To grill or not to grill, that is the question. At Back Deck, they rely heavily on the old standby, our good friend the grill. If the vibe is intended to look and feel like the prototypical “back deck” in most suburban houses, they’ve certainly succeeded. Picnic tables and a brightly lit interior set the scene, and the smoke of the grill is evident if not overwhelming. The aptly named “backyard burgers” offer three slightly intriguing choices; the Santa Fe burger (pepper jack, avocado, tomato salsa), the Muffaletta (provolone, Creole olive salad, garlic mayo) and the Mexicali (pepper jack, avocado, chipotle mayo and green chili salsa). Being a sucker for all things New Orleans, I opted for the Muffaletta burger, which rings in at $13.
Arriving on a plastic and very picnic-y inspired plate, it looked like a very typical burger. Fully melted cheese and the usual toppings of raw red onion, a pile of lettuce and a slab of tomato compile the burger plate, most of which I quickly push aside to get to the meat of the matter. The burger is an ideal size, the Goldilocks of burgers if you will, featuring a wonderful meat to bun ratio and just large enough so you need two hands to hold it but it wont weigh you down either. The first few bites are a delight: juicy, pleasantly beefy and ever so bitter from the char of the grill. The beef doesn’t appear to be a fussy blend, it’s straightforward and effective but not exactly inspiring or avante garde. But sometimes that’s okay; there’s nothing better than a burger that knows its own limitations, as much as a burger can or should have personality, sometimes the hand of chef can make it too ambitious for it’s own good. In other words, the simple beef deserves a simple approach, in this case a quick hit of the grill makes the difference in the end product because it matches the overall vibe of the restaurant itself. The seasoning is just fine, and the olive spread on top is borderline genius because it lends a natural saltiness to the burger that may or may not have been missing otherwise. Here the olives are the seasoning, and a hefty dose of the well prepared garlic mayo rounds out one very tasty burger. It’s not completely perfectly cooked, however, like most backyard burgers it’s more or less done depending on the bite, sometimes it’s juicy, other times it’s teetering on dry. The bun is fresh, soft and again, typical, but it’s a smart choice for the burger and it works. The fries are little chips of sorts, more steak than French, but different enough to be noted; they need a touch of salt but are pretty delicious nonetheless. I wish they were more evenly cooked because some are crispy and some are soggy, but overall a good flavor profile and successful.
Back Deck is not quite an original; it mostly feels like a been-there-done-that kind of place both in decor and menu. But it’s just different enough to separate from some of its contemporaries in the local burger scene (Coda, Grafton Street, Post 390). It’s a solid burger, somwhere in the good to very good range, if they can maintain consistency and improve on a few areas (cooking to temp, fries, seasoning) it could be a player in the Boston burger game. For $13 I can’t complain too much, but I’d like it a hell of a lot more if were in that $10 range which it probably deserves to be.
Overall Score: 85