Let’s get one thing out the way; I could care less if Brookline has a local hangout/pub for people to go to. (how’s that for negativity, I’m on a roll lately) All I’ve been hearing for months is how timely it is that The Regal Beagle opened, as the residents of Brookline needed this type of place, a neighborhood joint to grab a decent meal. Brookline is a lot of things, but littered with reasonably priced, comfort food establishments it is not. So I get it, I don’t live in Brookline, but yeah, I get it. The Regal Beagle does it’s best impression of said local hangout, it’s a noble attempt, but when there’s no other competition for such a place, is it really that noteworthy? Aren’t we just reaching for straws just a bit? I mean it’s good, the food is acceptable, it’s a quaint interior, but like my entire experience there, it’s just not memorable. continue reading »
Archive for May, 2010
Integrity is important, a great Boston food writer told me. In what’s become the ultimate catch-22, I’ve started getting a little bit more attention lately, gaining a few more readers, and hence, the occasional special treatment. I complained months ago about wanting the attention, desiring the hook-ups and requesting the spotlight, all for the purpose of a little burger blog. And now that I get it sometimes? I think I liked it before. But since I do have at least some integrity, and I am no whore like the Phantom Gourmet, I made a promise to myself that I wont review a restaurant if I don’t have to pay for it. I’m obligated to tip extremely well to ease the guilt, but it just never feels right to give a formal review when I may otherwise not be treated the same as a non-blogger. I swear I don’t feel like a critic most of the time, it’s not like I’m getting paid by a newspaper or anyone to do what I do (hint hint), it’s a hobby, an obsession for me, nothing more at the moment. Of course, as my brother put it, if I keep getting hooked up and not writing about it, I’m going to be out of business pretty fast. So I guess I’ll contradict myself, because I do like the attention, the extra burger, the super-fast service, it’s a nice life, but I haven’t earned that, not yet.
I’ve said it time and time again, I’m not here to make friends. (wait, have I said that before?) I eat a burger, write a review and move on to the next one. More often than not, there may be a negative angle in the review, but I promise it’s not for shock value. It’s just the way I am, I wouldn’t say I’m a negative person necessarily, but I’m definitely not Mr. happy-go-lucky either. It’s not like I’m searching or reaching for some off-putting remark to throw in there to hurt someone’s feelings, I’m very in the moment, and if I’m not satisfied with what I’m eating, you can bet I’m going to write about it. I attended the Eat, Drink, and Be Social event in Cambridge on Monday morning, full of chefs, restaurantuers and fellow nerdy food bloggers such as myself. A lot of ground was covered, a lot of topics discussed and it was a very valuable event all around. But again, maybe it’s just the negative side of me speaking, but there were too many similar opinions on these panels. Everyone did a great job, I’m not here to trash anyone, in fact, I’m jealous, I’d love to build that reputation to the point where I can speak on one of these panels some day. (anyone looking for a bitter burger blogger, you know where to find me) But c’mon, were we all here just to kiss the collective asses of all the chefs in Boston, hoping to become friends with them? I have better things to worry about than wondering if a celebrity chef in town wants to be my Facebook friend. Yes, there are some fabulous places to eat in Boston, but I thought the whole point of blogging was to share your voice, what happens when all those voices really just become all of the same?
While I agree that a critique can impact someone’s lives, I disagree that “negativity is boring.” In fact, I’d argue the opposite, shouting praise all day every day is boring, how can you filter that? At least, in this bloggers opinion, the occasional B-plus or A-minus burger in a sea of mediocrity is much more special than handing out 5 star ratings all the time. My voice is my voice, I don’t want to be known as the negative guy, but if that’s how people see me then so be it, I’d rather have that reputation than sound just like everyone else.
Sometimes I get things wrong (shocking, I know) but a while back when I reviewed Trina’s Starlite Lounge, I was strong in my beliefs that they used frozen patties. But I was misinformed, they are fresh, custom ground burgers, made in the order of the West-Coast style. And I love a good West-Coast style burger, make no mistake (see Flat Patties) but they are a finicky breed, because they are so thin, they have a greater chance at drying out compared to the larger, East-Coast style. It can be a real hit-or-miss concept, when it works it’s fantastic, but when it’s overcooked, it becomes dry and not optimal. Maybe it was just a bad night when I went, and I stand by my comments regarding flavor, but I do take back the “not being fresh” remarks. A real critic would be probably go to a place several times to avoid this issue, but this being a hobby above all else, I can’t really afford to eat at the same place multiple times, gotta spread that seed all around town, if you know what I mean.
No, I am not talking about the anniversary with the girlfriend, nobody wants to read about that, but the one year anniversary of Boston Burger Blog, big news! Nick and I launched this website last May after eating at Louis Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, while we were let down by the taste of the burgers it got us thinking about where the best burger places in our hometown of Boston of were. We started out at The Biltmore, and I’m glad to say my opinion hasn’t changed since that first experience. We’ve never had a legitimate scoring system, and believe me reviewing the first few restaurants was no easy task, with nothing to compare to, all the scores became (and still somewhat are) completely arbitrary. But what’s in a number anyway? Most of the burgers we’ve had fall into the B- range, decent, but rarely one I want to come back to. I’ve been accused of being picky numerous times, and while I wont address that in full, I strongly believe I am not picky, I eat and enjoy just about everything, but it has to taste good and it has to be executed properly, usually those two things go hand in hand, and rarely is it prevalent on the Boston burger scene. I guess my point is that if you were to eat and focus on one thing continuously, be it a burger, grilled cheese, fried chicken or an apple pie, you’re going to notice the difference from one meal to the next. Subtle at first, but the more you eat, read, and think about it, the more you’re going to develop those opinions, so be it if they come across as “picky.”
So where are we now? There’s a few burgers I love, (you know the names by now) but it seems that you have to be a James Beard nominee to be able to produce a top-notch burger in Beantown. That shouldn’t be, the burger-only places (Bartley’s, Four Burgers, Boston Burger Company) weren’t what they were cracked up to be, almost all the pubs have been mediocre at best, and fast-food is, well, fast-food. But I’m determined, we can’t stop now, nor would we want to, even if we find that perfect burger (doubtful) we’re still going to taste them all, so we hope you continue to follow our journey.