Too Much Meat, Nachos On a Bun & Not-So-Stuffed Burgers [BOTM RECAP]
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 October’s burgers:
Oktoberfest – BGR The Burger Joint
I’m going to type something I never thought I’d put down on paper , or electronic media, or whatever the hell this new medium is called: there is such a thing as too much meat.
Ugh…I hate myself for typing those words, but it’s true. The last BGR offering I reviewed was the White Trash burger back in June, and while that burger looked like a hit on paper (pulled pork + beef = smiles) it left me questioning how well different meats actually play together when sandwiched between a bun. This month’s Oktoberfest offering of bratwurst and beef sure sounded like a winner, but rather than producing smooth harmony like Hall & Oates, the two meats fought for the spotlight like Lauren & Heidi*.
Independently, everything about this burger was great. The beef at BGR is always well seasoned and perfectly cooked and this burger was no exception. The stone-ground ale mustard was delicious (this is coming from someone who does not enjoy mustard) and while the sauerkraut was strong, it wasn’t overpowering. Also, I’m a sucker for the pretzel bun. Firm and chewy, the bun absorbed all of the juicy burger goodness while adding a slightly different flavor twist. The issue was that the bratwurst was simply too good.
After a few bites, I completely forgot about the beef and actually found myself wishing for a straightforward bratwurst rather than the meaty hydra. Halfway through my burger I gave up and split the offering into an open-faced bratwurst, and an open-faced burger. ½ burger + ½ brat = 1/1 bummer**. BGR should receive a lot of credit for the continued quality of their ingredients and willingness to experiment with Franken-burgers, but at some point they need to cast the meats in their appropriate roles; striking a harmonious Simon & Garfunkel-like balance rather than ego driven animosity of the Eagles (post-“Hotel California”).
*I don’t know if I hate myself more for the “too much meat” comment or making a “Hills” reference. Self loathing is at an all-time high.
– Matt (@yaysaps)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Creativity: 7; Overall: 5
Wet Lucette – Burger Tap & Shake
The Juicy Lucy is regional creation born in Minnesota featuring a patty with a melted-cheese-stuffed center. Think mozzarella sticks but instead of fried shit, the cheese is encased in meat. Yeaaah, I know!
Sadly, during our burger romps, we have yet to find a joint* in D.C. that carries this remarkable item on its menu. But then BTS announced a Frenched-up, fancy-ass version filled with brie called the Wet Lucette and –BOOM– BOTM excitement reached a fever pitch. I was far more giddier to throw the Wet Lucette down the ol’ food tube than I have been for any other BOTM this year.
But it didn’t last long.
Maybe I went in with over-inflated expectations, but I was anticipating a pocket full of hot, gooey, liquefied brie bursting through a beefy barricade of meat and invading my face with gusto. I’d wallow in a state of euphoria amid a fantastic mass of grease, cheese and meat, getting fatter and fatter with each bite. It was supposed to be incredible.
Instead, I was left chewing on a seemingly regular old, ordinary burger.
After my first few bites and no river of heavenly goodness flowing, I figured I just had yet to reach the core. But as more and more of the beef slowly made its way from the plate to my belly, my hopes of a cheese bath were dashed. Rather than actually stuff the meat with cheese, BTS employed a mix-the-meat-with-cheese method. Unfortunately, not only is this not true Juicy Lucy style, but it also made the brie virtually impossible to taste over the burger toppings. The shallots and tasty cornichon relish were overwhelmingly front-and-center on the flavor stage, with the acidic and vinegar-y relish under the spotlight from beginning to end. It wasn’t a bad performance, it just wasn’t the show I was hoping for.
While Juicy Lucy and Wet Lucette might pass for twins in a pack of Garbage Pail Kids, they’re more like Julius and Vincent when it comes to burgers.
*brgr:shack added a Juicy Lucy to their regular menu shortly before closing down (RIP).
