The supporting cast of any and all burgers can make or break the entire sandwich; too much or not the right amount of role players can spoil any potentially strong burger. At Park, (formly Redline, run by the same ownership group in Harvard Square) the burger is redefined by the often overlooked Patty Melt, an obvious selection as a base for a burger, but seeminlgy sorely lacking as a whole on the Boston burger scene. More like a grilled cheese on steroids than the traditional soft bun meets meat, the Park burger is exceedingly rich, juicy and almost overkill. Yeah, it’s probably more than enough of the salty fatty stuff than you need in one sitting, but there’s a reason it’s starting to gather local media attention.
LaFrieda meat is the beef of choice, a custom blend cut into a custom square shape, instantly evoking memories of Wendy’s, in shape only. All of my favorite sandwich profiles are here: rye bread, Russian dressing, meat and cheese, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s unlike most burgers not because of the bun, or in this case bread factor, but because of the sauce and toppings that borderline overtake the burger. But not in a bad way, just in a way that makes me long for a better sampling of the LaFrieda meat, the gold standard in burgers, at least in New York. The larger than life burger is slathered in a way too generous helping of house Russian dressing, a ridiculous amount of American cheese and Cholula onions. The onions are lightly browned before taking a bath in Cholula hot sauce, not a bad spin on a rarely inspired ingredient. The burger is griddled and very well seasoned, still remaining pink on the inside and as juicy as the better burgers in town. It all goes together, and it all tastes delicious, but I always want the meat to be the star of the show. Here, it’s on the verge of being an afterthought; it’s almost a shame to use such great beef because you’d be hard pressed to detect its benefit. If you can snag a piece of the beef sans sauce and cheese, it’s a beefier burger than nine out of ten of its burger cousins around town. But it’s laregly overshadowed by the remaining ingredients.
Can a burger be amazing when the condiments and accompaniments play a larger role than the patty itself? In this case it’s hard to conclude; it’s a delcious burger, even more so when you consider the price tag (an astonishingly affordable $9). It’s a juicy/greasy mess of a meal, successful for many reasons, most of which are due to bringing a unique perspective to a redundant food category, but not quite memorable enough to hang with the big boys.
Overall Score: 87