It’s all about what you do with the ingredients on hand, the quality and care taken makes all the difference in the burger world. Casablanca isn’t reinventing the burger wheel, they just do the best they can with some very traditional components. What basically reads as a very traditional, almost cliched burger (bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato) is surprisingly delicious. Sometimes you just can’t account for that “it” factor. Even upon arrival, the burger is mostly unassuming; the cheese is kind of melted, the lettuce and tomato sort of look okay, and the bacon appears to be mildly crispy but unspectacular. All of that changes during the first bite, which yields a ridiculous amount of juiciness in a way that I’ve never seen before. Post 390 was similar, but that lasted for about three bites before turning into a dry oasis of beef. I lambasted them for not letting the meat rest a few minutes before serving, and I could almost criticize Casablanca for the same issue. Except of course, this burger is juicy down to the last bite, some lost on the plate, but most contained in the burger. And that’s a good thing in my book. (book pending)
This is a culminating example of a burger being on a menu just for the sake of having a burger on the menu. Inspired by classic Mediterranean Cuisine, this could have been their chance to do something differently. Maybe a lamb burger? Muhammara? Olives? Feta? Something off-the beaten-burger-path might have appreciated, but it’s a classic version and lucky for them, it’s friggin’ divine. Although not perfect, it’s juicy and salty and beefy. Good enough for some, and mostly great enough for me, while still being a shade over the requested medium-rare, the burger remains unaffected. Which is another point I have to stress; I’ve been critical of over-cooked burgers in the past, but isn’t the entire point to have it taste good?
The fries are fair, golden and crispy but needing salt, which I quickly remedy myself. Isn’t it funny how salt almost always fixes everything? A decent tomato and not-so decent piece of lettuce top the burger as does the curious bacon. Curious because it’s not quite crispy, not quite chewy and definitely not bad considering its lack of crunch. It’s an excellent Apple-wood smoked bacon at that, and even though it isn’t cooked up to par, the flavor is impeccable. The cheddar is also fair in the melting department, because it’s so thick it never really has a chance to fully melt onto the burger. But again the flavor is the saving grace, any thinner a piece and it would be melted but would also probably be lost in the burger. The thicker the cheese, the more flavor it imparts, add that to the juicy burger, the smoky bacon and we have a winner. At $13 it feels more like a $9 – $11 burger, but we’re arguing over a couple of dollars so who the hell cares. While there are some technical issues in the way of under-seasoned fries, less than crispy bacon and not quite melted cheese, the flavors and juiciness of the burger make it noteworthy. Even if I have my own desires for it to be fancier than it probably needs to be, the burger at Casablanca is damn good, and should not be overlooked.
Overall Score: 85