If I had my pick of what to do on any given day, I’d say wolfing down a burger might be at the top of my list. Now, throw in an extra twenty burgers and we might be in business. Or, I might be in over my head. And welcome to Boston Magazine’s Battle of the Burger, 2014 addition. I had the privilege of being a judge for the home griller’s portion of the program, where three super talented home cooks duked it out to see who made the best burger. They were all fantastic, and the winner, Mike O’Connell, created a duck burger unlike anything I’ve ever had before. Despite my preference and being more of a beef purist with my burgers, the duck was lush, elegant and insanely delicious and he was a well deserved winner. It was quite an honor being on the panel with fellow judges Leah Mennies (food editor of Boston Magazine), Kelly Olynyk (Celtic player, and admittedly the person I was most excited to meet) and Ron Savenor of the famed Savenor’s. The evening was mc’d by my good friend, Jason Rossi, of Radio 92.9 fame. The rest of the night was a thrill as I sampled burgers from all the participating restaurants, a bunch of which I hadn’t had before. Many were very classically prepared, and a few were completely original for the event and I certainly had an amazing (albeit a very full) time. My personal favorite was the burger from Zebra’s Bistro, who served up a smaller version of their house burger, arriving on a challah bun and topped with miso aioli, Vermont cheddar, bacon and pickled red onions. The winner, for the second year in a row, was the popular Blue Ox in Lynn, and I clearly need a re-visit since many people claim this to be the best burger in the area. All in all it was a fantastic night with great food and great friends and I can’t wait to come back again next year.
Situated in Newtonville, the newish location of Rox Diner (the original being in West Roxbury) is all about breakfast all day, with a pretty burger-heavy menu for those folks not looking for French Toast for dinner. What really grabbed me right off the bat was the proclamation that they use LaFrieda beef; in this case a short rib and chuck blend. LaFrieda is of course one of the better, if not arguably the best beef you can get out there (Shake Shack for one uses their product as well as many of the top spots in NYC) so I was especially eager to try them out. Basic cheeseburgers begin at $12 and climb to $14.75 for a couple of the more involved, so there is something for everyone. continue reading »
Finding myself in Western Mass for a weekend, I knew a burger was obviously going to be in the cards. After a quick stop at the new outpost of White Hut, I found my way into High Horse, a brewery and pub in Amherst. Like any good pub, it devotes a large portion of the food menu to burgers, which the restaurant boasts as being ground in-house every morning. Pickles and buns, I’m also told, are made in-house as well. If you think making pickles isn’t a big deal (and I would agree with you) take a look at all the local Boston restaurants that use pickles (while still delicious) from another hometown company. Generally lots of components are made in-house, but the pickle is often outsourced and I never understand why. A refreshing but painfully small pour of a Saison joined my lunch as I sat outside on the patio. continue reading »
I sometimes wish I could set my own price after I eat a burger. Not to be cheap, but merely to see if what I think it should be valued at is the actual number on the menu. It can go either way; many burgers taste far more extravagant than their humble price tag while oftentimes pricier options just don’t add up for me. Put Ceia Kitchen and Bar somewhere in the middle; not quite a bargain but but not a major disappointment either. The $16 Kobe burger is topped with manchego cheese, serrano ham, tomato, smoked paprika aioli and served with duckfat fries. It certainly sounded like it was worthy of the slightly hefty price tag, and after waiting a good hour for the food to arrive, I could hardly wait to dive right in. continue reading »
For the past couple of years Boston Magazine has held the Battle of the Burger, a fun night where chefs and restaurants compete for burger supremacy. This year I’m back for the second time as a judge for the home griller competition, where home cooks create their best burger and the winner gets all sorts of prizes and bragging rights. I’m thrilled to be back participating again this year in what they are now calling The Cookout. New this year is the addition of The Cue, a competition to see who has the best BBQ in the area plus ten local bartenders will be slinging some cocktails in their own competition. It’s two nights that are sure to be incredible, and I’m lucky enough to be able to do a giveaway for two general admission tickets each to both The Cue (which includes the mixologist portion) on August 12th and the Battle of the Burger on August 13th. So which one do you want to go to? Just comment below (only once please) telling me which event you’d rather go to and why and choose wisely. I will choose one winner for The Cue and one winner for the Battle of the Burger. For an extra chance to win please visit my Facebook page and Twitter account (with the hashtag #BigCue or #burgerbattle) and tell me which event you prefer. I’ll announce two winners on Tuesday, August 4th at random. Good luck and I hope to see you in August!!
The folks behind White Horse Tavern in Allston (also of The Avenue, Harry’s Bar and Grill and Shanghai Social Club, to name a few) invited me in yesterday to chat burgers, of course. Lucky for me (and for all of you) it’s a pretty damn good time to be invested in the burger business, as places seem to be popping up left and right these days, but I for one always think there is room for more. I’m proud to be be the first to report that White Horse Tavern is going to be a lot more burger-centric on their menu in the coming days and weeks. I sampled a bunch and was incredibly impressed with the quality of beef (ground in-house from Pineland Farms), house-made pickles and freshly baked house buns. The 4 ounce chuck roll patties are cooked on a massive flat-top and some of the burgers include a brunch burger with hash browns, a fried egg and bacon, and a ballpark burger made with a sausage patty, peppers, onions and fresh mozzarella. The menu is a la carte but the basic burger starts at $4, with sides (Sea Salt Fries, Parmesan Truffle Fries) starting at $1.50. I also wanted to share that on Tuesday, August 5th beginning at 11:30am, White Horse Tavern will be giving away 1,000 burgers until they run out or at midnight, whichever comes first. You will receive a 4 ounce griddled fresh ground Pineland Farms beef burger, on a freshly baked house bun, homemade pickles, and choice of cheese. 1 per customer, no additional purchase needed. Additional toppings and fries are menu price. Over 21 after 7pm. Chef Josh Davis says he dares the Allston community to eat 1,000 free burgers on August 5th. I’m definitely not one to blow smoke, but I was very impressed with the burgers I tried, and have long been a proponent of the burgers at The Avenue for years. The new menu officially rolls out on July 29th, so do yourself a favor and check it out sometime soon.