Turkey Sandwiches, Boring Beef & Won-Ton Topped Duck [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.
All new this month, 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 November’s BOTMs:
Thanksgiving on a Bun – BGR The Burger Joint
IT’S NOT A BURGER IT’S NOT A BURGER IT’S NOT A BURGER IT’S NOT A BURGER. I want to pound this on the keyboard over and over again, preferably on an old school typewriter, until I’ve filled a ream of paper like I was banging out “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.” Like many of the other pet semantic arguments we have on this website, perhaps the one I hold dearest to my slowly schlerotifying cardiac arteries is the issue of whether or not it’s a burger if it’s not made of beef. I sit firmly in the camp of hell no, beef or bust, and I make very few exceptions, if any. Sure a pork patty can be damn tasty, and various game meats have their appeals (up to and including duck.) Even ground chicken, preformed and saturated with nitrates sits Madeleine-like in the recesses of my memory, dredging up a time when I would frolic with my Uncle Junior’s junkyard guard dogs.
Should you feel the need to interject here, to defend turkey, let me cut you off- no. Turkey as a ground meat product is indefensible. Wild turkeys are tasty, wily birds, worth the effort to eat. Farm raised turkeys have as much flavor as sense, and they don’t have sense enough not to drown looking up at the sky to figure out what’s hitting them in the head when it rains. Given an ideal grind redistributing fat and flavor, turkey is drier than nearly any other meat, and still requires more salt than anyone should consume to make it worth rubbing against your taste buds. At least veggie burgers are proud in their defiance of convention. Turkey burgers are the Vichy France of ground meat patties.
Now that I’ve thoroughly thrashed the concept, let me say, as a sandwich, I was OK with BGR’s Thanksgiving leftover bomb. Moist, almost creamy stuffing, good gravy, (“thanks, it’s just brown and water,”) even a passable cranberry sauce (could’ve been a little more tart.) It had their regular hamburger bun but whatever, it’s not like they’re going to have challah sitting around just for this one sandwich. It’s fine, in spite of the lead weight that is an inch and a half thick patty of ground turkey. Well cooked, not nearly as dry as it could’ve been (I got lucky) but nowhere near as good as a homemade leftover sandwich, and again, NOT A BURGER.
As an afterthought I tried their butter pecan shake. It has this odd, almost chemical butter flavor to it, but it’s OK. The nuts need to be crushed more so as to pass through the straw, or they need bigger straws. I’d’ve been satisfied with a solid vanilla milkshake topped with some wet pecans. Oh well.
– Jeb (@jebgavin)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Creativity: 2; Overall: N/A
I love the Thanksgiving traditions; be it the gluttonous over-consumption, the inevitable drumming of my beloved Lions, or the annual argument between my brother and I over the correct way to construct gravy. But of all the wonderful traditions, my absolute favorite is the re-purposing of the leftovers. Sure, you could just make up a plate and toss it in the microwave, but where’s the adventure in that? Where’s the holiday creativity? Leftover mashed potatoes? Add an egg and some panko, mash em on a skillet and you’ve got some killer potato pancakes. Why settle for a boring turkey and mayo sandwich? Butter up some sourdough and make a grilled turkey and swiss, then cover it with gravy (eat with a knife and fork). The Friday after Thanksgiving is like your own private cooking competition, where your ingredients aren’t just found in the fridge, but in your memories as well.
So when you’re talking about grinding up turkey and stuffing into a burger patty and topping it with fried potatoes, this month’s Dogwood offering should fall right into my wheelhouse! Well, it didn’t.
That’s not to say the burger was bad, or offensive, or boring. There were a lot of good things going on with the Leftover Burger. The cranberry mustard was really interesting and a perfect fit (this is now the second month in a row where I’ve complimented mustard….the flavor is slowly growing on me… Slowly.) and arugula is always favored over boring iceberg. The fried potatoes however, really didn’t bring much to the table and kind of turned into a mush part way through. Why not use mashed potatoes? Or even sweet potatoes, to really give it that holiday kick? Pointless potatoes are forgivable– the real issue with the burger was that they did too good of a job re-purposing the holiday ingredients, rendering the final product unrecognizable from its festive origins. The patty, while containing the basic Thanksgiving DNA, tasted more like a spiced turkey sausage than leftover dinner and I could barely taste the stuffing component. The overall flavor was solid and had it been named the “Leftover Dog” instead of “Leftover Burger,” I’d be a lot more enthusiastic. In the end, the burger failed to deliver on its promise of nostalgia and the only aspect it shared with my Thanksgiving traditions was that the Lions still managed to lose.
