Renegade Review: Crush Street Food (Prague, Czech Republic)

Czech burger truck

As I travel this crazy burger-loving world, it becomes increasingly obvious that burgers are attaining their rightful status as a national meal. It warms this burgiatrist’s heart.

My burgiatric travels recently took me to Prague, where I learned about a new burger venture called Crush Street Food (www.crush.cz). Jan Picha, the brains behind Crush, was driven to burger greatness. In order to get his burger to the people, he retro-fitted an old Citroën truck into a burger-making machine. I discovered this silver beast among a throng of food vendors—a veritable olfactory celebration—in the Andel area of the city.

Jan explained to me that today he was serving the Hovezi Burger—a beef burger topped with grilled red peppers, pickled red onions, tzatziki sauce, lettuce, cheddar cheese, and chipotle ketchup.

Czech burger

Quite simply, the burger was great. Fresh, hot, juicy, and very tasty—the burger grand slam. The patty was nicely charred, the bun was toasted perfectly, and the toppings did not overpower the perfectly seasoned patty.

Well played, Crush. Well played. And yes, I’ll take the easy pun: You crushed it.

Don’s score: 4.75 out of 5.0

Review #53 — Rally Point Sport Grill (Cary)

Strip Mall Surprise: A Recipe

skeptical-burgiatrist

The skeptical burgiatrist at work. An original watercolor.

Ingredients:

  • 3 skeptical burgiatrists
  • 1 generic strip mall sports bar
  • 3 burgers
  • 2 orders of hot wings

Preparation:
Receive an email about yet another “best burger in the Triangle!!!” with too many exclamation points and questionable source data from Rally Point Sport Grill in Cary.

Review painfully slow website. Preheat snark to medium.

Arrive at generic strip mall sports bar. Note the Skee ball machines and clusters of patrons at the bar—and the virtually empty dining room—and lower expectations to simmer.

Order wings and beers. Note with mild surprise the tastiness of the wings while lamenting the skimpiness of the beer menu. (Remember that too much lamenting this early in the recipe can lead to some bitterness.)

Order three half-pound burgers: one Carolina burger with chili and coleslaw, one Cheddar burger, and—taking one for the team—one Mac & Cheese burger, piled high with “homemade” macaroni & cheese that looks homemade only if your home is a blue box with “Kraft” emblazoned across it. Raise snark to high.

Take a bite.

Note the well-toasted, locally baked bun. Note the near-perfect sear and proper seasoning level on the patty. Reduce snark back to medium, raise expectations slightly. Chew thoughtfully. Take another bite.

Discuss quality of the burger with tablemates. Dial snark down to low. Remark on the high quality of the burger—with or without extraneous toppings—and completely rethink the experience.

Peel away previous bias and enjoy. Voilà! Strip Mall Surprise!

Tasters’ Notes:

  mac and cheese burger
Chad: I ordered the Mac & Cheese burger. The underlying hamburger patty was excellent, and the bun was perfectly toasted. They also get bonus points for house-cut fries. The mac & cheese provided nothing more than bulk and starch and took away from the experience of the burger itself. This is a well-deserved 4.0 for the burger alone.

Carolina burger

Scott: For a slightly spicier version of the recipe, add pinball machines, 70s-style paneling, and an unremarkable-looking joint serving an unexpectedly remarkable burger. I’m going all the way to 4.0-town for the Carolina burger.

Cheddar burger

Don: Cheddar Burger- Cheddar Cheese: I went with one of the most basic burgers listed and was struck by the nice char on the burger as well. The bun was great and perfectly toasted. My biggest complaint is with the amount of cheese that was used. It was lost on the burger. I don’t know if I actually tasted it in retrospect. All in all a very solid 4.0.

Overall rating:4.0, putting Rally Point Sport Grill at 22 out of 53.

RallyPoint Sport Grill on Urbanspoon

Review #52: Carolina Ale House (Cary)

This review is meant to be enjoyed with a friend—Mad Libs style!

