Review #17: Brewmasters Bar and Grill (Raleigh)

  • Joint: Brewmasters Bar and Grill
  • Burger: The Hangover (Michael), The Brewmaster (Scott), The Standard (John)
  • Category: Classic Rocks (John), Look at Me! (Scott and Michael)

Michael’s Review

Michael’s review: 4.75 out of 5.

Scott’s Review

The life of a burgiatrist's wife has certain...advantages.

Despite being married to a celebrated burgiatrist, a former research fellow at Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Meat Pies, my wife isn’t much into hamburgers. (Nobody’s perfect.) So when I saw the expression of burger joy on her face as she savored the Brewmaster Burger at Brewmasters Bar and Grill in downtown Raleigh (formerly the Cherry Bomb Grill), my suspicions were confirmed: This burger is something special.

For the first time since being becoming a PhB, I returned to an establishment for a second visit within a week of the first. This burger—a shockingly delicious ménage of bleu cheese crumbles and cherry “beermalade” on a truly fine patty (ringing with notes of rosemary and Worchester)—had enchanted me, captivated me, bedeviled me, to the point where I was drawn back to the corner of Martin and Dawson Streets yet again, mouth open, like a baby chick squeaking for more.

The details of my second visit were different: I was with my betrothed on date night, as opposed to my burgiatric brethren on burger night; I sided with the tasty homemade mac salad instead of the masterfully crisped fries; I traveled farther down their highway of 66 beers, enjoying a Shotgun Betty instead of the previous week’s Blue Moon. The entrée, however, was exactly, blissfully, the same: the hand-crafted, sweet n’ savory, don’t-talk-to-me-I’m-eating, toppings-are-gonna-dribble-on-the-plate-but-that’s-OK-they’re-condiments-now, Brewmaster Burger.

The burgiatric moral of the story is this: When you go for your first Brewmaster, be sure to tell your wife—or husband, or girlfriend, or pal, or mail carrier, or hamster—not to be insulted if you don’t take them along. You can explain that you’ll take them next time. You’ll be back.

Scott’s review: 4.75 out of 5.

John’s Review

Now here’s a genuine surprise! A Classic Rocks that rocks just fine in the category, while throwing in a couple of swanky dance moves that will please the Snooty Beauty crowd.

The Standard burger at Brewmasters is a unique Classic Rock (more on that oxymoron later): a fresh, high fat—ground chuck, most likely—patty perfectly charred on a venerable flat grill that tells epic stories of its ancestral patties through its deep and meaningful flavor. (As a side note, and in perhaps the most didactic line of this review, I’ll inform you that every bit of this history-infused flavor exists soley in the charred edges of the patty—and oh how magical those bits of sizzled beef fat can be! Your homework to fully absorb this knowledge awaits you at Johnson’s in Siler City.) From here, suffice it to say that the American cheese, veggies, and mayo were all up to standard for the Classic category; they were fresh, colorful, flavorful, and stacked in proper build order. All the ingredients came together in harmony, and endorphins flowed freely in the warm moments of burger bliss.

Hmm. How can I use the word oxymoron in my review?

Now, about that oxymoron…How can a burger be both a Classic Rocks and unique?

It’s those swanky dance moves I mentioned…an unusual bun and a surprising flare of flavor.

We asked about it, and the bun—brought in fresh from a local baker—was identified as a Kaiser. Those of you familiar with my disdain for the use of Kaiser rolls in burguisine will certainly anticipate a complaint. There is none. And though I will not question the baker on the classification of his own buns (nor would I question ANYONE on the classification of their own buns), I have to say that it was like no Kaiser I’ve encountered. This one was soft, even moist. It had the outward appearance of a Kaiser, but the texture and flavor of perhaps a potato roll. I was pleased by this, and even though I would have preferred an eggier, or more classic potato roll, I was content. Definitely a unique aspect of this burger, but perhaps more surprising and unique was the seasoning involved with the patty. Notice I say “with” and not “in” the patty, as I would never classify a burger as a Classic Rock if seasoning had been mixed into the pre-cooked patty. The indirect seasoning of this patty came from the methodology they employ in caring for and cooking on their very special flat grill. The result is a rich undercurrent of flavor that surprises, excites, and satisfies. These are the aforementioned surprising and sophisticated Snooty Beauty elements of this burger, yet it remains a true Classic Rocks. And I thought I’d seen it all!

One more thing…With such a strong undercurrent of great flavor comes the one exception I must make: Most great Classic Rocks burgers are capable of being blissfully devoured once per week, if not once per day. Because of this one’s unique flavor—wonderful though it may be—burger lovers might find themselves longing for the comfort of the true standard at that kind of frequency. With that one caveat, this is also not one to me missed, and I’m pretty sure I could dig on one every other week for the rest of my life without looking back.

4.5 out of 5. A strong, and surprising, Classic Rocks.

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