Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Hangover at Bang Bang Burgers- Charlotte, NC

There's a pretty simple formula to building a good burger- start with freshly ground beef, quality cheese, fresh toppings, a decent bun and cook it so it stays moist and juicy. However, building an amazing burger is a bit more of a challenge and it seems like new kid on the block Bang Bang Burgers has this figured out.

Bang Bang Burgers- Charlotte, NC
Bang Bang uses ground beef supplied by famous NYC meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda. LaFrieda is known for supplying beef to some of New York's finest restaurants. They are also known for offering custom ground beef blends to numerous burger joints including the famous Shake Shack burger franchise. For those of you that aren't familiar with the Shake Shack you can read my review here.

It's not easy to be the new game in town. Competition in the Charlotte burger scene is fierce with the likes of Burger21, Bad Daddy's, The Cowfish and BT's Burgerjoint all vying for a share of the higher end burger crowd. Differentiation, providing a good product and a great experience is what leads to a loyal customer base, and the spread of word of mouth, which is something that Bang Bang is delivering on.

Bang Bang has an ample selection of burgers that will suit most pallets on any given day, they even offer a number of vegetarian burger options for those looking for some lighter options or due to dietary choices.

The Hangover at Bang Bang Burgers
I tried the Hangover ($9), a single burger topped with cheddar cheese, potato bacon hash, caramelized onions, an over easy egg and "bangburger" sauce (a hybrid ketchup/thousand island type sauce) all served on a brioche bun.

The burger was cooked to medium and had that funky rich beef taste that you'd expect from well aged beef ground from short rib and chuck. The patty was seared with a slight crust on the outside and moist and semi-crumbly inside. Ample salt and pepper seasoning brought out additional flavor. The over easy egg was runny and blended into the burger with each bite. The bun- a toasted brioche roll, was as soft as a pillow and, with the caramelized onions, added a slightly sweet element. The potato bacon hash added a crunchy element to the burger. Although the bacon wasn't easily discernible, the potato flavor was...kinda like putting fries on a burger, but doing it more elegantly. Everything just worked. The Hangover is a damn good burger.

Judging from their fresh ingredients, the signature Pat Lafrieda burger blend, the unique flavor combinations and a general attention to detail, the other burgers at Bang Bang are equally likely to impress.

At Bang Bang Burgers your prayers for a great burger have been answered.

I'll be going back again.

Aburgeraday rating- 7.5/10

Bang Bang Burgers on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Best Damn Cheeseburger at 4505 Meats- San Francisco, CA

The San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market is a virtual food cornucopia, a foodies dream come true, a place where local Bay Area farmers and vendors peddle their wares- and where some of San Francisco's most famous chef's come to shop. It's not uncommon to spot familiar Food network TV personalities or some of the Bay Area's top sports celebrities. I've spotted famous chef Chris Cosentino at least twice but that could be due to his ownership of Boccalone, a Ferry Building cured meat shop that features "Tasty Salted Pig Parts" 

4505 Meats at the Ferry building farmer's market
The story behind 4505 Meats is an interesting one- the idea was born from Michelin five star chef Ryan Farr and brother Cessalee. Their full story can be found here, but eventually led to the opening of the 4505 butchery location in 2011, however to this day, they don't operate a full time restaurant, but rather an outdoor stand at the farmer's market.

The Farmer's market menu is limited to only a few items- a featured burger, hot dog, sausage on a bun and fries. 4505 does like to include seasonal vegetables as enhancements to popular menu items- in this case it was Heirloom tomato.

I ordered the Best Damn Cheeseburger ($9) and added a sunny side up egg ($2). The burger uses 100% grass fed, hand butchered beef and is served on a homemade buttery sesame scallion bun topped with Gruyere cheese, lettuce, onion, sliced red onion and secret sauce.

Best Damn Cheeseburger at 4505 Meats
The burger arrived in an unassuming cardboard fast food tray with a couple of toothpicks holding it together. To the average passer-by it would just look like your run-of-the-mill burger...but boy would they be wrong.

The meat was tightly packed and cooked to a perfect medium. The patty had a subtly gamey, grass-fed taste to it however this was not off-putting at all- in fact, it was the start of something wonderful. The heirloom tomato was as sweet as candy and with each bite, mixed with the burger's oozing juices, the runny egg yolk, heavenly melted gruyere cheese, and special sauce to deliver what I think is the widest flavor profile I've ever experienced in a burger. This burger was so juicy that it would run down your arms if you let it...it was nothing more than- well just spectacular.