Mad:)Takes - free online Mad Libs™
Mad:)Take

SPORTS-THEMED CHAIN RESTAURANT…VERY POPULAR…LIKE 10-15 LOCATIONS…HELL, JUST SAY “CAROLINA ALE HOUSE”
WORD YOU WOULD USE TO DESCRIBE EVERY STING SOLO ALBUM
PREDICTABLE BURGER TOPPING
SLIGHTLY LESS PREDICTABLE BURGER TOPPING
TRYING-TOO-HARD BURGER TOPPING THAT MAKES YOU SAY “REALLY?”
CELEBRITY WHO IS EXTREMELY FAMOUS, BUT YOU DON’T KNOW WHY
EXACT NAME OF COLLEGE COURSE YOU FOUND SO BORING THAT YOU FORGOT ABOUT IT UNTIL NOW
THING YOU’D MOST LIKE TO BE DOING RIGHT NOW, ENDING IN –ING
THE MOST UNPLEASANT ACTIVITY YOU CAN THINK OF, ENDING WITH –ING
LEAST ATTRACTIVE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE

Scott’s review: 4.25

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Chad’s review: 3.25

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Michael’s review: 3.25

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Overall ranking: 27th out of 52.

Carolina Ale House on Urbanspoon

Review #50 – Burger Five-0! Umstead Hotel Bar (Cary, NC)

(cue horns and surf guitars)

Book ‘em, Danno. Burger One.

It’s not every day that The Straight Beef conducts its 50th official review. Assuming that no one would recognize us if we disguised ourselves as upstanding citizens of means,  we duded up and headed to the swankiest Triangle-area joint with the word “burger” on the menu: The Umstead Hotel & Spa.

The Umstead is Cary’s luxury resort hotel. The hotel’s restaurant, Herons, is a five-star, five-diamond establishment – the kind of place where your tie is expected to wear a tie.

While we clean up well, we’re not five-diamond material. Five tater tots, maybe. Diamonds, not so much. We opted for the bar. The bar menu is more casual, and, more importantly, features a hamburger which Scott (Dr. Blumenthal, taking the place of Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett) had tried previously and raved about.

Umstead burger

The Umstead Burger: Vine Ripe Tomatoes, House Pickles, Choice of Cheese, Herbed Fries $18

We were in a great mood. We were celebrating a milestone in The Straight Beef and wanted to cap off our 50th review with a great score. The service was impeccable, the sides were well executed, the drinks paired up nicely. We had a great time, great conversation, and great drinks. The burgers . . . well, witness testimony varies.

Four undercover burgiatrists ordered four cheeseburgers, three medium rare and one medium. We received two medium rare burgers, one that was on the medium-well side of medium and one that was decidedly – frighteningly – rare. It wasn’t quite, “Oh my god, is it still pulsing?” rare, but it was close. Close enough that an experienced and adventurous eater felt the need to send it back.

Condiments

The Umstead does not skimp on condiments, though they are not house made

Don (the Reverend Corey, founder of Transcendental Burgiatry) said, “the Umstead was good, not great. I had to return my burger, and though the meat had great texture, I still thought it lacked a little flavor. The build was sloppy. The brioche bun was nice, but not as good as 9th Street Bakery brioche at Buns in Chapel Hill, and the tomato could have been more ripe. Overall it was around a 3.75 (especially when factoring in the re-burger).”

Michael (Dr. Marino, master of condiments) added, “I found the patty perfect in flavor and texture. As we discussed, I like the beef ground multiple times. The Umstead’s had a silky consistency that was a pleasure to eat. The fault was in the build. The bun was average as well. I gave it a 4.25.”

Don & Michael

The Reverend Don Corey and Dr. Michael Marino

Chad (former burgiatry supervillain) retorted testily, “Yes, the beef was truly excellent. If I were reviewing the patty alone I would have rated it much higher, but the bun slid around on a piece of wilted lettuce and a flavorless tomato. I give it a begrudging 4.0. It was a good burger, but if we took price into consideration the score would be lower. The value to flavor ratio is just not there unless you are on an expense account.”

Off season produce

Wilted lettuce and flavorless, out-of-season tomatoes detracted from an otherwise excellent burger

Scott (Dr. Blumenthal, international burger historian) countered, “I’m giving it a 4.5. My two prior experiences were a solid 5.0. Chad, you are giving it a 4.0 (a recommendable burger), and it looks like Michael’s review is also very high. So if anything, it seems that the conclusion should be, ‘Oh sh*t that was good.’ We knew going in that it’s a nationally recognized joint with high prices. We can’t really ding them for that.”

