Only Put the Pacific Northwest in Your Face This Month [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.
Our review of October’s BOTMs:
Pacific Northwest Burger – Bobby’s Burger Palace
I’m so confused and fascinated by this burger. The stuff on Bobby’s Burger Palace’s menu – either the regular menu or the stuff that falls off the regular menu to become sporadic specials – are confusing.
You have this excellent burger, standardized across all the burgers, topped with occasionally unnecessary toppings. Sometimes, something unique pops, but it doesn’t jive with the name, or the toppings themselves fight one another. Supposedly the Pacific Northwest burger has sautéed cremini mushrooms from the northwest, a white cheddar also from the northwest, and a barbecue sauce made of red wine from a general region that is neither south and also at the same time not from anywhere eastward. And while the specifics are slim, and the burger concept has zero inspiration behind it, it’s a really, REALLY good burger. I’m actually a little mad at myself for liking it like I did.
Let’s start with the mushrooms: I don’t like mushrooms. It’s mostly psychological. Too many people telling me “they’re just like steak!” Yes, a soggy, spongy, not at all meaty steak. Woo-freakin-hoo. Contrast with these sautéed beauties, cut into quarters and with enough chew and earthy funk that they didn’t taste like meat, but I wasn’t led to expect they would. The sauce (a pretty basic, thin barbecue sauce,) had a decent enough hit of earthy red wine that I could taste it without thinking they’d just boiled down red wine and catsup. And the cheese, oh baby the tangy, perfectly melted, not at all grease-pooled cheese. So good. Throw it all on their better than average patty and ugh.
Totally unoriginal menu reject- yet so damn tasty.
– Jeb (@jebgavin)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Taste: 9; Creativity: 1; Overall: 7.5
Oktoberfest Burger (again) – BGR The Burger Joint
REPEAT BURGER ALERT
This month’s BOTM review isn’t as much of a review as it is a brat burg showdown. October, or at least the first week of it, featured two Oktoberfest themed burgers from local joints. Tyson’s Corner provided a perfect setting for the Oktoberfest burger face-off – with locations of BGR and Shack Shake just minutes apart – and gave me the opportunity to grab burgs from both and shove them in my face at the same time.
While you may have missed your chance to score the Shake Shack Brat burger, the BGR Oktoberfest burger is still available. Sausage expert Jeb already rejected the bratwurst that BGR puts on their burger as too sweet and I completely agree. It is especially evident when you compare it to the bacon cheddar-stuffed brat that Shake Shack throws on its beef. The bacon and cheese brat is good enough to stand up on its own, but when it’s on top of some hot beef with crispy ShackMeister Ale-marinated shallots and ShackSauce, it’s a great creation.
BGR went full Bavaria and attempted to bring in all facets of the Oktoberfest stereotype. Pretzel, check. Mustard (ale), check. Bratwurst, check. Sauerkraut, check. The problem is that the sum of the whole is not equal to the parts. The pretzel bun is a dense and giant obstacle to the meat. It also ends up dwarfing the kraut and mustard ale. It wasn’t bad necessarily, it was just too much when compared to the simple goodness of the brat burger.
Shack Shack may have the edge over BGR in terms of Oktoberfest burgs but you’ll have to wait 335 days to try the Brat burger again. If you’re feeling like German overload, try BGR’s but be warned: it’s groß (big).
– Adam (@addc)
BOTM Rating on BGR (out of 10):
Taste: 6; Creativity: 0; Overall: 0 (docked 5 for being a repeat)
The Badger – Burger Tap & Shake
I’m not sure if BTS is running out of ideas or they really just wanted to bring back their bratwurst sandwich because of the whole Oktoberfest thing. Whatever the reason, The Badger – a former menu item axed last year – returned to the limited-time mix this month.
First up: make no mistake about it, this thing ain’t a burger. I called this thing a sandwich because it is a sandwich. Unlike other brat burgers this month, the Badger eschews the beef all together and puts the brat in patty form. Only instead of a ground-meat patty, it’s a hockey puck of pork. It’s like someone took a cookie cutter to a ham steak and then plopped it out onto a griddle. Completing the mix is a slathering of spicy mustard (this was tasty), a handful of sauerkraut (loved this, just wanted more) and Swiss (melted to perfection). It’s got everything a brat does and, shit, it DOES taste just like a brat but that’s the thing: a brat ain’t a burger. It’s a brat.
Was it tasty? Yup. I like brats. But I like burgers even more. And when we sit down to eat these BOTMs, we’re expecting beef. Now, if they would have made the pork disc a little thinner and tossed that onto a beef patty, now THAT would have been burger worthy.
But they didn’t. So it’s not.
– Jody (@burgerdays)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Taste: 6; Creativity: 1.5; Overall: 4
2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW | DC | burgertapandshake.com
French Onion Soup – Dogwood Tavern
As a concept, the October BOTM offering from Dogwood is a good one. French onion soup is such a dynamic food entity; a deep savory broth mixed with rich creamy cheese and sweet caramelized onions. And sloppy….oh such a gloriously messy soup. If you aren’t at least a little embarrassed to be eating your soup in front of others, then you aren’t eating the right soup. A good French onion soup should have you slurping up onions and picking cheese out of your mustache; it should be telling the entire restaurant, “I’m sorry ladies….I won’t be needing any company tonight….I’ve got soup.”
Putting that kind of messy comfort food into a burger, well that should just be a slam dunk, home run, power play, miscellaneous sports analogy kind of winner…..right?
Damn…not so much. While all of the critical element are represented – onions, cheese and beef – the overall burger is bland and really doesn’t capture the character of a good French onion soup. The onion soup seasoning in the beef was just barely enough to make its presence known, but not enough to really transform the patty. I expected a rich and sharp contribution from the Parmesan and provolone tandem, but instead I found a blend of mild cheeses (I actually had to open the bun to see if there was any Parmesan on my burger). Even the crispy onion strings felt a bit boring, adding a dash of salt to the mix, but not much sweet. Not a bad burger by any means, but it falls very short of expectations and doesn’t really resemble the robust french onion soup – either in flavor or demeanor.
– Matt (@yaysaps)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Taste: 5; Creativity: 7; Overall: 5
132 West Broad Street | Falls Church | dogwoodtavern.com