If ever a restaurant was destined to have a burger, it had to be Bronwyn, right? The mere backbone of this place is all about the fat, the salt and the sizzle (generally in an encased form) so it just seemed natural that eventually they would join the burger party. The Bronwyn burger was recently announced to the food-world last week, and I knew I had to have it right away. Sounding so damn great on paper (a bacon studded patty, cabbage-sauerkraut slaw, German potato salad and bacon onion strings on the side) it just had to be great, right?
This may be the most balanced burger I’ve ever had, an attribute you don’t often consider when biting into a burger. It’s salty, beefy, acidic and earthy, with a hefty dose of bacon for good measure. The patty itself is thick and plump, but doesn’t quite stretch to the outer limits of the homemade Challah bun. It has a deeply charred flavor picked up from the grill, but almost to the point of no return as the char imparts far too great of a bitter flavor that peeks its way throughout the meal. The 80/20 mix of grass-fed beef and Wagyu brisket comes out closer to medium and medium-well than the promised medium-rare, which results in a sort of dry patty, although it still manages to have a very pronounced beefy flavor that makes up for the dryness. It somehow dodges the usual livery taste grass-fed can have once it goes beyond medium-rare, and ultimately it just tastes like a typical backyard burger. The patty is also accented by bits of house-made bacon, which you don’t totally notice texturally, but the smokiness is certainly there in a very positive way. The oat-honey Challah roll is nice on its own; soft, light and fresh it isn’t doughy or too bread-y like brioche can be, it just isn’t the proper fit for the patty. Melted Comte cheese is pretty hard to detect and makes me believe it’s borderline unnecessary as a result. An acidic slaw of cabbage, sauerkraut and pickles is a lovely tart balance to all the rich flavors that are going on. Two sides join the burger: potato salad and onion shoestrings, and both are wildly successful. The potato salad is more like a mashed potato salad and is loaded with sharp mustard and is seasoned beautifully; it’s easily one of the best potato salads I’ve ever had. Onion strings are sort of meager in the onion flavor department, but once again the bacon completely lifts it to a very happy place. Some surface seasoning might have been nice, but for something that is often greasy and limp, Bronwyn’s take is crispy and delicious. A gruner sauce is an herbaceous mayo based sauce that goes quite well when applied to the burger and gets along just fine with everyone else.
The Bronwyn burger is definitely a success. One can make the argument that there are probably too many strong flavors going on, yet they all complement one another to a T. Yet some minor missteps with the patty take away a few marks from what truly could have been. The beef, and the beef alone should be the star of the show, and here, it’s not much more than another role player. It still has very good, seemingly earthy notes, although it is a little over-cooked and not quite the right size in proportion to the fine Challah bun. Extra points for originality on this one, featuring plenty of qualities that quite frankly, I’ve never seen in a Boston-area burger. The price is right ($14, even though the press release and subsequent articles claim it to be $13) and hopefully this bar-only menu item stays around for some time.
Overall Score: 85