My second article featured in the Dig. (online exclusive) Working on a new article this week on fries. Tell me, what is your favorite spot for fries in Boston?
I don’t know why the obsession with burgers started; I can’t pinpoint it to one memorable experience, one specific juicy burger, or one perfect burger hot off the grill in the summer. What I do know is that, like many Americans, it was my go-to dish every time I went out to eat as a kid. It was acceptable as a kid, but I’m not convinced it’s socially normal to eat burgers as frequently as I do now. I was always that dumb kid who ordered a burger every chance I got, which is fine when you’re dining at the Ground Round with your parents as an eleven year old. It’s less fine when you’re eating a burger at a restaurant when there’s probably a much more sophisticated option. I still feel like I’m ordering off of the kids’ menu more often than not, and some places are more embarrassing than others. It’s not my fault there’s a burger on practically every menu in Boston, and I have to have to them all. Neptune Oyster is 99% seafood, and 1% burger. I don’t think you have to guess what I ordered there.
The journey, at least in my “adult” days, began on a road trip to Louis’ Lunch in New Haven Connecticut, the supposed inventor of the modern hamburger sandwich. While the burger itself was average, the history and the experience were memorable. This inspired me to launch a website devoted to reviewing all the burgers in Boston, good or bad, over or under cooked, and to do it as candidly as possible. I think I bit off more than I could chew (pun intended) because as noted, burgers are everywhere and there are a dizzying number of opinions as to what makes a burger good. Food is such a personal thing, especially the burger which represents so many food memories to so many people. But why is the burger so beloved by the masses? For me, it’s not about childhood nostalgia or the ghosts of burgers past; it’s about the anticipation of the next great burger. The best burgers I’ve had in this city stay with me always because they never fail to disappoint. A bad burger leaves my memory before I even finish the last bite, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t love the process.
Let’s talk about the process, the nitpicking and dissecting of the burgers I’ve become known for. Not all burgers are created equally, and there is so much to consider. I never tire of burgers because they are all so different. I’ve never finished eating one and had nothing to say about it. Worst case scenario it’s redundant, a been-there-done-that kind of moment, but that’s the story right there, the tale of the clichéd burger. For my own self-indulgence, encountering a below-average burger can be amusing, and it provides for much more material versus say, the C+ burger that is charred, under-seasoned and pedestrian. But when it’s bad – as dry as my sense of humor and has fried dough as a bun, that’s when the fun begins. The opposite end of the spectrum is true too. While I can’t bitch about the exceptional burgers (The Bristol Lounge, Eastern Standard, Lineage, to name a few) sometimes it’s nice to write something positive and not play the role of “most annoying food blog,” as one reader kindly pointed out to me. Burgers are the quintessential American food for a reason, and although you’ll never catch me claiming to be super-Patriotic, a burger is and will always be my food of choice.
At its best a burger is juicy, mouthwatering, beefy and exactly what I’m craving at any given moment. I’m well on my way to eating my way through this city of burgers. Some topped with aioli, others with bacon and barbecue sauce, all unique in their own way and I’ll gladly play the role of burger critic, the eleven year-old in me couldn’t be happier.