Archive for January, 2013

Burgers with Bobby Flay

January 30th, 2013 by Richard Chudy

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When I was first contacted about the opening of the newest Bobby’s Burger Palace in Burlington, with the chance to meet Iron Chef Bobby Flay, I didn’t think much of it. I mostly expected to be lost in a sea of other burger fans and media people alike, maybe get a quick handshake from Chef Flay but nothing more than that. Leading up to the event I was approached again to see if I wanted to have a quick “q and a” before the doors opened to the general public at 5pm. I figured it sounded like fun so we headed off to the Burlington Mall on an absolutely freezing Sunday afternoon to chat with Bobby Flay. I’ve long admired Bobby Flay, respecting his cooking style and love of flavors from the Southwest. We were seated right by the window while a crowd of hungry burger fans waited in line, my head filled with millions of burger and cooking questions I wanted to throw his way. Humble and gracious, we talked for a good half hour before we shook hands and got ready for the press event to start. Along the way we discussed his passion for burgers, noting that it’s common among chefs post-shift to go for the burger versus “foie gras and caviar,” like some are led to believe. What he wants for Bobby’s Burger Palace, already in business for four and a half years in other locations, is to be a “casual concept everyone can understand and afford.” Ultimately that means a more toppings driven place opposed to something more oriented towards a unique beef blends. As much as he’d love to use a LaFrieda blend, it’s too inconsistent from one order to the next, Flay tells me, so using the same beef for all of his restaurants ensures the same burger each and every time. Being a young business ourselves we were curious how he keeps things consistent. Flay stresses that he almost always hires within and many of his employees have been working with him since the beginning. He also, contrary to popular belief, stops in all of his restaurants on a very regular basis, to further ensure the product is consistent with what he wants his staff to do. continue reading »

Burger Dive

January 29th, 2013 by Richard Chudy

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It’s not so much a different version, it’s merely a similar product to what’s already out there and established. Burger Dive in Somerville’s Assembly Square has the look and feel like many of its contemporaries, namely Tasty Burger, Wahlburgers, Five Guys and UBurger. Calling it anything short of fast food would be setting your expectations too high. No, it isn’t the golden arches but it’s a quick service burger joint and has all the stigmas that go along with that. It already has the appearance that it could multiply into even more locations; in other words, this one is pretty formulaic. But the menu is promising, with a healthy dose of the normal burger concoctions to slightly different arrangements including a 50/50 burger with half bacon and half beef,  plus different burgers showcasing Fritos and potato chips. The food comes out quickly but not so fast that it’s been sitting under a heating lamp all day. Heck, they even have a burger car parked outside the restaurant that piqued my interest. continue reading »

The State of Boston Burgers

January 25th, 2013 by Richard Chudy

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Where do we go from here? There’s been as much burger activity as ever it seems, with even more burger-centric establishments opening up and a slew of non-burger-centric restaurants offering their take on the classic American sandwich. (yes I called it a Sandwich, deal with it) But with all this onslaught of meat and bun combinations, have we progressed over the past year or so? Has the burger reached the pinnacle point it was supposed to have by now? If we projected where I thought the future burgers would be a couple of years ago, I’d say we’re behind the curve. Every now and then we get a literal taste of new and exciting flavors (smoked miso aioli from Strip-T’s, anything from the Sammy’s Seven at JM Curley, the off-menu “secret” burger at Russell House Tavern come to mind) but those are few and far between. Too often it’s poorly caramelized onions, a not-so-fresh aioli, pickled anything and everything or a ramekin of Heinz ketchup. Where is the creativity? We should learn how to mix up our game.  A fried egg used to be cool (still delicious by the way) but now everyone does it and most overcook it. There is very little originality these days and it’s troubling, but maybe the burger doesn’t warrant enough avant garde toppings and techniques to generate a great deal of  interest. continue reading »

Farmstead Table

January 14th, 2013 by Richard Chudy

IMG_1113Yet another case of a burger that has slowly built a positive reputation, the new-ish Farmstead Table in Newton has received pretty good grades from some local critics, with more than a few of them being impressed by the burger. The fairly priced $15 burger showcases grass-fed beef, smoked baby Swiss, New Hampshire bacon and a choice of fries or a salad. Of course, you have to be a real weirdo to opt for the salad but if that’s your thing then go for it. While we chewed the fat waiting for our burgers to arrive, we tried to recall a grass-fed burger ever being exceptional. The short answer is no, at least not in these parts (I supposed anywhere for that matter) because grass-fed is simply too lean to be great. Technically the Craigie burger is locally sourced and grass-fed, but it’s the addition of beef fat and a few other unique touches that separate that burger from the field. The Farmstead Table burger arrives, looking like a winner if not oddly shaped. It’s very classically a pub burger in some ways, featuring a very thick and wide bun and patty with a slight softball appearance to it. continue reading »

City Landing

January 3rd, 2013 by Richard Chudy

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I don’t need my ideal burger to win any beauty contests, I just want it to taste great. The City Landing burger is really friggin’ good looking, but it’s all beauty and no substance. All of the elements should have been there, and maybe, just maybe, a return visit would yield different results. I only say that because the burger fails largely due to a universal lack of seasoning, but that’s a tough road to recover from. It’s a $15 burger that of course sounds nice on paper (scallion-basil aioli, caramelized onions, sliced pickle, spiced fries) but that’s where the excitement ends.  continue reading »