Sel de la Terre (CLOSED)

August 2nd, 2010 by Richard Chudy

I always wonder how a burger makes a given menu. Is it just the most universal food item and thus appeals to the masses? The trend for “upscale” burgers isn’t new, I guess I’m still trying to understand the reasoning behind it all, but one way or another it seems to be here to stay. We dined at Sel de la Terre (we being the coolest burger posse ever) which is as nice a restaurant as a group of our stature can feel comfortable in, it’s just burgers, who needs fancy anyway? Well, the $14 Sel de la Terre burger is kind of fancy, aioli and pancetta join the burger party, but we’ve seen those ingredients before. It’s the right balance I’d say, of appealing to the masses but making it special enough that it feels right. I wasn’t blown away, but categorically speaking it fit the bill. Some technical flaws do demote this burger, however, and this is the kind of restaurant that’s all about technique too, it’s a shame they missed that mark of all the mark’s to miss. I’m talking basic stuff, toasting the burger buns the same for all the diners and cooking the meat to temperature. Burger 101, really, one diner had a very rare burger, one was a spot-on medium-rare, and mine might have been the oddest of the bunch. Borderline raw on the exterior, as if they slapped on raw meat at the end of cooking, and very much medium the rest of the way. The rare meat, of course, was the better aspect, flavorful and juicy, only to give way to dry, blander meat as the sandwich drew to a close. The pancetta, while delicious, was not crispy, and the aioli seemed to be lacking. I liked the bun, a good fit and flavorful, but a little too dense and heavy for my preference. The fries are good enough, thin and crispy with the right amount of rosemary to complement, as most places make the mistake of adding too much herbage, these stand out because you can still taste the potato. Overall the addition of frisee seems  snobby and unnecessary, not able to decipher if it’s just garnish or to be added to the burger, either way it looks dumb on my plate, only there to be there in my opinion. Sel de la Terre does have a good burger, but far from perfect, good beef but in need of more fat, and this isn’t really what I picture when I dream up the ultimate burger experience. Good for the masses who want to eat the humble hamburger in a fancy French restaurant, and enjoy a more special occasion burger, but in my mind, it’s really just a less talented, younger brother of Craigie on Main or Radius. Talented yes, but just not there yet.

Overall Score: 85

7 Responses

  1. Carly Jo says:

    You need a good photographer to accompany you on these trips . . .

  2. BBQGuy says:

    The pic is giving me motion sickness.

    • my camera officially stinks for taking pictures when it’s dark. I can use the flash, but then I become “that guy” at a restaurant, which I want to avoid. Blurry or bust!

  3. cscott says:

    IMO the pics are just as important as the review. Having a decently shot pic of a juicy burger laden with cheese makes me want to read further to find out if it was actually any good or not. On the other hand if the pic looks like the morning after memory of a burger eaten during a night of heavy drinking it immediately gives me the impression that the burger wasn’t any good….so I don’t read any further. (Except to skip to the comments to see if my feelings about the picture’s quality are echoed)

    I understand not wanting to be “that guy” in the restaurant. Hell, I even get that feeling when I’m asked to be in a public group shot, never-mind taking a solo picture of my burger basket. However, for the sake of the blog….find a way to make it work. I think this place will flourish.

    • I think it’s crazy to say that, this isn’t a food porn site, I agree I wish the picture was better, but I’m more interested in the content above all else. In a perfect world, I would have fantastic photos too, but that’s not always the case. I’m not in the business of promoting these restaurants (if you read regularly you know I nitpick even the one’s I enjoy) so I’m not overly concerned with the look of the burger. No picture and then people will complain about the lack of photos, until I solve the issue or find a real photographer to do it, it’s all I can do.

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