Scott & Chad

Dr. Scott Blumenthal, renowned burger historian and Chad Ward, former international burgiatry supervillian

The renowned Dr. Blumenthal is correct. While by Generally Accepted Accounting Practices, the Umstead cheeseburger should come with a quart of high-octane champagne and a foot massage from a bevy of showgirls, we deliberately chose a special occasion venue for our special occasion and will not factor price into consideration of our rating. While we would have loved to give the Umstead a 5.0 on our Five-0, we give it a 4.125.

Overall ranking 17 out of 50.

Review #49 – Al’s Burger Shack (Chapel Hill, NC)

The four most renowned palates in burgiatry are gathered at the table.

They are at Al’s Burger Shack, a newly opened counter service and takeout restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The interior is tiny, with seating for fewer than 10 patrons. There are picnic tables outside with propane heaters to hold back the cool night air. The burgiatrists opt for outdoor seating. It is chilly but conducive to discussions on the arcana of burger reviewing, far from the prying ears of the public—and without the risk of revealing themselves to their unwitting host.

Super. Thanks for asking.

Super. Thanks for asking.

The owner, Al, is warm and knowledgeable. The restaurant is busy, but he remembers each name and order. He prides himself on local, pasture-raised beef, local craft beers, cheeses from area creameries, and locally made (or homemade) condiments.

The Straight Beef is here to put his hamburgers to the test.

The four burgiatrists are relaxed. The celebrated experts share surprisingly—sometimes shockingly—ribald humor between erudite observations. Dr. Michael Marino is the master of condiments. Dr. Scott Blumenthal is the esteemed burger historian. Reverend Donald Corey is the fiery orator and founder of spiritual burgiatry. Chad Ward is the former international outlaw burgiatrist who joined legitimate academia. They are gods in the burgiatric world. Bad burger joints worldwide speak of them in hushed tones as The Four Horsemen of the Burgocalypse. They are The Straight Beef. It was this reporter’s privilege to join them at one of their outings to observe their methods.

The laughter dies as their names are called and their hamburgers arrive. Good humor shifts to steely-eyed analysis. As though an unseen conductor has tapped his baton on the podium, the four bow over their burgers and begin prodding, sniffing, deconstructing, and, finally, tasting.

Mr. Ward and Dr. Marino lock eyes in a moment of surprise, chewing slowly. Dr. Blumenthal, enjoying his crinkle-cut fries with sea salt and rosemary before committing to his main course, notes his colleagues’ reaction and makes a more careful observation of his patty. Reverend Corey’s eyes are hooded, giving nothing away. One senses that he is skeptical, cynical, not ready to bestow honor before giving it deep thought.

“This is a perfectly cooked hamburger,” says Mr. Ward. Dr. Marino nods. “The first bite is exceptional,” he says.

The burgiatrists examine the interior of the patty. “Textbook,” says Dr. Marino. “I would use this to show my students what a flawless medium to medium rare burger looked like.”

Dr. Blumenthal takes his first bite and sits bolt upright, all outward movement stilled, his exterior awareness shutting down so that he can properly focus on his burger. “Wow,” he whispers. “Just wow.” He takes another bite, and then another. “This is a very good hamburger. An excellent hamburger.”

Reverend Corey does not bend. “It’s good. It’s very good. It may even be great. But there are…flaws.”

This is where the years of experience, the hours of trial and error, the thousands of experiments come into play as the members of The Straight Beef note their initial impressions and consult their internal grading scale. A good hamburger is easy to score. A great hamburger is trickier, but nothing to world-class burgiatrists such as these. Only when one encounters a truly exceptional hamburger do the fine gradations—and their associated agonies—come into play.

At the outer edges of the bell curve the atmosphere becomes rarified, the data points farther apart. It is but a modest jump from a 3.0 on their five-point scale to a 3.5. The leap to a 4.0 is longer but manageable. The distance between a 4.0 and a 4.5 is longer still, and the quarter point between 4.5 and 4.75 is as vast as a burgiatric Sahara. The gulf between a 4.75 to a 5.0 is nearly incalculable.

It is there that the minutiae reign.

Is the bun properly toasted? Is the patty cooked evenly from edge to edge, or is there a grey ring surrounding a pink center? Are the condiments properly applied, or are they too sloppy, perhaps contributing to a ramshackle architecture that causes the bun to slide? Is the bacon crisp? Was it cooked to order? Does the cheese contribute to the flavor, blending harmoniously as it should, or does it stand uncomfortably apart, undermined by its separateness?

“The shredded lettuce is a nice touch,” Dr. Blumenthal says. “You see that far too little. It makes a difference. I’m impressed.”