I don't give out too many ratings this high...I mean the burger needs to be really special, memorable, craveable...Oh best damn cheeseburger, how I dream of you at night!

Aburgeraday rating: 9/10

4505 Meats on Urbanspoon

Black Truffle Cheese Burger at The Cowfish, Charlotte, NC

Hungry for a burger? Hungry for some sushi?, Hungry for a sushi inspired burger?- well at the Cowfish you've come to the right place. With Locations in Charlotte, NC and now also in Raleigh, The Cowfish is a trendy high-end burger-sushi bar that serves a fusion of Asian inspired sushi and traditional North American style burgers all under on roof- and doing both very, very well.
The Cowfish Charlotte, NC
(photo courtesy of hostofcharlotte.com)
The Cowfish only uses Meyer Black Angus antibiotic and hormone free, humanely raised cattle for their beef burgers and every burger is cooked to order and served with your choice of a side which includes choices like fried pickles, bacon slaw, onion strings and sweet potato fries just to name a few.

I went for the Black Truffle Cheese Burger ($13.00)- a 8oz beef patty served with lettuce, roasted shallots, truffle-infused sauteed mushrooms served on a brioche bun with roasted garlic aioli .

The Black Truffle Cheese burger at The Cowfish
This burger is the epitome of indulgence- it was juicy, flavorful, but not too rich. Each of the ingredients compliments each other and there isn't any one thing that jumps out at you other than- man this burger is damn good!

The truffle is ever-so subtlly 'truffley'
The mushrooms a bit earthy,
The cheese a touch "tangy"
The shallots a bit sweet
...and the garlic mayo rounds it all out.

I have to say that this Cowfish burger qualifies as one of the top 10 burgers that I've ever tried- an I've tried TONS of burgers.

Highly Recommended.

One tip- The Cowfish is a popular place so make sure you are prepared to wait a while even during off-hours- We were there on a Tuesday at 11:45 AM and there was already a 30 Min wait- luckily there is plenty of seating around the bar, but if bar seating isn't your cup of tea a 30 min wait is well worth it here.

Aburgeraday rating: 8/10

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Bacon Cheesy Burger at Burger 21- Charlotte, NC

Burger 21 is an upscale Florida-based burger franchise that is the brainchild of the owners of Melting Pot restaurant's Inc. Their entry to the burger market is another addition to what seems to be an ever growing, yet highly competitive Charlotte fast-casual burger market. With the first franchise opening in Tampa Florida in 2010, Burger 21 has begun national expansion with recent additions up the Eastern seaboard all the way north to NYC and newly announced locations as far west as Phoenix.

Burger 21
The menu includes a number of things you'd expect from a higher-end burger joint- hand-made burgers, fancy thin-cut fries (like the cheese ale fries with bacon, cheese and scallions) and hand spun milkshakes. There's also a few surprises like their dipping sauce bar that features a number of sauces and ketchup's to dip your fries in or drizzle over your sandwich.

The Condiment Bar at Burger 21

Burger 21's name originates from the 21 burger options available on the menu- 10 beef burgers, and 10 that are not beef +1 monthly special that changes the 21st of each month.

Burger 21 uses only hormone-free certified Angus beef that's never frozen, ground fresh daily and seared on a flat-top grill.
The Bacon Cheesy Burger at Burger 21
Today I went for the Bacon Cheesy Burger ($7.49) topped with pickles, lettuce, red onion, tomato. (mayo, mustard and ketchup are optional). The burger came out cooked to medium and featured a crumbly patty. The burger blend seemed pretty basic and was reminiscent of ground chuck but seasoned just right and juicy. The American cheese was fully melted and the bacon thin, crispy with a slight chew. The brioche bun was slightly sweet but could have been a tad bit fresher, but apart from that, the Bacon Cheesy Burger was a pretty tasty burger that I'd come back for again.

Aburgeraday rating: 7/10

Burger 21 on Urbanspoon

The Culver's Deluxe at Culver's- Fort Mill, SC

Opening it's first location in Wisconsin in 1984, fast food chain Culver's can now be found throughout America's heartland. Culver's new location in Charlotte, NC is conveniently located just off I-77 right on the SC border with quick highway on/off-ramp access. At time of writing this review the location was brand-spanking new with plenty of indoor and limited outdoor seating.