– Jody (@burgerdays)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Creativity: 7; Overall: 7
2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW | DC | burgertapandshake.com
Nacho Burger – Bobby’s Burger Palace
I think part of the problem is I expect Bobby Flay, (a pretty solid chef of Southwestern cuisine,) to have a hand in making these monthly burgers. The man’s not a hack, he can cook, and can put flavors together, and so I have to assume whenever the Burger Palace turns out something mediocre in his wheelhouse, it’s out of his hands.
Every element of the burger is just fine. The tomato-chipotle salsa is fresh, only a little bit spicy and cold on top of the burger– it’s quite good. The nacho cheese sauce is melty and oozes over the burger, a really good, seemingly real cheese sauce. The pickled jalapenos are standard fare for nachos (and always welcome.) The blue corn tortilla chips are neither bad nor good, adding a decent crunch instead of the potato chips- but I’ve never found chips on a burger all that necessary. The blue corn would be sweet if the chips weren’t overly salted, like every other part of the burger. Even the patty was well-seasoned and even better cooked.
But when everything was stacked together, the burger flavor just drops right out. Between the salt in the cheese and on the tortillas and the acid from the salsa and jalapenos, there’s no real meatiness to it all together. Also, instead of a corn tortilla, they’ve gone with their own, usual sesame seed bun. It’s not a bad burger bun, but it doesn’t fit the motif or the flavor profile.
If you want nachos, go get nachos. If you want a nacho burger, look elsewhere. This isn’t bad, but it’s not amazing either. Perhaps if it weren’t a mess spilling out everywhere, things would be different. That said, I am pretty happy there’s a Bobby’s Burger Palace in Bethesda. Wouldn’t kill them to add a bit of lime in there, too. But anyhow..
– Jeb (@jebgavin)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Creativity: 4.5; Overall: 6
Jalapeno-Cheddar Burger – Dogwood Tavern
This month’s BOTMs featured two burger patties that were mixed with cheese. While this review is focused on Dogwood, I also tacked BTS’s this month so I naturally have some observations on the stuffed/mixed burgers concept. It’s my duty as a burger connoisseur.
First of all, a mixture of meat and cheese is not a “stuffed” burger. This faux pas is almost as bad as calling mini burgers “sliders” — at least Dogwood’s was labelled appropriately. In Dogwood’s case, jalapeño was added to the patty and BTS threw in some brie. The burgers both tasted good, but the cheddar and jalapeños in Dogwood’s were very unevenly distributed. This brings me to my second issue.
Why mess with a burger patty? The allure of stuffing or mixing a burger with cheese and other ingredients is tempting but ends up subtracting from the overall experience. Balance is needed between meat and ingredients in a burger and the stuffed/mixed patty allows for greater creativity but introduces issues into a tried-and-true formula. The burger patty at Dogwood was thin and cooked on the well side despite being ordered medium. The thin patty with inclusion of cheese can disrupt the practice of cooking a burger to order and, in my case, most likely led to the less than perfect patty.
The burger as a whole was good. The bitterness of the arugula, the sweetness of the tomato and the tanginess of the avocado ranch were a good combination but needed the jalapeno and cheddar of the patty to bring out the flavor balance. However, the mixed patty made it difficult to get the whole spectrum of flavors in a single bite– my third and final gripe with stuffed/mixed burgers.
There is a delicate balance between being original and pulling off a complete burger, from bun to meat to toppings. It seems like a recurring trend in BOTMs but once again, a great concept was tainted by less-than-great execution.
– Adam (@addc)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Creativity: 8; Overall: 8
132 West Broad Street | Falls Church | dogwoodtavern.com
October BOTM Rankings:
1) Dogwood Tavern – Jalapeño-Cheddar Burger (8)
2) Burger Tap & Shake – Wet Lucette (7)
3) BGR The Burger Joint – Oktoberfest (6)
4) Bobby’s Burger Palace – Nacho Burger (5.25)