Wahlburgers

April 24th, 2012 by Richard Chudy

 

Photo by Katie Barszcz

I wouldn’t say Wahlburgers is hyped so much as it is interesting and talked about. We all know the story; Chef Paul Wahlberg is the brother of the famous Mark Wahlberg, (you could throw Donny into the mix too) and just like everybody else, they wanted to open up a burger joint. I wouldn’t say they are just trying to cash in on their name, but of course it’s all part of the gimmick and the reason why some might check it out to begin with. I can’t say I blame you, curiosity got the better of me too. I was dubious at first, but after reading this review, my expectations increased ever so slightly. I would love to take this opportunity to shoot down the notion that I only like “expensive” burgers. We’ve talked about that before and I will certainly talk about that again, but expensive means different things to different people. True, some of my favorite burgers (Craigie on Main, $18, Back Bay Social Club, $23) are exceptionally pricey but worth (almost) every penny. But the majority of my favorites land somewhere in the cheap to affordable spectrum (The Avenue, $8, The Gallows, $10, JM Curley, as cheap as $10.50) and while Wahlburgers is respectable, it is not in the same ballpark as the top burgers in the city. Of course, Hingham isn’t exactly “in the city” so you could make the argument that it’s a stand out in the South Shore, but fair or unfair, I’m comparing it to the other burgers I’ve had, most of which have been in the city.

Conservatively, you could probably get away with spending around $10 here for a simple burger and fries combo. But make that Wahlburger a double or triple decker or opt for one of their specialty burgers and the bill will climb. Throw in a Frappe and you’re easily pushing $15 – $17 per person. It’s all a la carte but there are plenty of options. I have no problem with this price point and in no way am I calling it expensive, but for me, it’s all about the value, and in relation to other burgers I adore, Wahlburgers falls short. In the interest of double-talking, it is an enjoyable burger, flawed for the price, but enjoyable. There have been grumblings of famed Pat LaFreida beef and a unique blend here, but if you are at all familiar with LaFrieda and are expecting that quality, you may be disappointed. It’s close to being a great burger, however, as everything but the beef is carefully constructed and quality is in check. A soft and buttery bun fits the burger like a glove, gooey American Cheese is the perfect choice, and toppings (jalapeno and bacon on the BBQ Bacon Burger) are divine. While the avocado and BBQ Sauce get a little lost, quantity and meat-condiments-bun ratio are flawless. But in my world where its got to be all about the beef with a good supporting cast from everything else, the patty itself is over-packed, drier than it should be and mostly bland. There is some residual juiciness but my burger analysis declares that to be from grease, not from a juicy burger.

The fries are great, picking up onion flavor that I would guess comes from the same oil the onion rings are fried in. Whether it’s intentional or not doesn’t matter, I like them. Sweet Potato Tots are just okay; freshly prepared they have the shape of a tot but don’t necessarily taste like much. They are seasoned well on the surface but are mostly tasteless on the inside. A Black and White Frappe ($4.65) is tiny, especially for the price. It’s oddly watery and tastes neither of the promised vanilla or chocolate. The set-up is interesting, you have the option of sitting outside (when it’s warm) or sitting inside with either service from a waitress or simply ordering from a counter and seating yourself. I say go for the latter, the staff is beyond friendly and attentive and you’ll probably get a seat much faster if you go for the more casual cafeteria side of the equation. ¬† Overall, it’s good model with adequate food and it mostly works if the fast-food style is your thing. If you’re like me, however, and want more beef for your burger, you may be let-down. Either way it’s worth at least one trip to see what all the fuss is about.

Overall Score: 79

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