BEEF BRIEF: The Hunter’s Inn’s Caprese Burger
During our day-to-day adventures, we plow through so many burgs and we fail to share a lot of them here at Burger Days. We think that’s just wrong. So in an effort to spread more beefy goodness, we introduce Beef Briefs, short, brief looks at more of the burgers we take to the face.
Where’s the beef?
It’s right f**king here.
The Crew took a trip up through richy-rich Potomac last weekend and dipped into The Hunter’s Inn on River Road for a quick bite. We weren’t seeking out the burgs when we stumbled into the joint, but when there’s a half-price burger special going on, you can bet ground beef is ending up inside us.
We ducked into the pub section of the place which would have fit in perfectly at Bushwood Country Club, pre-Al Czervik. With stained glass windows, old-ass paintings you’d only find at your grandparents or Antiques Roadshow and no shortage of gray-haired, rich-looking, popped-collar-Polo-shirt-wearing clientele bellied up to the bar, we wouldn’t have been surprised to see Judge Smails sitting in the corner.
But no matter– we were here for the grub, not for the company.
We bypassed the three run-of-the-mill beef burgers on the menu (cheeseburger, hickory and one with onion strings) and instead opted for the Burger of the Week. The special turned out to be a Caprese burg done up with mozzarella, basil, tomato and a balsamic reduction– the exact same makeup of BGR’s current BOTM. But while the ingredients were identical, we found Hunter’s Inn’s execution to be a step above the D.C. chain’s.
The menu claims the burgers are made with fresh-ground beef and our experience gave us no reason to think otherwise. While our rare order did come out more medium rare, the patty was adequately seasoned, sufficiently juicy and displayed a distinct set of grill marks that hooked up a light char. All in all, it was a solid hunk of meat.
One of the biggest differences with this Caprese, was that Hunter’s Inn opted to chiffonade the basil (that’s fancy French talk for “shred the shit up”) whereas BGR’s version features the herb in whole-leaf form. We found the chiffonade technique superior, as it allows for better distribution of the basil, with the flavor permeating through each bite. It’s a small difference in prep but makes for a big difference in taste.
The mozzarella on the burger was not completely melted –but not completely cold either– and sliced thin enough so we weren’t biting into a chunk of cheese. The mild flavor played well with the tomato, which was similarly well-proportioned in the mix, and contrasted nicely with the tangy sharpness of the balsamic. In fact, our only real complaint with the Caprese was the sparing amount of balsamic reduction they used. It was our favorite flavor of the burger and we would’ve gladly welcomed another squirt of the stuff. The run-of-the-mill, sesame-seeded bun was fine, and did nothing to add or detract from the whole thing.
While the service was spotty –but inoffensive– and our presence certainly lowered the curve of Ralph Lauren-wearing customers, we were more than pleasantly surprised with the burgers we downed at this country-club-ish joint. If we ever find ourselves in need of a ground beef fix along this stretch of River Road again, we wouldn’t hesitate to give Hunter’s Inn another go.
(FYI, their web site is a bit of a shit show. A visit to thehuntersinn.com takes you to their site, only it says “Bryans Bistro” at the top of the page. Plus, the online lunch menu contains no mention of burgers– you’ll find them on the dinner menu. Burgers are $14 a pop and come with a side of fries, though when we visited on a Saturday afternoon, they were half-price.)
The Hunter’s Inn | 10123 River Road | Potomac | thehuntersinn.com