Culver's is known for it's burgers and for it's fresh frozen custard that gets spun into a variety of frozen treats.

Culver's Charlotte, NC
Burgers are made with fresh, never frozen 100% US beef and are flat top cooked with light seasoning and served on a toasted buttered bun given it it's "butter" burger name, also, burgers that come with cheese feature Wisconsin cheese.

I went for the Single Culver's deluxe topped with mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle and American. The burger arrived quickly and had a phenomenal crust- far more crust than I've ever had which added a different taste and texture dimension. The crust didn't dry out the burger at all, in fact it locked in all of the juices. Patties are thin and I'd recommend opting for the double, or even the triple if you're bringing a big appetite, but for a quick lunch bite, the single was perfect. The buttered bun was a nice touch. Add the mayo and the cheese and you get a decadent crunchy crispy, cheesy melty combination.

The Culver's Deluxe burger at Culver's
Overall, Culver's ranks near the top of regional burger chains that I've tried and even thought they don't fall into the gourmet category they still produce a good quality product. Add the fact that they serve custard and other tasty frozen treats and it makes Culver's a great destination for the whole family.

Aburgeraday rating: 6/10

Culver's on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Southern Style Big Block Burger at The Diamond- Charlotte, NC

Featured on George Motz's hit food show 'Burgerland' The Diamond is a classic American diner that opened way back in 1945 and serves up home cooked diner food with regional inspirations.

The Diamond is located near Charlotte's Uptown neighborhood of Plaza Midwood, the location of an active bar and after hours scene.
The Diamond. Charlotte, NC
Burgers, dogs, sandwiches, and classic diner meals like meatloaf are staples on the menu, while fried pickles, pull pork sandwiches and calabash fried fish add regional food flair.

The Diamond only uses 100% Angus beef and their burgers vary in size from 1/3 lb Small block size to the full blown 1 lb Hemi. I went for something in between- the Big block ($6.95) with 2 x 1/3 lb patties ordered "southern style" topped with chili, mustard, onions and slaw. I added pimento cheese a southern cheese favorite- which is a spread consisting of processed cheese, cheddar cheese and mild pimento peppers. 

The burger patties are hand formed and are reminiscent of the shape that mom used to make 'em- shaped like fat little hockey pucks. 

The meat came out cooked to medium-well, juicy and flavorful. The no-bean chili was a welcome addition. It added some additional complexity that was quickly cut by the coleslaw, layered with onion pimento cheese and mustard. All on a soft burger bun. No brioche bun here...the bun was nothing special, but it was fresh, and sometimes that's all that matters.

The Southern Style Big Block Burger
This is what you'd expect from a classic diner that's been open for over 60 years- good and simple regionally inspired home style cooking served without attitude. Highly recommended.

Aburgeraday rating: 7.5/10

Diamond Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 22, 2013

BT's Cheeseburger at BT's Burger Joint. Charlotte, NC

It seems like these days a decent burger is never located too far away and with the likes of Smashburger, In-N-Out, Five guys and now expansion of Shake Shack- should the traditional national chains start worrying about these upstarts taking away their share as they deliver great value, better quality, and come with a cult following? Now I don't think that McDonald's is going to radically alter their strategy- they have such a monumental lead in fast food market share, but they are noticing, adapting and adjusting their menu to stay relevant in the ever changing fast-food space.

Some places don't need to adapt, they just need to deliver a consistent good quality product that's affordable, tastes good, has good service and friendly staff and that's recipe enough for success. Enter BT's Burger Joint- a relative newcomer to the NC burger scene with 2 Charlotte and 1 Asheville locations. The brainchild "of two regular guys who like great burgers and don't like to wait" BT's goes beyond just burgers and fries by offering a selection of salads, hot dogs, chicken and cheese steaks.

The BT's location in Ballantyne is squeaky-clean and offers ample indoor seating as well as a covered patio area to enjoy when the weather is nice.

BT's Burgerjoint Ballantyne location
BT's sized burgers are made with 8oz patties, while regular burgers are 6oz. All burgers are seared on a flat-top, and are made to order. One thing burger aficionados will love to see when visiting BT's is the sign at the cash register that displays how you can have your burger cooked- and this list, my friends, includes the option for rare. Some might not think this is a big deal, but if you are a burger lover you need to appreciate that the quality of beef used at a restaurant that serves a rare burger- its usually pretty good- and at BT's this was no exception.
 