“The bacon is crisp and flavorful,” Reverend Corey adds, “but I’m not sure I taste ‘grass-fed’ beef. This is an excellent hamburger, but it isn’t significantly different from corn-fed beef in my mind.”

A discussion ensues. It is a fundamental question, and the discourse is heated. Does one judge a hamburger against a Platonic ideal, the perfect hamburger? Or does one judge the hamburger based on the restaurant’s intent? Does “grass fed” play into the equation, or should the hamburger be judged as a hamburger, regardless of modifiers?

“It’s also a little heavy,” Reverend Corey continues, inviting a chorus of disagreement, most notably from Dr. Marino, whose indignation outshines the others’.

“You ordered the 9-ounce burger. You had the option of the 6-ounce burger. You can’t blame that on the hamburger. If you feel that the burger is heavy, you have only yourself to blame. You cannot fault the burger for that.”

The burger experts continue to eat, evaluating every nuance, until Dr. Marino calls for consensus. “Gentlemen, it is time. Your verdict?”

“Five,” says Dr. Blumenthal. “Yes, the bun got a little squishy at the end. I don’t care. This was an amazing hamburger.”

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“Four point seven five,” says Ward. “The beef was rich and perfectly cooked, the accoutrements were exceptional. Even the ‘Al’s Sauce’ was head and shoulders above any house specialty sauce we’ve tried.”

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“Four point five,” says Reverend Corey. “It was an excellent hamburger, one of the best around, and the bacon was excellent, but I had those minor issues, which I voiced.”

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“Four point seven five,” says Dr. Marino. “The level of care, the attention to detail, the quality of ingredients—nearly perfect.”

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The Straight Beef discussed and bickered a bit longer, but the outcome was clear from the first or second bite. Al’s Burger Shack, a restaurant only open for a short period of time, had vaulted into the group’s top five hamburgers of all time.

TSB average score is 4.75, which is good for #4 out of 49.

Al's Burger Shack on Urbanspoon

Review #48 – Village Draft House (Raleigh): The Straight Beef and NC Beer Guys Join Forces

Podcast Super Combo

Man, podcast #9—featuring our buds Glenn and Dave, the NC Beer Guys—is a good one, frothing with craft beer wisdom aplenty. Download it from iTunes or directly from our Libsyn feed.

As a special holiday bonus, here’s some stuff that doesn’t appear the podcast (including our verdict on the Village Draft House). It’s just like the podcast, except the content is completely different, and it’s less about the listening and more about the…you know…looking.

The Beers

Glenn and Dave introduced us to Deep River Brewing’s 40-42 Stout, a rich, creamy stout with hints of chocolate and a bit of residual sweetness. A huge hit with everyone at the table.

For Chad’s Maxmillian burger (with bleu cheese and bacon), Glenn and Dave recommended an IPA to cut the richness. The Maxmillian also paired very nicely with Highland Gaelic Ale.

Devil’s Tramping Ground Tripel from Aviator Brewing in Fuquay-Varina drew mixed reviews. Glenn gave it high marks, while Chad—not a fan of the bubblegum and clove flavors found in some Belgian beers—was less enthusiastic.

The Burgers

Feeling nostalgic for 80s techno-rap, Michael, Scott, and Dave opted for the Der Kommissar Burger, which featured dark ale mustard and sauerkraut on grilled rye. Scott reported that his was well balanced, while the other two felt overwhelmed by sauerkraut. All three agreed that the massive rye slices made the burgers too bready. All in all, a good burger that would be better with more consistent construction and a better burger-to-bread ratio. Scott gave his a 4.0 on the five-point scale, while Michael and Dave both ended up in 3.5-town.

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Glenn opted for the Chicago Burger, a classic pub-style cheeseburger with bourbon-cured bacon. He gave it 3.75.

Chad’s Maxmillian burger delivered salty hot goodness in the form of bleu cheese, Frank’s Red Hot sauce, and bourbon-cured bacon. Glenn was skeptical of the burger’s pretzel roll, but Chad appreciated the flavor and structure it brought to the burger. Chad scored the Maxmillian at 3.75.

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We were very pleasantly surprised when the manager of Village Draft House, upon learning of the presence of the state-renowned NC Beer Guys, comped our meals. Good beer and no bill? Now that’s a pairing.*

ChicagoBurger-homepage

Chicago Burger — photo courtesy of Village Draft House

 

The Verdict

On the beers: An excellent array of craft beers, with NC breweries making up a good portion of the tap list.

