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The Five Guys Experience

March 28, 2010 1 comment

 

This weekend, I scratched and itch.   We all know that the desire to consume a burger can be very potent at times.  However, deep within that meatish yearning for a burger lies one of the most insatiable of desires, the want of the “grease burger.”   The recent standard for “grease burger” can be found within the franchise paradise that is Five Guys Burgers and Fries.  Five Guys is popping up like Starbucks circa 2002, minus the whiny baristas. 

                Off Mountaineer Matt and I went this Saturday, to Five Guys, in search of greasy burgers.  Like the remaining four teams, we would not be denied. 

                Mountaineer Matt was a good accomplice because he was able to show this old dog some new tricks.  He pointed out that one of the reasons why Five Guys bested its rivals stems from the customers ability to “rip open” the bag as a means of getting to the fries quicker and safer (those fries are hot out of the oil).  Basically, you pull the bottom flaps of the bag and open the bag up like a blossomed flower of grease.

               

                I’ll briefly address my thoughts on Five Guys before getting into the review.  Over the past few years, Five Guys has established itself as the benchmark for a quality, fast food burger.  They’re beef isn’t fancy or special, but it appears to be plain and simple quality chuck.  The real key is that the beef is allegedly never frozen, and I honestly think that you can taste the freshness.   In my opinion, Five Guys has cemented its status as a big dog when it comes to East Coast burgeries. 

                Learning from my lessons of the past, I kept my burger relatively simple.  I ordered the regular (which is a double) bacon cheese burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mustard & catsup. 

This burger was awesome.  The meat was cooked medium well but remained internally juicy.  That quality is the true difference maker for Five Guys.  I don’t need to say much about this burger, it was the quintessential Five Guys delight! 

                Mountaineer Matt decided to forgo the Wildcat until dinner time, so he settled on the Regular (read double) cheese burger with grilled onions, lettuce, catsup and mayo. 

Mountaineer Matt described his burger as “very messy and very good.”  Beyond the obligatory burger praises, he rejoiced in their fountain Sprite, ceasing the crystal liquid’s praise only to lament about the shortage of fries.  Even though we got a good bit of fries, we could have had more.  And no, it does matter that we didn’t even eat all the fries. 

                All in all, we loved the Five Guys experience.  The burgers were juicy and the fries were as crispy and fresh as you’d expect.  Essentially, Five Guys is a place where anyone can exchange currency for a really good (not quite great) burger.  When you are  in the mood for a damn good burger and you do not want any pretenses, go to the most consistent place around, Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Outback!!

March 20, 2010 Leave a comment

 

This week we decided to venture to the upper echelon of chain restaurants, Outback Steakhouse, for a steak-burger.  The purpose of this trip to Outback was celebratory, as we had made plans with another couple, Red Robyn & Mountaineer Matt, to celebrate Burger-at-Law’s new job with a blooming onion.  I was excited about getting a burger at Outback simply because I had never had one.  To be honest, I can’t think of a time when I got anything beyond the Outback Special.  As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of consistency.

So we got to Outback and quickly ordered up a few big bloke drafts (22 oz. mugs full of icy cold beer) and the world’s best fried object, the blooming onion.  Simply stated, the blooming onion is golden, deep fried manna from heaven.  If I hadn’t married the Belle, I would have married a blooming onion. 

                To my surprise, Outback had a pretty decent selection of burgers, which included a blooming onion topped burger and your standard bacon cheeseburger.  However, I opted for their variation of the french dip.  I ordered a filet mignon sandwich on foccacia bread with a little aioli sauce on top.  This sandwich was incredible.  The filet was typical of Outback: rare, buttery, and juicy meat.  The real kick was dipping this sandwich in the au jus sauce.  Notwithstanding a fine single malt, au jus sauce may be the best liquid around. 

                Overall the entire Outback experience was quite good.  The only problem was that our waiter was “noticeably stoned” and kept forgetting stuff.  I definitely think that this burger/steak sandwich is worth ordering next time you are at Outback.  My only concern with this meal was that I was left with a bunch of au jus sauce because I gobbled up the filet so quickly.  I guess I’m going to spend the rest of my weekend trying to find things to dip into the au jus I brought home.   Happy eating everyone!

Categories: Uncategorized

Crazy Sandwich Saturday…

March 13, 2010 5 comments

Due to some weekend plans and an increased work schedule, I won’t be able to eat a burger this weekend.  However, that means I’ll just share with you some of my favorite sandwiches that don’t come from Attman’s (my favorite sandwich mecca).  For lunch, I took last night’s dinner (homemade chicken parmesan and spaghetti with my veggie marinara sauce) and made a sandwich out of it.  Check out the pic. 

I really liked this sandwich.  My sauce is a favorite of the Belle’s (nice and zesty) and plays a good contrast to the savory chicken parm.  Plus, you can NEVER go wrong putting fresh mozzarella on anything.   I would have had more parmesan reggiano to top this treat, but Coach ate about three dollars worth of fresh, Italian cheese last night.  Got to admit, the dog’s got good taste. 

The following video sums up how I feel right now.  On a side note, I actually met Steve Martin on the set of the “Pink Panther” when I was in Paris several years ago.  He was actually really nice and gracious.  We got a cool pic with him in costume. 

I’ll update tomorrow with a pic of my dinner so be sure to check back.  Maybe I’ll even be able to snag a slider or something.

Categories: Uncategorized

Le Big Mac

March 8, 2010 3 comments

 

                This week, Burger-at-Law and Bama Belle ventured to the Golden Arches to try one of the “gray ladies” of America’s hamburger history, the Big Mac.  After reviewing several stellar burgers, I felt it was time to try something else.  The light wallet factored into that decision as well.  As the week progressed, I told several people I’d probably review the Big Mac this week; however, every single person I told was surprised and not really thrilled about it.  I did the Big Mac for numerous reasons: I said in the Prelogue that I’d review it, the Big Mac is an international icon in the hamburger world (as the Jules and Vincent clip from Pulp Fiction shows), it is the classic American burger, and I needed a “benchmark” for a bad burger for this journey. 

