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

Bad Daddy's Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cheeseburger at the Palo Alto Creamery- Palo Alto, CA

The Palo Alto Creamery can best be described as an upscale diner that serves a wide selection of standard diner fare (with a few twists I might add) to appeal to everyone from kids with simple pallets to those with discerning tastes. Opened in 1988 and with 2 Palo Alto locations, the previously owned "Peninsula Fountain Grill" sign still hangs out in front of their downtown Palo Alto location which might confuse some who are looking for the "Palo Alto Creamery". Once inside, you step back in time to a 50s diner setting with plenty of booth and table seating as well as standard stools that you would have found in a diner of yesteryear.

Palo Alto Creamery, Palo Alto, CA
The diner has an onsite full service bakery where they bake all of their own bread and many of their deserts. Best of all- they bake all of their sesame seed buns for their burgers.

All Palo Alto Creamery burgers are 1/3 lb fresh, hormone free, natural certified Angus beef. Today I went for the Cheeseburger ($10.95 with fries) and ordered it medium. The cheeseburger came topped with American cheese and grilled onions. Lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles are all on the side. The burger doesn't come with Mustard, Ketchup or Mayo however those options (sans the mayo) are available at the table.
The burger came out bbq grilled to a perfect medium- just as I had ordered. I was surprised at how I didn't really miss the mustard, mayo, ketchup and spread that you'd typically find at other burger joints. This can be risky if the meat isn't cooked perfectly but today it was perfect- great moisture, great beef flavor, nice crumbly grind, perfectly seasoned and topped with melty American cheese. The freshly baked sesame seed bun was a really nice touch. It was soft, yet held together without falling apart. I definitely recommend the burger at the Palo Alto Creamery, and if you're ever there it's a must try.

The Cheeseburger
Aburgeraday rating- 7/10

Palo Alto Creamery Downtown on Urbanspoon