On the burgers: Solid renditions of pub-style burgers, both classic and inventive. With a TSB score of 3.75, the Village Draft House ranks 23 out of our 48 official reviews.

And by the way…

Podcast listeners know that Hot Pistol—the NC Beer Guys’ brew that won Best in Show at the Top of the Hops pro-am competition—was headed to Denver for an exclusive debut at the Denver Rare Beer Tasting. So how’d it go? Sounds like the chocolate raspberry habanero stout was extremely well received. And while there is nothing definite yet, the brewers at NoDa have hinted that it may return to the lineup as a seasonal offering next year.

 

*Faithful readers know that we have never asked for — nor will we ever ask for — anything for free. It was a very kind gesture on the part of the manager. We will always be absolutely transparent when something like this occurs.

Review #46 – Merritt’s Store and Grill

We find our humble burgiatrists wandering around Merritt’s Store & Grill, each of them eager to successfully execute the Sisyphean processes of ordering, receiving, and paying for a hamburger.

ACT I: ORDERING

Michael: Well, hello there, stranger! Why don’t you sit a spell? What’s that? Can’t find a seat? Heck, just wait in line, order your food, and worry about the sittin’ later. Which line, you ask? Well, the orderin’ line, of course. Just make sure you don’t get in the pick-up-yer-food line. Dag-nabbit, son, it don’t matter when you pay. You look like a smart city slicker. You’ll figure it out.

Chad: Uh oh—looks like Michael has fallen into his front porch curmudgeon persona again. Happens every time we get near one of these country store-type burger joints. I swear, if there’s a rocking chair nearby, Marino turns into a bad community theater version of Our Town. We can’t even drive by a Cracker Barrel without him getting out and spewing folksy wisdom to frightened children. Good thing Don keeps the tranquilizer gun handy. He’s in one of those lines here…somewhere…I think.

Don: Oh boy—I’m confused. This carpetbagger definitely does not understand the three-line system. An old-timer was gracious enough to point this greenhorn to the line to the left, but only solved one of the problems. When I got to the front of the second line—what I think was the second line—I was told that my burger would be at least 15 minutes more. So I went to the third line to pay and kill some time, but then I—hey, my B.L.T. burger is ready! All the way back in the second line. I think. Dangit.

Scott: This place can use a sign—you know, with some instructions. While I’m wandering around, I’d might as well jot down a few sentences they might find useful…

  1. Here’s the thing: Start in the line on the left. Trust us on this one. Keep in mind that lots of people will be trying to figure out where’s they’re supposed to be. So be friendly!
  2. Then, go back to where you came in and pay at the register. Prepare to (1) repeat your order and (2) see a different variety of chips from the one near the first line. So…um…maybe you should read this step first.
  3. Write this step down—it’s tricky: Then, go back to the area where the first line was, but this time, stand in the line on the right. (But honestly, where you are in line won’t really matter; you’ll be served in the order in which your meal is ready. Just go with us on this one, ‘kay?)
  4. When your order is ready, we’ll call out your order number. (Important note: Your number is the last two digits on the receipt thing we gave you. Sorry—probably should have put that earlier in this sign.)
Excuse me, waiter? There's a fly on my burger.

Excuse me, waiter? There’s a fly on my burger.

ACT II: REVIEWING 

Don: The burger was good. Not great, but good. Slightly overcooked, not really worth standing in three lines for. The tomato was the best part—big, juicy, and ripe. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.0.

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Michael: Those whipper-snappers. I remember when you could order your food and it would be cooked right then and there! Nowadays, bacon and patties are cooked ahead of time and kept in some fancy-shmancy warmer plate for assemblin’ time. I will give ‘em the tomatoes, though. The size of your fist and as red as a sunrise before a rainstorm. Hoooo-ey! All told, this here burger’s a 3.5.

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Chad: You know what? I think I’ll join Michael in one of those rocking chairs. I’m feeling a bit cranky and curmudgeonly myself. Merritt’s makes a good B.L.T., I’ll give them that, but reports of their burgers are greatly exaggerated. Leaving aside an ordering and pickup system designed by the makers of Mouse Trap, the burger—even with Merritt’s vaunted bacon and tomato—was disappointing. It was overcooked and a little bland. The patties are prepared on a tiny, non-stick Presto-Daddy type electric griddle, so there isn’t even any crust or char to give the beef a boost. Not bad, but it definitely didn’t live up to the hype. I have to go with a 3.0.