I ordered the BT's Cheeseburger ($6.35)- rare with mayo, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and pickle. The burger arrived cooked rare- as ordered formed into a perfect circle and packed tightly with a little crumble that held together nicely through each bite. The burger had good seasoning of salt and pepper and it was very easy to taste the quality beef which was arm-dripping juicy, meaty and flavorful. The 2 slices of American cheese could have been given a bit more melt and was likely caused by having the burger cooked rare but hardly a showstopper. The egg brioche bun was a star in this show- it was slightly sweet and velvety fresh.

The BT's Cheeseburger
BT's follows the formula for getting repeat customers- the burgers are excellent, the cost affordable and the service is great- a must try in my opinion.

Aburgeraday rating- 8/10
BT's Burger Joint on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bacon Double Cheeseburger at Joey Doggs- Surfside Beach, SC


Lets face it- Myrtle Beach is a tourist trap. As one of the U.S.'s spring break meccas, it draws tens of thousands of young college aged booze hounds in early spring and vacationing American families in search of sun, surf and relaxation the rest of the year. Tourists and spring breaker alike, are tempted by the advertisements of low cost all-you-can eat seafood buffets on billboards, hotel pamphlets and by concierge staff who are most certainly tipped for sending unsuspecting patrons to these establishments. These places will always be in business just based on the mass of people that visit every year- no matter how bad their food is. My advice- don't be tempted by those places as they are almost all overpriced, mostly consist of deep fried items and all of mediocre quality at best. You'd be best to use a crowd sourcing app like Urbanspoon or Yelp to get good honest dining recommendations. Look for restaurants with a large quantity of reviews so you know it's not the owner and their immediate family writing the reviews- that's how we found Joey Doggs.

It's easy to miss Joey Doggs strip-mall location

Joey Doggs prides itself on cooking only fresh- never frozen menu items that include hand formed 90% Angus beef burger patties, all beef hotdogs and both hand cut and hand dipped onion rings. With this in mind Joey Doggs already has an edge over the other mediocre restaurants around it.

Burgers are BBQ grilled and always made to order with your choice of the extensive topping selection including Carolina staples-chili and slaw. You can order burgers a-la-carte with your choice of sides, or as a bowl with both fries and onion rings which we found out later also meant served in a dog bowl!

Food Served in Dog Bowls
Having spent most of the morning in the sun, I was sporting a larger than normal appetite so I went for the double bacon cheeseburger bowl ($7.85) with lettuce tomato, pickle, grilled onions and mayo.


The Bacon Double Cheeseburger at Joey Doggs
The burger came out cooked medium well with two perfectly melted slices of American cheese, nicely thin and crispy bacon, and really fresh toppings on a soft bun. The beef was lightly packed and even though it was cooked medium-well it was still very moist and juicy and had a fantastic beef flavor from the Angus beef they use.

You gotta think that Joey Doggs is where the locals eat. The staff are friendly. The quality is great and best of all, it's not overpriced like almost everything else in Myrtle beach. I recommend you try it out if you are ever nearby.

Aburgeraday rating- 7/10

Joey Doggs Burgers on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Cheddar Style Burger at Cook-Out, Charlotte, NC

Cook-out is a chain of fast food restaurants in the South with more than 100 locations in North and South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. Cook-out features items that you'd typically find at an outdoor cook-out- burgers, dogs, chicken, BBQ and more. Most locations feature a double drive-thru with outdoor seating and many locations feature dine-in seating as well.

Cook-Out
If you are craving a burger you must first choose the size- either their 2oz. small ($1.19), 4 oz. regular ($2.39), 6oz. Large ($2.59) or 8oz. Huge ($2.79), then choose one of 4 distinctly different styles of toppings:
"Cook-out style" ($.65) with homemade chili and slaw, mustard and onions.
"Out West style" ($.65) with BBQ sauce, bacon, mayo, pickles and onions.
"Steak style" ($.65) with A1 sauce, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and mayo.
"Cheddar style" ($.89) with cheddar cheese, bacon, grilled onions and mayo.

The Cheddar Style Burger at Cook-Out
On this day I went for the small cheddar style burger. The beef patty came well done with nice BBQ flavor imparted by the char-grilling. The gooey processed cheddar cheese and sweet sauteed onions slathered and covered the smoky bacon. Although there was a bit too much cheese (I can't believe I would ever say too much cheese)- the burger was pretty decent and reminiscent of the Wendy's cheddar portobello melt, but at a fraction of the price. The entire bill- including the burger and a soda came in at a bargain price of $3.22 all taxes in!

