51 Lincoln

February 26th, 2011 by Richard Chudy

Photo courtesy of Christine Liu

Great burgers are hard to come by in Boston. Sure, you can have a pretty good burger, over-sized, a spear of a dill pickle, cold beer and get in for under $10. Problem solved, right? Well, not so fast, if the goal is to be full and to not really think about how/why/what the meal is all about, then maybe this isn’t the place for you. It’s often pointed out that even when I like a place, I never really like a place. And I get it, the tagline here does reference “the perfect burger” but it’s so tongue and cheek, food is subjective, how could one meal, especially a dumb burger, ever be perfect? The burger at 51 Lincoln in Newton is not perfect, but it is damn good, I promise my complaints will be few and far between. I’m lucky to have a select few devoted to joining me on my burger quests, the SBK of course being one, who always has a special place in my burger heart. This week I was thrilled to be joined by the one and only Christine Liu, who you just can’t say no to. To be dining with someone as passionate and downright obsessive about food as I am makes for one fun evening. The burger at 51 Lincoln is relatively straightforward, about as stripped-down as you can get for $15. The star is the beef and rightfully so, impeccably juicy right from the get-go (don’t you just love that feeling of immediate satisfaction) and flavorful in that succulent but not necessarily over-the-top beefy way. The seasoning is very good, although I could probably use about 9% more salt, but then again I like my salt. The beef is rich, but not too rich, striking the perfect balance between being aggressive and delectably flavored, if that makes any sense at all. The bun, or house-made toast in this instance is of one very few missteps, even then it’s not a deal breaker. Talk about old school, reminding me of Louis Lunch, supposed inventor of the hamburger, either it’s a throwback to the glory days of burgers from yesteryear, or I just made that up. If it’s the former, I appreciate the nod to history, but it just doesn’t quite work. The bread is nice, a good contrast of crunchy and chewy, the problem being the crunch is too crunchy and the chew is too chewy. It’s a bit hard to manipulate the bread, struggling to get through the thick slices while playing a where’s Waldo in trying to find the beef. But hey, at least the bread held up to all those juices, but it is a minor offense.

Truffled Ketchup and garlic aioli come on the side, and while the ketchup is delicious (how could it not be?) and I have no problem slathering my burger and fries with it, the aioli is flat and well under-seasoned. The fries are what they should be, maybe missing some $15 element, or maybe they’re just good, crispy and salty, skin-on and addictive French Fries. I told you my complaints are minimal, the bread is a minor issue, it’s too crusty when it probably should be light and fluffy, but the textural impact is important on the overall sandwich. If you give me a burger that is very well seasoned and incredibly juicy from end to end, how much can you really gripe about it? This may not be the ideal spot for a burger, in the suburbs on a Tuesday night, but maybe that’s the fun, it’s not a classic burger joint, but it’s an old school burger dressed up every so slightly, and I’m a happy burger boy.

Overall Score: 90

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