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Scott: Send help. Stop. Lost in Merritt’s. Stop. Ate burger, then got trapped in line. Was decent, not stupendous. Stop. Good tomato, though. Giving it a 3.25. Stop.

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Average rating: 3.31

Overall position: 32 out of 46

Merritt's Store & Grill on Urbanspoon

Review #44 – Brewster’s Pub (Cary, NC)

What two tastes make the greatest taste combo? No, it’s not peanut butter and chocolate—though that’s close. It’s burgers and beer, of course. That’s why The Straight Beef teamed up with our hoppy counterparts the NC Beer Guys for an outing, to see what burgio-beeric magic we might conjure up.

We wound up at Brewster’s Pub in Cary—a new sports bar at the corner of Lake Pine Drive and 64—and while the fare was just fair, the joint buzzed with burger and beer wisdom aplenty. Keep your ears out for a future Straight Beef podcast for more on that. For now, we’ll give our review of the Brewster’s burgers, then hand the mic to the beer experts…

The Straight Beef

Michael, of course, went with the nuttiest burger on the menu: the “Brewster Bomb,” with bacon, grilled onions, mushrooms, and “drizzled with Monterey jack queso.” Though the burger wasn’t spectacular, Michael could tell that the kitchen knew a little something about burger magic. The patty had a nice char on the outside, without the too-often-predictable overcooked middle, and while the unorthodox use of what’s essentially a cheese sauce might have worked against it, the combination of toppings came together nicely. Michael’s review? Solid overall. A 3.5 out of 5.0.

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Scott went with the straightforward and aptly named “Hamburger,” with traditional veggies and condiments (if you subscribe to the school of thought that considers mayo traditional). Liberally throwing around words like backyard and serviceable and respectable, Scott landed close to Michael’s view: Brewster’s serves up a decent open-grill burger that isn’t quite stand-out, but offers hints of burger magic to come. Scott review? A 3.25 out of 5.0.

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The beer selection, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. For a discussion of that, we’ll turn things over to the beer experts.

NC Beer Guys

Beer expectations run pretty high when we enter a place that has named itself both “brewsters” and “pub.” The beer-pairing selections we had for our burgers at Brewster’s Pub left those expectations dashed. It’s especially disappointing for guys that work promoting North Carolina craft beer to see so few NC-produced options on the menu! With all the local breweries located within a few miles of the pub that would love to have their tasty craft beer on tap?

Anyway, they did have four good NC-produced beers in the Carolina Blonde, Caroline Strawberry Blonde, the Cottonwood Endo IPA from Foothills, and the Sweet Josie out of Lonerider. Good, if limited, options, but how do they do paired with burgers.

Dave chose the “Brewster Bomb,” but with all those toppings, what beer do you pair it with that won’t be overwhelmed by the burger? Dave’s first choice was Sweet Josie. You got the beef, bacon, onions, and mushrooms to contend with, and a brown ale is a wonderful complement. You have roasted malt flavors of caramel and chocolate, which match up great with all those toppings. A burger like this would kick a wheat or fruit beer to the side. Even with Glenn selecting a burger with cheddar cheese, Sweet Josie handled it with ease. These are big burgers, so it took two beers to finish them off. Do you want the same, or is there something else on the menu that can handle the challenge?

Cottonwood Endo IPA to the rescue! India pale ales are really good at putting a bite on flavor—and also cleaning up on the end. This particular IPA has a lot of citrus flavor and a nice hop bitterness. It easily handled and paired well with all the flavors it was up against.

What NC craft beer do you like to pair with your summer burgers?

Review #41 – Geer Street Garden (Durham, NC)

Geer Street Garden (Durham)

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…

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The What-Have-You
©Paul Friedrich

Chad’s Review

The What-Have-You

Is a mystery ingredient

Any topping from the menu

Exotic or expedient

 

To keep my burger

From going commando

I asked the server

For bacon and pimento

 

Good bun, excellent patty

Pimento cheese a little bland

But the bacon made me happy

Truly, it was grand

 

Score?

I give it a four

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Don’s Review

We had a quest,

A burger to find,

To fill our stomachs

And make happy our minds

 

Geer Street Garden our target,

And studying the menu

Found a short burger listing,

Could this be a snafu?