Cook-out offers a decent burger at a great value and a menu that is sure to deliver whatever you might be hungering for. I'll be going back.

Aburgeraday rating: 6/10

Cook Out on Urbanspoon

The Kobe Beef Burger at Burger Bar, San Francisco, CA

The Burger Bar is the brain child of famous chef Hubert Keller- executive chef and owner of San Francisco's critically acclaimed Fleur-de-Lys restaurant. With locations in Las Vegas, NV and San Francisco and planned expansion into Beijing and Mexico City, the Burger Bar appeals to upscale diners looking for an unpretentious casual burger with the flair of a 5-star chef.

The elevator in Macy's whisks you up to the 6th floor Burger Bar
The San Francisco location is across from Union Square in the Macy's flagship store where you take an elevator to the 6th floor to get to the restaurant. Once you get there, you are presented with a spectacular view of San Francisco's Union Square- so make sure to ask for a window seat!

Get there early to get premium seating overlooking San Francisco's Union Square
Menu items include various burgers including the basics all the way to the over-the-top Rossini Burger- A kobe beef burger stuffed with braised short ribs topped with a lobster tail, shaved black truffles, truffle sauce served on an onion bun ($60).

I tried the Kobe beef burger ($16.50)- medium rare, topped with American, caramelized onions and house made aioli all served on a ciabatta roll. The burger was cooked perfectly and came out with juices running. The patty was loosely packed and was held together by the American cheese. The Kobe beef delivered a whollop of beef flavor and could be one of the most flavorful burgers I've had. The beef flavor was strong- almost gamey- something that you don't get from straight chuck and makes the meat get noticed in your burger. It also had good fat content but wasn't too greasy. Caramelized onions delivered added sweetness and the garlic aioli rounded things out.

The Kobe beef burger at the Burger Bar
The Burger Bar won't disappoint when it comes to burgers- they know how to make a great burger and they do it well. The Kobe beef burger is one of those burgers you'll love and always remember 'cause it's just downright good and it tastes different enough to be memorable.

Aburgeraday rating: 8/10

Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cheeseburger at Gott's Roadside- San Francisco, CA

With 3 Bay Area locations in St.Helena, Napa and in the SF Ferry Building, Gott's Roadside has the reputation for making one of the best burgers in the city. Gott's has a wide menu selection ranging from seafood to burgers to hot dogs to salads, beer, wine and shakes and is a popular hangout for pre-Giants game fans.



The burgers are by far the most popular item on the menu and are chargrilled, 100% family farm raised Niman Ranch Beef- ground fresh daily. One of their signature burgers is the green chili cheeseburger ($8.99) with jack cheese, lettuce, grilled onions, salsa verde, charred JalapeƱo mayo on a toasted egg bun. Once chargrilled and assembled, all burgers are given a quick steam in a contraption that softens up the egg bun.
I ordered the Cheeseburger ($7.99) medium-rare, however, the first one came out medium well- their standard doneness- so I sent it back and asked for it medium-rare again. I was sitting at the bar overlooking the kitchen and watched as they prepared my second burger. The burger went on the grill and one minute ran into another, then three, flip and repeat...and it was again being overlooked right before my eyes. The cook didn't even poke the meat to check for doneness, which should have been a given since I just sent the last one back...but instead it arrived at my table- well done again- sans the quick steam.

The cheeseburger arrived topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and special sauce on a toasted egg bun. The special sauce is mayo based, slightly sweet and a tad spicy with dill or sweet pickle relish chunks. The well done burgers weren't as juicy as they should have been, however the flavor was quite beefy even though it was drier than I'd like. The cheese could have used additional melting and in the rush to send out my second burger, it missed the quick steam that my first burger received and the bun lacked the softness that it needed. I took a bite or two and sent it back and asked for my money back...I wasn't about to wait another 10 minutes.