– Matt (@yaysaps)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Creativity: 6; Overall: 3
132 West Broad Street | Falls Church | dogwoodtavern.com
Suzie Wong – Burger Tap & Shake
Unlike some of my burger-eating colleagues, I am able to get past the canon of strictly beef burgers. Sure, if you look up hamburger in the dictionary, it’s defined as ground beef but occasionally you have to be willing to suspend disbelief. Imagine if Rambo ran out of ammunition– that movie would have ended after 15 minutes. I think the same goes for burgers. With the amount we put into our guts each year sometimes you have to branch out. The November BOTM for Burger Tap & Shake is one of those situations where you tell yourself, “Ok, this isn’t real, but it’s damn good.”
At this point, I sound like a broken record but execution with BOTMs is a consistent theme. Despite a bonus ingredient with BTS’s BOTM, a crispy wonton not mentioned in the description, the “Suzie Wong” was very good but missed the mark as a whole.
The duck “burger” itself had a delicate taste, unlike 2941’s duck and foie gras bomb, and the overall burger was mild. I wasn’t expecting this, as the description mentioned a spicy Cranberry-pomegranate-plum sauce which was almost undetectable. The cucumber and scallions dominated the taste, which isn’t a bad thing, as they complimented the mildness of the burger quite well. The crispy wonton added a crunchy texture that helped balance out the soft duck and in-between cucumbers. Another solid BOTM from BTS but another slightly off performance. This trend makes me wonder if the limited timeline for BOTMs means that poor execution is more of the norm.
– Adam (@addc)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Creativity: 8; Overall: 8
2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW | DC | burgertapandshake.com
Pacific Northwest Burger – Bobby’s Burger Palace
That sums up everything about this month’s burger from Bobby’s Burger Palace.
First up, the name is boring. Pacific Northwest Burger? That’s near coma-inducing right there. We get it, Flay. You love showing off your vast knowledge of regional flavors (except for D.C.) with your burgers, naming each one after the area that inspired its makeup. But shit man, liven up your damn burger names. Now, I’m not advocating going the Guy Fieri route and calling it the Burgtastic Pac-West Beefwich but, come on, “Pacific Northwest Burger” just sucks.
Second, the toppings are boring. White American cheese? Yawn. Red wine BBQ sauce? Blah, blah, blah. Mushrooms? Snoozefest. Not one thing on this burger made me the least bit excited about depositing it into my face hole.
But the worst offense of this whole BOTM is that the taste is boring. Not bad. Not flavorless. Just boring.
The cheese was, as per BBP’s regular excellent execution, perfectly melted and all encompassing of the beef but American cheese ain’t lighting up nobody’s tastebuds. The mushrooms were fine– they did their whole fungi thing, exactly what we expect mushrooms to do but again, no frills. And the one ingredient I expected to come through and punch up the taste — the BBQ sauce– was virtually undetectable, despite being slathered all over the place. The lone, lingering flavor from the whole mix was the beef. Tasty, well-seasoned beef, but just beef all the same. That’s not a bad thing, not at all, but hell, if I wanted a regular cheeseburger, I’d order a goddamn cheeseburger.
I even deviated from Burger Days protocol and made a “special” order and went for “crunchification” (BTW, an officially sanctioned Flay addition to his burgers), but even a handful of potato chips couldn’t save this mundane mound of meat.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a champion of the sandwich in its purest form. Bun. Cheese. Beef. That’s all I need to enjoy a burger. My favorite burgers of all-time are simple creations. But when it comes to BOTMs, nobody should expect that. And burger joints certainly shouldn’t serve that.
– Jody (@burgerdays)
BOTM Rating (out of 10):
Creativity: 1; Overall: 4
November BOTM Rankings:
1) Burger Tap & Shake – Suzie Wong (8)
2) Dogwood Tavern – Leftover Burger (4.5)
3) Bobby’s Burger Palace – Pacific Northwest (2.5)
4) BGR The Burger Joint – Thanksgiving on a Bun (1)