael’s Review: 2.25 out of 5.0

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Scott’s Review: 2.0 out of 5.0

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Chad’s Review: 2.25 out of 5.0

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Don’s Review: 2.5 out of 5.0

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Overall ranking: 57 out of 59

Final note: Don’t quote us on this, but we’re gonna say the TVs were like 4K Ultra HD. Not too shabby!

Stoked!

Stoked!

The Straight Beef Podcast #18

Meet a man who earned his PhD in Fragrance and Flavor Chemistry. And yes—that’s a thing.

Subscribe to our podcast through iTunes or download the episode directly through Libsyn.

Review #58: Town Hall Burger and Beer (Durham)

In The Straight Beef Podcast #17, the following assertion was set forth: Hamburgers are by definition made of beef and served on a round bun. The controversy that followed was marked by a vitriol not seen in this land since badly miffed colonists dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.

I told you adding a veggie burger at White Castle would cause problems.

 

In an effort to quell the threat of burgiatric revolution, three of our senior burgiatrists traveled to Town Hall Burgers and Beer in Durham for a formal debate on the matter. Argument was heated. Freedom Fries were thrown.

What follows is an excerpt from that debate.

Michael “Royal Governor” Marino was first.

Moderator: Dr. Marino, state your burger.

Marino: I had the Carolina Burger—an Angus beef patty, ground in-house, topped with fat back, pimento cheese, and cole slaw, served on a brioche bun. My fellow Americans, this was truly an all-American burger. A burger of freedom. Sure, the cook used this freedom to cook my patty medium well, though I ordered it medium—thus knocking my rating down to a 4.25—but I stand firmly behind his right to wield his spatula as he sees fit. Freedom, I say!

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Chad “John Quincy” Ward was next.

Moderator: Mr. Ward, your position on what constitutes an “all-American” burger has historically been less traditional. Would you expand on that position within the context of your Town Hall burger review?

Ward: I will indeed, sir. Ahem. MY. FELLOW. AMERICANS. If our fine land is to be considered the “great melting pot, ” which it is, and a nation that embraces its myriad cultures and traditions, which it does, then I submit that Town Hall’s Lamb Burger is as American as any round-bun mainstay. Yes, it replaces ketchup with tzatkiki sauce and a round bun with a pita-style bread, but clearly, my friends, this is still a hamburger. And while the usual sharp flavor of tzatkiki was in this case a little tame, my patty was perfectly cooked and flavorful. Even the staunchest burgiatric conservative would agree this that burger deserved a 4.0 out of 5.

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Statesman Donald “Reverend” Corey was third.

Moderator: Reverend Corey, would you expound on—

Corey: Expound? I’ll give you expound, all right. Tzatkiki sauce? Pita bread? Brioche bun? What in the name of Uncle Sam doth mine eyes see? Clearly I am the only burgiatrist present today who recognizes a true American hamburger when he sees one, and the Town Hall Burger is it. The very description of the burger—topped with lettuce, tomato, red onions, grilled onions, bacon, eggs, and American cheese—had me waving my stars and stripes. But the proof was in the pudding. The over-easy egg broke perfectly with the first bite, showering the patty in golden sunshine. The beef was excellent in flavor and texture. And with a perfectly-toasted bun containing its glory, the Town Hall Burger’s greatness was clear from sea to shining sea. A 4.5 out of 5.

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Town Hall Burgers and Beer’s overall ranking: 14 out of 58.

The Straight Beef Podcast #17

Should non-beef burgers be allowed to exist? Find out in The Straight Beef Podcast #17.

Al’s Burger Shack Contest

We’ve recently become aware that one our local burger stalwarts, Al’s Burger Shack, has a contest for a new Thanksgiving burger. The Straight Beef took this as an opportunity to convene a conference in Geneva to discuss whether a burger can be called a burger unless the patty is made of beef. After 10 days of intense debate, we have agreed to disagree. Chad and Don feel that any ground meat that is shaped into a patty and served in a bun should be considered a burger. The old guard of Scott and Michael subscribe to the original definition of the burger which is that is has to be beef.

Scott’s suggestion that any non-beef burger be called a burger-like ground [insert animal here] sandwich was deemed too long to fit on most menus. We all agreed that any non-beef burger must include the meat that it is made of as a prefix.

It is with this in mind that we recommend you try your hand at burgiatric alchemy and come up with your own topping combination to win Al’s Burger Shack’s Thanksgiving Burger Contest. The official press release is below. Good luck.


 

Al’s Burger Shack, Chapel Hill’s classic burger stand, is challenging customers to put on their chef toques and create a holiday-themed burger.  The winning entry will be featured as a special at the Shack on November 20, 2014.

The contest kicks off today, October 21, 2014, and will accept entries until November 10, 2014.  Contestants must put their creative juices to work with the selected ingredients.  They must start with a turkey burger and then include a combination of cranberries, sweet potatoes, or stuffing (or dressing as we call it).  Bonus points will be given for using all three special ingredients.  Entrants may also add other items from their virtual pantry.

Al and an esteemed panel of local judges, including Andrea Weigl (@aweigl) of the News & Observer; Andrea Griffith Cash (@agcash) of Chapel Hill Magazine; Ron Stutts (@wchlchapelboro) of WCHL radio; and Jamil Kadoura, owner of Chapel Hill’s Mediterranean Deli, will evaluate the entries.  The judges will select three finalists on November 10.  On November 19 at 4 pm, the Shack will host a cook-off and the judges will sample the finalists’ burgers hot off the grill.  The winner will be announced at the end of the tasting.

Finalists will receive an Al’s Burger Shack t-shirt and $10 gift card.  The winner will receive a t-shirt, a $25 gift card, and have their recipe featured as the Shack special on November 20.

“We were blown away by the creativity of the entries for our first burger contest that we couldn’t wait to have another,” said Al Bowers, owner of Al’s Burger Shack.  “We’re thrilled to include local food editors, media, and a fellow chef as judges. I excited to see how the Shacksters tackle the holiday burger.”

The rules are simple:
Step 1: Like Al’s Burger Shack on Facebook.
Step 2: Create a recipe and submit (insert link) it
Step 3: Keep it fresh and make it tasty.
Join in the pre-holiday fun and show off your inner chef.  Enter today.
About Al’s Burger Shack
Al’s Burger Shack is Chapel Hill’s classic burger stand.  We use the finest ingredients, including pasture-raised NC beef and farmers’ market produce, to create our burgers, hot dogs and shakes. Real burgers. Real local. Real good. For menus, news, directions and more, visit alsburgershack.com.