Apart from my 2 returned burgers, what I did eat was acceptable but it definitely would have been a better experience if I got it the way I ordered it. Gott's normally has a good reputation for their burgers and is often rated as one of San Francisco's best...but not on this day.
Aburgeraday rating: 6/10
Gott's Roadside on Urbanspoon

The Ding Dong Style Pterodactyl Burger at Pinky's Westside- Charlotte, NC

Pinky's Westside grill is a roadhouse style burger bar that has built quite the cult following recently. Located near Uptown Charlotte just off the I-77 on the west side and marked by it's VW bug painted in patriotic stars and stripes on the roof, it's nice to occasionally go somewhere to try something out of the ordinary. Pinky's does make traditional fare including sandwiches, hot dogs and your more typically topped burgers, but it's the burger topped with peanut butter and Sriracha that I was after on this visit.

Pinky's has limited parking in their lot but ample overflow parking is available across the street. Both sit down, bar and patio seating are available and Pinky's is open late to satisfy that late night burger craving.

When scanning the menu you may want to try the crisscut potatoes topped with melted pimento cheese or the deep fired pickles as an appetizer or side dish to any of Pinky's burgers.

Pinky's burger menu offers burgers in 3 sizes- The Pterodactyl- a single 5 ounce patty, the mammoth- with two 5 ounce patties, and the Triple G- with you guessed it- three 5 ounce patties. Burgers are available in 4 styles- "Everything" with mayo, onion, lettuce, tomato and pickles, "Westside" with mustard, chili, slaw and onion and "Ding Dong Style" Topped with crunchy peanut butter, honey- cilantro slaw and Sriracha sauce.

I went for the Ding Dong Style Pterodactyl burger with pepper jack cheese ($4.60). The burger came out on a nice soft bun and was cooked to medium. The burger was juicy and the hit of crunchy peanut butter was noticeable, but not overpowering. Some might think that peanut butter on a burger as an odd thing. Well, if you think about other meat and peanut combinations- like thai pork satay, the peanut/meat infusion really isn't that odd and this actually works really well together. The sriracha added some zip and a hint of sweetness and the slaw cut through everything and balanced it all out- and for $4.60 this makes for a real value when it comes to burgers. The Ding Dong style burger didn't disappoint and I'd recommend it to anyone tired of the same old burger.

Aburgeraday rating- 6/10

Pinky's Westside Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cheeseburger at Mo's Grill- San Francisco, CA

This week's burger quest brought me to the popular North Beach area of San Francisco where hilly side streets are dotted with everything from tattoo parlors to fashion stores to restaurants. Mo's on Grant street serves up some killer breakfasts as indicated by 90% of the plates that were being brought to tables around us on this Sunday around lunch time. I think I even saw a breakfast chili burrito the size of small child being served to one of the patrons sitting next to us!

Mo's Grill. San Francisco, CA
Mo's claim to culinary fame is the rotating barbecue grill that rotates slowly as passersbys on the street peek in to see slowly cooking burgers and steaks dripping their lucious juices onto the flaming volcanic rock grill beneath. Seating is limited to about a dozen tables and bar seating that can host about 8 more so you can expect a wait during busy hours, however the service is fast and keeps people moving in and out the door briskly.

Beef grilling over volcanic rock
All burgers are made from 7oz center cut Angus corn-fed ground chuck- generous for most gourmet $7 burger joints- ground daily and hand formed into patties and cooked to order.  I ordered the Cheeseburger ($7.75)- medium-rare with American cheese, mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion- all served on a toasted kaiser roll. Pickles spears are available upon request.

Cheeseburger at Mo's
The burger came out perfectly cooked, however the romaine lettuce was bitter so I removed it. The soft kaiser bun was soft but only after you got passed it's overly toasted exterior. I don't like fighting through the bun to get to the meat and in my opinion the importance of a soft bun that can be easily bitten through is a crucial for a good burger. The American cheese was substantially thick but could have benefited from additional melting. The beef was super juicy and seemed to be seasoned perfectly. The ground chuck was pretty compacted, not overworked, but not entirely crumbly either. The beef taste from the ground chuck was lacking and wasn't very complex- very one dimensional you might say. They've been using chuck for years and people love their burgers- I just prefer something a little more complex. I was surprised that the grilled flavor from the volcanic rock below the grill wasn't as present as I thought it would be and you couldn't really taste the grilling. Now while Mo's cheeseburger may not be in my top 10 list, it's still a pretty decent burger, and anyone with a healthy appetite for a big breakfast should not pass this place up- it's worth it just for that. But since I only rate the burger, and not the ambiance, service or other items of the menu, Mo's fell short of my expectations.

