Maybe my standards are too high. Or maybe most burgers, really are, “just burgers.” But the last few, or really the vast majority are kind of boring, run of the mill beef, standard bun, lettuce, tomato, raw onion, repeat. I’m fully aware I’m a self-described burger purist, I love the simplicity of burgers, when they act like the beautiful burger they’re supposed to be. The problem with anything outside of the stripped down version is that no one ever focuses on the beef itself, they just concentrate on loading it up with as many condiments and toppings as imaginable. But the classic, straight-forward burger can be mundane, if not treated properly, much like the burger with all the bells and whistles. Listen, it’s all about the ingredients, whether it be a couple or dozens, but the cheeseburger with just lettuce, tomato, and cheese almost has nowhere to hide, that’s why I always order it so simple. But truth be told most places have no imagination, there’s no excitement, but I am secretly dying for a burger that can balance the classic approach with some new twists and turns. Wishful thinking maybe, but I yearn for the day that happens.
Fast forward to The Abbey, the new spot in Brookline that boasts similar pub fare with a twist, better than the norm, a little pricier, but still something for everyone. Stop if you’d heard that before. The burger on the menu is listed as plain as can be, “Burger, fries $12. And it tastes as simple as that, the beef is fairly flavorful, nicely cooked and seasoned well, as juicy as any good burger should be. The bun is toasted but slightly too large, not the perfect fit but not a complete bust, a little butter spread on would have helped the dryness. Cheese, which is fully melted, adds to the proper cooking techniques consistently demonstrated here, even if the food does come out way too slow for such a small, half-empty (half-full?) restaurant on a lazy Saturday afternoon. The fries, crispy and light, are relatively cold, and in need of more salt. Truffle fries are more successful, but lack the punch I expect when I read the word, “truffle.” I almost anticipate an onslaught of earthy flavor, which barely come both in the form of truffle oil on the fries, and the truffle mayo that comes along with them. I realize it’s November, but either don’t serve a mealy tomato or find some tomato alternative, and the lettuce isn’t exactly garden fresh either. This should be the type of place that attention to detail-wise should be able to do something better or more creative. All in all, if you like eating with hungover hipster Brookline residents and enjoy the warm, fuzzy feel of exposed brick, The Abbey is the place for you. The burger is fine for what it is, some call it boring, some call it classic, but I’m still longing for more.