Holly Jolly, No Thanks. It’s Not the Best Time of the Year for Burgers [BOTM Review]
We’re champions of creativity here at Burger Days– it’s one of the reasons we highlight the area’s special monthly burgers with our BOTM posts. Not content with just reading about them, we also make it our mission to seek out and throw each of these creations into our faces.
And now, we’re hitting you with the reviews while THESE BURGERS ARE STILL AROUND, so you can actually find out which of the BOTMs you should eat…or avoid.
(Spoiler: Avoid them ALL and just hit up our 2014 Burgers of the Year instead!)
Our review of December’s BOTMs:
Caesar Burger – Bobby’s Burger Palace
I just can’t seem to understand how a creation like this came from a chef with the pedigree of Mr. Food Network, Bobby Flay.
The Caesar is a departure from BBP’s typical spice-infused burgers, as rather than beef topped with one of the myriad BBQ sauces or chipotle ketchups at Flay’s joint, it’s just a bunch of lettuce on a plain hamburger. Plus a dollop of Caesar dressing-flavored mayo. It’s mind-boggling how this can be considered a “special” burger at a place that specializes in burgers, let alone one from an Iron Chef. If Flay pulled this shit in Kitchen Stadium, Alton Brown would kick his ass.
The beef itself was fine – a touch over seasoned but not too bad and cooked to a decent medium rare. But the only stand-out component of the burger was the Romaine. Yup, the only thing that peaked my interest while eating this thing was a bunch of fucking lettuce. It was pretty good. Well, as good as lettuce can be, I guess. The trio of Romaine hearts supplied a hearty crunch to each bite and valiantly tried to break up the monotony of the terribly mundane burger-eating experience. The Caesar mayo had a bit of tang but since half of the stuff dripped out onto my plate after the first bite, it was hard to notice. Oh, and that Parmesan – which looks fresh grated in the PR shot – might as well have been shaken from a green can because it was just as tasteless. And finally, the cracked black pepper was overkill on a burger that was already teetering on the over-seasoned brink.
The idea of a salad-themed burger sucks but the execution sucks even more.
– Jody (@burgerdays)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Taste: 5; Creativity: 1; Overall: 3
Prime Rib Burger – BGR The Burger Joint
Ahh Christmas….a season of repeats and reruns. Old holiday favorites are peppered across the TV spectrum, packaged as marathons and classics: “Christmas Vacation,” “A Christmas Story,” “Elf,” “The Grinch”…that “Saved by the Bell” episode where the gang take in a homeless family because Christmas (and Zack’s libido). Recycled plots each with a “modern twist” on some Dickensian premise. Heck, I’m even recycling a “Saved by the Bell” joke from a previous write-up. Yup, tis the season of unoriginality and BGR is right in them mix serving up the same holiday burger they offered last month. Fa Lah Lah Lah Lah.
In truth, this kind of burger is really right up my alley. Stuff, on top of stuff, with other stuff and gravy. Its the kind of sandwich you make on a Sunday afternoon by going through the fridge pulling out whatever leftover stuff you have on hand. In this case, the “stuff” is thinly sliced prime rib, sautéed mushrooms and mashed potatoes…with gravy. Man, I sure do love gravy..and mashed potatoes…and meat on top of meat. As a sandwich, this burger is messy, savory fun. As a burger though, there’s not a lot of harmony and if I’m being honest, the gravy kind of mutes a very well seasoned beef patty.
– Matt (@yaysap)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Taste: 6; Creativity: 0; Overall: 3
Rudolph – Burger Tap & Shake
Well that was a big wet fart to finish out an otherwise unimpressive year in burgers. In reviewing, I try not to go full blast on anyone or anything. There’s rarely NO redeeming quality to any sandwich. But this thing pissed me off so thoroughly, I’m just gonna list a bunch of things wrong in no particular order. That said, first and always foremost: it’s not made of beef. Thus it’s not a burger. At best it’s a ground meat sandwich.
