James’s Gate

March 11th, 2011 by Richard Chudy

The burger at James’s Gate is everything it needs to be: a stripped down, honest offering that is not dressed to impress. But that doesn’t mean it’s not good; rather, it is what is, no gourmet bullshit, just a burger. Reminiscent of Highland Kitchen, after discarding a mealy and pale looking end piece of a tomato and a much too large and wilted piece of lettuce, you’re stuck with beef, cheese and a bun. Isn’t that the way it should be? It’s a burger, people, evaluate it for what it is, additional toppings need not apply. Of course to achieve burger perfection, you have to bring it. James’s Gate is close to being very good, and in many ways it is, but overall it’s close but not close enough.  Again, the burger is simple, and unapologetically so, but the beef could be beefier and the seasonings could be more assertive. The meat, however, is cooked a spot-on medium rare, juicy throughout, but could be juicier. The bun is soft, chewy and fits the width of the patty perfectly.  It’s a nice balance of thickness and overall structure, but, as is the theme here, it lacks a little personality, and that’s the problem when you’re trying to juggle minimal ingredients. The beef has adequate flavor, although it leaves a little to be desired. It’s packed nicely, basically your mom’s burger vs say, those crappy backyard burgers your dad used to make. Sorry dad, mom wins this round. What is a “mom” burger anyway? For me, it’s a loosely packed burger, without frills, but without a lot of oomph. Better that than say some giant softball of an overcooked burger, but who would serve that in a restaurant

The fries are basic, and basically ordinary, meaning they are hot and kind of crispy, but desperately need salt. Price isn’t a huge factor here, but it’s all relative. The burger is $11, with barely a hint of cheese, but it’s juicy and proportionally works as well as it can. But what is the threshold for too expensive when it’s so simple and hardly remarkable. In my mind, this is an $8 or $9 burger, but those extra couple of dollars matter, it’s all about value, and while it’s a pretty good burger, it’s just a notch below where it could be.

Overall Score: 82

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