Yet 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.
The first couple of bites are interesting; the burger is well rested because the juices stay in the patty and don’t spill all over the plate. It’s not exactly gushing but it’s not dry either. It has a funky flavor that is pleasant in the medium-rare parts but overly odd in a liver kind of way in the medium to medium-well spots. But that’s grass-fed for you, at its best it’s distinct if not positively funky, and at its worst it’s not so enjoyable but that may just be a personal preference. Even if it was cooked perfectly all around it’s too unconventional to be great and this burger is no exception. But the inconsistent cooking is a big deterrent here, and it’s so tightly packed it becomes very, very tough and to the point of chewy. Even more so the burger is dense, very over-handled and it shows. Eating this burger feels and acts very heavy, this one in fact will weigh you down. Which of course is the antithesis of grass-fed burgers if you think about it; people tend to gravitate towards them because they are leaner and thus, should be lighter. The Farmstead Table burger is well-seasoned but it just doesn’t add up to a quality meal. The bacon is nicely flavored; smoky and sweet it fits the bill, but the cheese is a non-factor and any potential smoke appears to be just an illusion. The bricohe-like bun is airy and soft but like most brioche buns before it, is simply too much bread even for a thick burger like this one. French Fries are on the thicker side and have a good crunch and exterior of salt, with a hollow yet creamy interior. They are efficient but unexceptional.
While it is unique based on decent grass-fed beef and well prepared bacon, the meat to bun ratio and over-packing of the burger are the eventual downfall. There is a pretty solid crust on the patty, which is fairly juicy and modestly seasoned if not unevenly cooked across the board. If you’re curious about the grass-fed movement it may be worth a look, even if the end product leaves a little something to be desired.
Overall Score: 75