April 13th, 2012 by Richard Chudy

Hillstone has a vintage feel; part of a chain of restaurants that includes Houston’s, it sits right in Faneuil Hall but is far more appealing on the exterior and the interior than many of the tourist-trap establishments surrounding it. $16 will buy you a burger, seemingly of the straight-forward variety, consisting of cheddar, tomato, lettuce and onion. It’s freshly ground Chuck on a homemade bun, and you guessed it, another Big Mac model. It makes sense, it’s a riff on the most popular burger in the world, but not as cleverly done as I’d like it to be. If you think about it, most burgers these days are different versions of the fast food model, after all that’s where it all started. But the missed opportunity here was the chance to elevate that classic burger, start with beef and add the usual condiments, but why not try to spin them in a unique direction instead of just re-hashing what we’ve already consumed a billion (trillion?) times over. But maybe that’s not the name of the game at Hillstone, it speaks to the classic look of the restaurant and they aren’t out to re-create the burger wheel.¬†

The burger does fall victim to the “too much stuff” rule to put it not so eloquently. I want my burgers to be beefy with a great supporting cast. The Hillstone burger basically has a decent supporting cast with a burger thrown in. The meat to condiment to bun ratio is way off, although the meat has adequate flavor and juiciness, it is devoid of individual burger character. But if you look it at as a whole, the sum of its parts versus breaking down each individual component, it is appetizing. The fries are better than average, double fried and salty, they get the job done and neither stand-out nor disappoint. A pleasing aioli comes on the side, a fair addition to the plate, with hints of chili, sesame and soy, it is the one twist in an otherwise barely-above-ordinary burger. For $16 the Hillstone burger doesn’t let down but fails to blow me away either. I imagine it’s consistent and reliable, and there’s something to be said about that, but ultimately it just falls short on the burger spectrum.

Overall Score: 79


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