 

There in the print options

To top off the ground moo

Were listed not many

One option: “What-Have-You”

 

Oh! The confusion it caused

To be given such choices

As many as you could think

As many as there are voices

 

The What-Have-You I imaged

Was simple to please

Bacon, fried egg,

Grilled onions, and cheese

 

I took the first bite

And was greeted by pleasure

The egg yolk had broken

With simple biting pressure

 

The burger was good,

With a slight over-cook

But that did not keep it

From 4.25 in my book

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Michael’s Review

With the What-Have-You in plain view

And so much to choose from

My mind was racing

With quite a conundrum

 

Do I go classic

Or try something daring?

I had to choose soon

The server was staring

 

I scanned the menu,

And something caught my eye

I thought, “Do I dare

Or will they think me high?”

 

With conviction in my mind

And resolve in my voice,

“Mashed potatoes and bacon

That will be my choice”

 

Tempted by the What-Have-You

I didn’t know what was in store

It turned out quite tasty

I give it a four

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Scott’s Review

Time for a burger!

Today is your day

You’re off to Geer Street Garden

You’re off and away!

Your stomach is growlin’

You’re ready to feed

One burg on the menu?

Just follow its lead!

 

And now to choose condiments

There sure are a lot

Gruyere, “srirachanaise,”

And peppers so hot

 

But what’s this you see?

A topping that’s new?

It could be just anything!

Its name? The “What-Have-You”

 

You say you’ll go simple

Garlic aioli and bleu

The combo so right

It makes you say “ooh”

 

“The score will be high!”

Says this burger reporter

For Geer Street’s What-Have-You

It’s a four and a quarter!

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Geer Street Garden on Urbanspoon

Review #39 – Bad Daddy Burger Bar (Raleigh, NC)

Review compiled from email exchange following burgers at BDBB’s:

Scott: What did you guys think of Bad Daddy’s last night? The beef-based Cantina Burger was decent. I’ll go as far as “acceptable.”

cantina

The pinnacle of average.

Michael: I think if they were striving for mediocrity with the Frenchie Burger, they nailed it.

Chad: The Classic Southern burger was…okay. Too much Classic Southern and not enough burger. But not offensive.

Don: ESTEEMED GENTLEMEN, I TAKE UMBRAGE WITH YOUR REVIEW AND MUST VOICE MY DISAGREEMENT—NO, MY DISSENSION—WITH YOUR SENTIMENTS.

Scott: My score is somewhere in Three-town. Maybe a 3.25. The tater tots were good. What’s up with Don?

Michael: I’m with you, Scott. I think a perfectly average burger deserves a 3.25. Not sure about Don. Too much Bad Daddy’s Sauce?

Chad: It’s always a tough call whether to go with the mathematically correct 2.5 as the midpoint between 1 and 5 or the bell curve 3 for a burger that is average. I’m hovering on 3. The tots were pretty darn good.

This picture is not out of focus. The burger was so bad it was blurry.

This picture is not out of focus. The burger was so bad it was blurry.

Don: I RESPECTFULLY DIFFER. WHEN AN ESTABLISHMENT’S SIGNATURE BURGER—IN THIS INSTANCE, THE “BAD ASS”—IS BELOW STANDARD, ALL OTHERS MUST BE VIEWED THROUGH THAT LENS. WHEN ONE ENDEAVORS TO MAKE A “BACON AND BEEF” PATTY, IT IS EXPECTED THAT ONE WOULD AT LEAST FIRST PREPARE SAID BACON SEPARATELY AND COOK IT TO AT LEAST HALFWAY DONE. INSTEAD, THE PURVEYOR SEEMS TO HAVE MIXEDED THE UNCOOKED BACON AND BEEF TOGETHER. THE RESULT WAS A FLACCID, INEDIBLE BURGER.

Scott: Did I mention that the tots were good?

Michael: The pickle chips were tasty.

Chad: What was that thing on Don’s plate, by the way? I’m not sure if he was supposed to eat it or perform an exorcism.

Don: IN SUMMATION, LET ME STATE THIS: THE “BAD ASS” BURGER COULD BE BEST DESCRIBED BY THOSE TWO VERY WORDS—BUT SEPARATELY. LET THE RECORD SHOW THAT I SUBMIT A 1 OUT OF 5.

Scott’s rating: 3.25/5

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Michael’s rating: 3.25/5

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Chad’s rating: 3/5

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Don’s rating: 1/5

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Bad Daddy's Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

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