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