Boston isn’t exactly littered with celebrity chefs. On a national scale, how many casual food fans can really name more than, say, Ming Tsai as a household name that hails from Boston? Well Bobby Flay isn’t from here, and Burlington isn’t quite part of Boston either but after three separate trips to Bobby’s Burger Palace, I can say with confidence that it is a very high quality burger place for what it is. And that “what it is” is really the only true way to identify and properly score the burger; relating it to other similar burgers and nothing more or less. Bobby’s Burger Palace is a fast casual chain of restaurants quietly spreading throughout different regions of the country, and aside from the “local” Burlington location, there is one at Mohegan Sun and quite a few in New Jersey. I ventured to the Mohegan Sun location last month and enjoyed it, much more than the disappointing and far more expensive burger at his flagship, Mesa Grill in New York City. After a lengthy chat with Flay at the opening of the Burlington store and being once again impressed with the burger I ate, I was excited to head back once more to follow up.
Some don’t seem to like the order at the counter and seat yourself logistics, while a server brings the food to a table that is most likely shared by strangers. But it’s not so different from similar places, namely Wild Willy’s and Four Burgers, and I for one have no problem with it. The list of burgers is about ten deep, with a rotating “burger of the month” that is usually influenced by location, as are the majority of the burgers. They are priced from $6.75 to $7.75 with regular fries, sweet potato fries and beer battered onion rings ringing in at $3 a piece. So you’re basically looking at about $11 without a drink, although I do highly recommend the spiked milkshakes. Of the multiple burgers that I’ve sampled, each and every one of them has been liberally flowing with juices and cooked to the requested medium-rare. Cooking a burger to temperature does take some skill, and it’s even more difficult with a burger of this stature, which is on the smaller spectrum of the burger world. But they’ve nailed it, developing a nice crust on the exterior, which is heavily and ideally seasoned with salt and pepper. The bun is a standard grocery store sesame seed bun; it works with the burger and suits it just fine without being anything special. As well cooked and seasoned as the burgers are, there isn’t much mystery to them. It’s ground chuck all the way, which isn’t a knock, but if you’re looking for some crazy beef blend, this isn’t the place for you. It’s also a toppings-driven place, as evident by the simplistic chuck and nailed home by the slew of toppings that adorn the burgers. Nothing crazy in that department either, the Philadelphia burger, for example, has provolone, griddled onions and hot peppers and the Santa Fe burger comes with a queso sauce, pickled jalapenos and blue corn chips. Pretty low-brow stuff, but it’s a burger and it makes sense. The toppings are added with a light to medium hand, and while the hot peppers on the Philadelphia burger almost take over, the beef juices (did I mention there were plenty of them) ultimately take over along with a hefty dose of melted cheese in every burger I tried. Fries, both regular and sweet potato, are thick and flavorful, with the regular ones skin-on, and a good dusting of salt making them worthy of the accompanying burger.
The burgers at Bobby’s Burger Palace fit the bill; they are juicy, seasoned well and the toppings all work with the well proportioned beef to bun ratio. The beef itself is a clear notch above many other fast-casual burger places in the Boston area and quite frankly, this is a much better product by a good distance. I definitely prefer these burgers to fair comparisons, namely Wild Willy’s, Four Burgers, UBurger, Burger Dive and Tasty Burger. But the elephant in the room is the location, which if you’re in the city, Burlington isn’t exactly right around the corner. Is it worthy of a 25-40 minute drive? I’m not so sure, but that doesn’t take away from its greatness. I can’t call it a destination burger, but if you happen to be in or near the area, I certainly think Bobby’s Burger Palace is a very, very good option.
Overall Score: 86