Missed Execution & Unoriginal Winners Highlight September’s 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.
The latest BOTM review on September’s burgers:
PB&J Burger – Dogwood Tavern
When it comes to burgers, creativity comes in several forms. There’s the Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink strategy which oftentimes results in a beef-on-bun creation akin to a skyscraper. Then there’s the We-So-Crazy method where joints throw seemingly random, unconventional toppings into the mix. Another less spectacular but no less creative approach is the Cerebral Creation we’ve seen recently from places like BTS and Dogwood.
Take Dogwood’s September BOTM. Other joints have done the whole PB&J burger thing (i.e. Ted’s Bulletin) but Dogwood’s version was an entirely different and well-thought-out approach to the classic combo. For the PB half of the duo, rather than the typical creamy or chunky nut butter, it’s a Thai peanut sauce. On the jelly side, there was no Smucker’s or Welch’s Grape– instead they used a spicy tomato pepper jam. The two were joined by a bed of arugula, healthy layer of grilled onions and, continuing the sandwich theme, it was served on Texas toast. It’s like something a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen would make in an attempt to impress Gordon Ramsay during a burger challenge episode.
The presentation was good. Dogwood did an excellent job filling up the toast with burger so as to not leave any bread-only corners– a common mistake made when joints ditch the buns for a square loaf. Both the arugula and onion were substantial but just about spot on in proportion to the meat and bread. All in all, it was a very pretty burger.
As for the taste, soft bread with a crispy, toasted layer gave way to the peppery crunch of arugula on one side and a slightly more intense bite through grilled onions on the other. After voyaging past the produce, the next encounter was an intense slap to the taste buds from the tomato pepper jam. The jam lit up my mouth with an unexpected, but not unwelcome, kick of heat and melded pleasantly with the greens, onions and beef. I was so much enjoying the unique flavor combo of it all that I almost overlooked the fact a top-billed star of the burger was missing. Namely, the PB.
It’s not like it wasn’t there. But this would be like plastering Will Smith’s face on the posters of your quirky art film and then using him as an extra during the opening credits scene. Sure, you sell a bunch of tickets and you might even win at Sundance, but all the audience remembers is how you dicked them over with borderline false advertising. That’s kinda how I felt with this burger.
Yeah, technically there was peanut sauce there but it was in such a scant amount that I couldn’t taste it. And I was looking. This isn’t Where’s Waldo Burger Edition. I shouldn’t have to strain and concentrate to see if I can pick out the taste of an ingredient from all the others.
If this had been presented as simply a spicy tomato jam burger, it would have been very good, though not very creative. But still, it would have earned higher points for being true to itself.
While I applaud the shit out of Dogwood for their twist on a classic, I just wish they had stuck the landing.
– Jody (@burgerdays)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Creativity: 8.5; Overall: 5
132 West Broad Street | Falls Church | dogwoodtavern.com
Cheyenne – Bobby’s Burger Palace
In the past I’ve been underwhelmed by Bobby’s Burger Palace, and while I’ve never had a bad burger there, the offerings haven’t exactaly been chart topping. Well, I’m happy to say this month’s BOTM finally delivered on its beefy potential.
In truth, I’m a sucker for this particular assembly: BBQ, bacon ‘n cheddar tickle my taste buds something fierce. So while I might be an easy mark, this burger is seriously good. The BBQ sauce walked a nice line between sweet and tangy and the shoestring onion rings added some sweet oniony flavor along with the crunch factor. Oh, and there was bacon, and bacon is always good. Sure, you’ve probably seen this burger on dozens of menus all over the world, so maybe it’s not the most creative, but the execution was on point. Everything worked together in harmony, but didn’t distract or steal the spotlight from the true star…and finally –FINALLY– the beef came through! Easily the most well seasoned, best tasting patty I’ve had at the BBP. Serious flavor from Chef Flay’s burger-rama!
– Matt (@yaysaps)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Creativity: 4; Overall: 10
2121 K Street, NW | DC | bobbysburgerpalace.com
Bayou Le Batre – Burger Tap & Shake
Rarely am I angry when it comes to foodstuff. Disappointed, confused, grumbly, but almost never angry. And in the event that I am angry, it’s usually because the difference between what I’m told to expect and what I get is staggering and logic-defying; being told you’re going to eat a burger and getting a charcoal briquette is close. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to semantics. Sure, “burger” can encompass a wide array of foods, however much I’d like it to refer only to ground beef. But somewhere along the spectrum of “stuff between two pieces of bread,” things are no longer “burger” just because they’re ground up protein. If you wouldn’t call a crab cake a burger, you wouldn’t call Burger Tap Shake’s September burger of the month a burger. Hell, even beyond the nomenclature, it wasn’t a very good shrimp cake.
Yes, it was crisped nicely on the outside, but somehow the texture of minced shrimp was more telling of its content than the flavor. Yeah, a shrimp patty that didn’t taste of shrimp. And toppings, to which I am generally indifferent- should elevate the patty and compliment it. A piece of lettuce and a slice of hot house tomato (seriously, fuck your mealy, watery, pointless winter tomatoes) do not constitute toppings, nor does the “scampi” aioli constitute a sauce, tasting of a thin Thousand Island dressing with a little extra pepper in it. You’ve already decided you’re calling a fried patty of shrimp salad a burger, why the hell aren’t you going all in- Sriracha cocktail sauce, maybe some shrimp chips for crunch, some smashed avocados because you can?
Really, it’s a mediocre sandwich, which is to say, it didn’t seem like enough thought went into it to even qualify as bad. You know when you’re out of town, say you find yourself at a nice restaurant in the Midwest, and you see Maryland crab cake on the menu, and for some perverse reason you can’t help but try it? That’s what this is, a sad attempt to check off a box on the “we tried that, didn’t we?” list. Pointless, poorly conceived, and not a burger. Plus, at 10 bucks, you could’ve just thrown down another 10 and gotten endless shrimp and Cheddar Bay biscuits at Red Lobster.
– Jeb (@jebgavin)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
As a burger:
Creativity: 0; Overall: 0
As a fried shrimp patty sandwich:
Creativity: 0; Overall: 2
2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW | DC | burgertapandshake.com
All-American – BGR The Burger Joint
The All-American featured BGR’s usual prime, dry-aged beef with cheddar cheese, applewood bacon, an onion ring and topped off with barbecue sauce. In today’s saturated burger market, throwing those ingredients on a burger is no longer original. At one point, even Burger King had a burger with all three, so right away the All-American loses creativity points. Don’t get me wrong, BGR’s patty and bacon are quality products but a BOTM deserves better — especially with the beginning of fall and everything that comes along with it.
The combination, while unoriginal, was fundamentally good. They added mojo sauce below the patty but aside from taste of bacon, the burger was dominated by the barbecue. It was a sweet sauce with a little tang and managed to overpower the other flavors. Being a burger connoisseur, I could nit-pick but this burger but it was solid so I had it twice during the month, satisfying my BOTM gluttony. Overall, it was good but could use some tweaking next time around.
– Adam (@addc)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Creativity: 4; Overall: 8
September BOTM Rankings:
1) Bobby’s Burger Palace – Cheyenne (7)
2) Dogwood Tavern – PB&J Burger (6.75)
3) BGR The Burger Joint – All-American Burger (6)
4) Burger Tap & Shake – Bayou Le Batre (1)