February 3rd, 2012 by Richard Chudy

For all my talk about “everyone having a burger on their menu,” I still get charged up whenever I find one at an unsuspecting restaurant. Is it the thrill of discovering the next great burger that no one is talking about? I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a factor, and after nestling into the bar at Masa for a quick snack before the next meal, I quickly spotted a burger on the menu and I couldn’t pass it up. Sounding different and exciting, it had all the makings of a substantial burger. Then again, much to my dismay, it turned into one of those “looks good on paper” burgers that are common and disappointing. The Masa Burger is topped with Monterey Jack Cheese and comes with smoked bacon, sliced avocado, pickled onions and Guajillo ketchup. Or so one would think. 

Sounds pretty good, right? Ideally, it sounds like Mexico in burger form and I wouldn’t blame you for falling victim to it either. But it’s bland city right from the get-go, and good luck trying to actually taste anything other than char on this burger. The promised Guajillo Ketchup (which is delicious on one of the Tapas we ordered) is not on the burger, instead we receive a small ramekin of generic Heinz to go alongside our fries. The cheese is scantily applied and thus not of note, although it is melted. The smoked bacon (of course it’s smoked, it’s bacon!!) is rubbery and partly raw, can anyone cook bacon anymore?! The burger itself is cooked a little beyond the requested medium-rare, has a modest juiciness to it but it’s completely over-packed and tough to eat. How you make a burger that is chewy is anyone’s guess, but they pulled it off. There is a lot of char from the grill, so I suppose if you are into a heavy char flavor, not burnt necessarily, then perhaps you might enjoy it. It’s labeled as being in between a Brioche Bun but it’s closer to a Kaiser than anything, and it’s soft crossed with a good toothsome texture, actually a benefit to the burger as a whole. The fries miss the mark, however, tasting as if they were simply baked (or worse, microwaved) they are salt-less and heavily dusted with dried spices. I like the approach of using Southwestern spices on the fries, but to only apply them after the fries are cooked instead of giving them a proper coating before cooking makes them unsuccessful.

There are a lot of misses on the Masa Burger, the promise of something new and different is just that, a promise. Proper seasoning could fix some things, but over-charring the burger, improper technique with the fries and failed opportunities to separate the men from the boys, and it just ends up being another mediocre burger in a long line of forgotten meals. Bonus points for trying something atypical, but a big minus for failure in execution.

Overall Score: 69

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