In the event you’re going to construct any kind of ground meat sandwich (even a burger,) NEVER PUT THE FUCKING LETTUCE UNDER THE PATTY. The veg wilts, but it also acts like a corrugated plastic roof, and all the accumulated juices run right off onto the plate. I’m not saying put it right on a dry bun, that’s why there are mayo based sauces to mix with the juices and form a moisture barrier. Poor stacking leads to an even drier ground meat sandwich.
If you make a ground meat sandwich and you don’t season the patty before you cook it, you’re effectively making people a topping sandwich with a lot of extra protein. Imagine a BLT with a hard sponge full of liquid soy protein in the middle. Even unseasoned firm tofu has a bit of flavor, whereas this patty was overshadowed by the bun. BY THE BUN.
Venison is delicious, even the farm-raised version (commercial meat has to be farm raised. Even deer.) But it’s very lean. So you want to cook it carefully. Or, like this “burger,” you can add pork to up the fat content and cook it however you want. Except if you add pork, you probably won’t taste the venison, which negates the point of it being there. Honestly, this patty could’ve been made of beef and formed into the shape of a reindeer using a cookie cutter, and it would’ve made more sense to call the damn thing “Rudolph.”
Gruyere is this nutty, funky cheese with a weird bit of sweetness to it. It’s a personal favorite (shout out to Kalbach!) thus I know it doesn’t melt well unless you make it into fondue. That this cheese managed to melt evenly without leaving too much more of a grease slick is amazing, but a grease slick that at least tasted of cheese would’ve been better. Also, what’s the point of there being a gruyere here? You needed cheese, though, “uh, St. Nick is from somewhere in the middle of Europe, better go with a European cheese that isn’t Italian or French or English”? Is there some Swiss yuletide tradition I’m missing where they pretend to be German and top abysmal sandwiches with mediocre versions of their classic cheeses?
Now we come to the only two elements of the ground meat sandwich with any flavor, however poorly reasoned: the onions and the mustard. Sweet and sour onions actually require very little effort to make. Onions, especially sliced thin and sautéed are naturally sweet. Add a splash of vinegar and you’re done. Except not if you’re going to add one of the tartest berries out there to your mustard. Yeah, sour onions topped with mustard (which already contains vinegar) that’s laced with what? Last month’s cranberries? Just let me chug a bottle of old cider vinegar, it’d be quicker. Also, it’s December, your meat sandwich is named after one of Santa’s reindeer and the condiment is from Thanksgiving. Brilliant. Perhaps you’d care to join me next Arbor Day when I’ll inexplicably be serving Easter Candy to confused people who’ve lost their sense of taste and smell.
Cranberries are delicious, even in a mustard. Onions are wonderful when sautéed and doused with vinegar. Swiss gruyere is a reason to venture out from cheddar, but you have to respect it’s not going to magically melt just from good wishes. Venison is an awesome meat and more people should eat more of it (I’ve still got parts from three different deer in my freezer as I write this.) And pork is pork. To hell with you if you need more of an explanation there. What happened here was a waste of ingredients and a waste of money. I’ve had more cohesive and memorable nightmares.
– Jeb (@jebgavin)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Taste: 0; Creativity: 0; Overall: 0.5 (for the bun)
2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW | DC | burgertapandshake.com
Let’s get this one out of the way early: the Frikadeller is not a burger. Not even close. This “burger” of the month from Dogwood is a Danish meatball served like an open-faced sandwich. It comes with gravy and sweet and sour red cabbage on a piece of toasted rye. The meatball itself is a pork and beef combination with onion, celery and spices. Dogwood’s version may be closer to meat patty than meatball but either way this is definitely comfort food, Scandinavian style.
If you put some meat covered with gravy on plate in front me, I’m probably going to enjoy it. The Frikadeller itself was ultimately overpowered by the gravy but that’s not always a bad thing. Eating this thing was a bit of a struggle due to some hard bread but the gravy-meatball combo is a classic cold weather combination. Overall, it wasn’t bad but, in the end, this is not a burger.
– Adam (@addc)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Taste: 7; Creativity: 6; Overall: 6
132 West Broad Street | Falls Church | dogwoodtavern.com