Aburgeraday rating: 6/10

Mo's Gourmet Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Truffle Burger at Umami Burger- San Francisco

Already a staple and well known name on the L.A burger scene, Umami burger is a relatively new player in the Bay Area and opened it's first location in San Francisco in 2011, and a second in Palo Alto March 2013. The name 'Umami' refers to the 5th taste component beyond sweet, salty, sour, bitter and is loosely translated from it's Japanese origins meaning "pleasant savory taste" that can be found in foods.

Umami Burger- San Francisco, CA
The front of the building is unassuming and absent of obnoxious signage. The only thing that tells you that you are in the right place is the overhanging facade with simple orange back-lit outline of a burger. You'll find some limited outdoor patio seating, full dine-in order at your table seating and limited seating at the bar. The decor is open, inviting and modern chic.

If I could use one word to summarize the menu at Umami it would be "fresh" as Umami makes almost everything on the menu from scratch- from the pickles, to the cheese, to the condiments. Condiments include house-made mustard, ketchup, garlic ailioli, and a semi-spicy/sweet diablo sauce. *Tip- try the truffle fries! They are thin cut fries topped with truffle cheese...a side of garlic ailoli or house made ketchup make the perfect dipping addition.



Burgers are a 6oz hormone-free beef patty that is ground fresh daily and come from cows that are first grass fed, then finished with a grain diet. Umami suggests ordering their burgers medium-rare to maximize flavor while retaining moisture, but you can order it any way you like.

Their "Umami burger" is their most popular burger, however, the menu includes some daily specials including the "Brunch burger", topped with pork belly, a fried egg, house-made American cheese and diablo sauce (available only on weekends).

The Truffle Burger
I tried the Truffle burger- medium rare, topped with house-made truffle cheese and a truffle glaze ($12). The burger was cooked on a flat-top and came out with an awesome crust locking in incredible juiciness. The freshness and great depth of flavor of the beef was equally impressive. I really appreciated the simplicity of the ingredients. Rather than overwhelming my palate with a bunch of condiments, the burger was simply topped with truffle cheese and a truffle glaze that added richness, complexity and complimented the fantastic "meatiness" of the burger. The overall result was an incredibly juicy and luscious burger that is absolutely a must try and the Truffle burger from Umami burger goes down as one of the best burgers that I've had in a long time and should be on everyone's burger bucket list.

Aburgeraday rating- 8.5/10

Umami Burger on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bad Ass Burger at Bad Daddy's Burger Bar- Charlotte, NC

Formerly Big Daddy's, renamed Bad Daddy's Burger Bar has three Charlotte and one Raleigh, NC location. The roadhouse inspired burger bar is known for award winning over the top burger creations that keeps people lined up out the door.



Bad Daddy's has a wide selection on the appetizers including deep fried pickles with ranch dipping sauce ($7.25) and Irish nachos- french fries topped with Guinness beer cheese sauce, fried egg, scallions & bacon for $7.95.

At Bad Daddy's you can buy specialty burgers off the menu including the "Sam I am burger" topped with cheese, an over easy egg, rosemary ham and pesto mayo ($10.55). There are also specialty and build your own burgers made from buffalo, turkey, black bean and even ahi tuna.

Today I decided to go a bit messy and throw my diet right out the window. I went for the Bad Ass Burger- $13.00 (includes a side of fries, slaw, or homemade potato chips) *tip- try the chips with the pimento cheese dipping sauce- it's pretty wicked good stuff.

The burger includes two 5 ounce patties that contain a mixture of ground beef (a freshly ground custom beef blend made from hanger steak, chuck and brisket) and ground bacon. Yes I said ground bacon! The burger is then topped with English cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and more bacon- this time in the form of buttermilk battered deep fried bacon. It's then topped off with some horseradish mayo.

The Bad Ass Burger

Burgers are made to order- in this case I ordered medium and it came out exactly that way. The beef and bacon patty was juicy, crumbly, and not too packed. You could taste the bacon, but it wasn't too overpowering or too salty. The bun was super fresh- very similar to a potato bun and really held together even with the amount of juice this burger was dripping. The horseradish mayo gave the burger additional complexity and tied it together. But it was the the buttermilk battered deep-fried bacon that put this burger over the top and created a burger masterpiece ranked up there with some of the best burgers I've tasted.

I really hope that the great product that Bad Daddy's produces allows it to expand beyond the Carolinas 'cause it's something that y'all gotta try some time soon.

Aburgeraday rating- 8/10

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