                Okay, so the Belle and I ventured to the closest McDonald’ (America will still be a great place as long as McDonald’s continues to outnumber Starbucks).  This wasn’t your grandma’s Golden Arches, this place was crazy.  This McDonald’s had regular tables, booths, a “lounge,” and bistro stools.  However, this McDonald’s had a distinctive feature that is common in many McDonald’s, in fact; it took me back to my earliest McDonald’s memory.  I remember in the glorious Alex Keaton 1980s going to the McDonald’s on the boardwalk of Virginia Beach and the floor being covered in what appeared to be a mixture of water, mud, dirt, sand, and fecal paste.  It was disgusting.  In true McDonald’s form, this McDonald’s had a huge a puddle of water covering about 1/8 of the floor.  Those yellow “don’t slip signs” are about as McDonaldish as the Golden Arches.  If McDonald’s is anything, it is consistent. 

                Anyways, so I waded across the puddle and ordered a Big Mac, Coke, and fries, also known as a Number 2.  I got my number two super sized.  Meanwhile, the Belle only wanted a beverage, so get this, she ordered a McCafe latte (vanilla, sugarfree nonfat latte with extra estrogen).  Like one would expect, we didn’t have to wait very long to get our food.

                Truth be told, I’ve never been much of a Big Mac Guy.  I’ve always opted for the quarter pounder with cheese; however, I was pretty excited about it.   According to Wikipedia, “the Big Mac is the hamburger consisting of two 1.6 oz (45.4 g) beef patties, special ‘Mac’ sauce (a Thousand Island dressing variant[1]), iceberg lettuce, American cheese, pickles, and onions, all served on a three part sesame seed bun.”  I’m not going to go much into detail about this burger because frankly, it doesn’t warrant much time.  Everyone knows that the McDonald’s hamburger “meat” gives much to be desired.  All I got from the sauce was wetness and color because it was flavorless. 

This is supposed to be meat....yuck.

Further, the lettuce was tasteless, and I told the Belle that the minced onions, a McDonald’s staple, were “nauseating, yet kind of good.”  I think that description as a whole fits McDonald’s in general.  Overall, the “burger” was decent.  It was probably a little better than expected (I didn’t expect much). 

                There are two things that McDonald’s does perfectly: french fries and Coca-Cola Classic.  I’m not going to say much about those because they were flat out perfect.  That’s all you need to know, and if you didn’t already know that, then you’re probably a terrorist. 

                In summing it up, my trip to McDonald’s was typical: dirty floor, cheap food, junky burger, great fries, and even better Coke.  However, this meal did some major gastrointestinal damage.  I had some serious pain in the tubes leading into my stomach that lasted until the next morning.  In fact, I couldn’t even eat dinner until 10:00 pm and all I had was egg drop soup and a spring roll.   Even though McDonald’s burgers are subpar, I’ll continue to eat there every few months.  I don’t know why, I think it is some part of our American DNA.  Anyways, if you’re gonna head to the Golden Arches, I recommend just getting the fries and coke, those don’t disappoint.

Categories: Uncategorized

Dear Abbey

March 1, 2010 4 comments

                I think I’m on a roll because this is only my second review and I’ve found myself eating another stellar burger.  This week I ventured a little further into the urban jungle that is Baltimore by checking out The Abbey Burger Bistro in Federal Hill.  This bird flew solo to Alonso’s, but this time Burger-at-Law brought along the family.  The Bama Belle and my parents, Mommay and Po, came along for the sampling. 

                Since the inception of this blog, I knew that The Abbey Burger Bistro  (1041 Marshal Street…in an alley next to Cross Street Market) would be a restaurant I would review.  I’d heard of the Bistro for about a year, and I was especially excited about trying their foie gras burger, however, that dish is no longer on the menu (check out the menu here: http://www.abbeyburgerbistro.com/pdfs/Main_Menu_200910.pdf).  So like most people obsessed with food, I pour over an online menu all week before I visit a restaurant, changing my mind twenty million times along the way.  This time my anticipatory palate was divided three ways.  I couldn’t decide between the Baltimore burger, the Lamburger, and Harry’s Bistro Burger.   Guess which one I settled on?  Neither of them. 

                Okay, I got a little ahead of myself there.  Let me tell you about the restaurant before I tell you about the burger.  The Bistro really is a fairly unique and interesting spot.  I knew I was walking into a quality establishment when I immediately noticed that it didn’t reek of bar funk.  Since Federal Hill is where many of Charm City’s youngsters go for a night of debauchery, a lot of the bars that open for lunch end up smelling like a combination of liver cirrhosis and freshman year of college.  Anyways, this place smelled clean.  Did I mention it was packed?  Yeah, it was pretty darn crowded too, so we had to wait a little bit to get a table.  However, that only can mean one thing: the place is good. 

                So Bama Belle, Mommay, Po, and I sat down at the table and a waiter brought us our menus.  When I opened the familiar menu (from the website), a slip of paper fell out.  This magical slip of paper reads at the top, “The Abbey Burger Bistro build-a-burger checklist.”  Are you kidding me?!?!  You mean, this fine purveyor of meat sandwiches gives us free reign of the kitchen?  Yes, yes they do.  This “checklist” or “gateway to nirvana” had ten “meat” options, five temperatures, six different “toasted bread” options, nine different cheeses, thirteen different toppings, and eighteen things listed as “free stuff,” four sides, and…well that’s enough. 

The meats included but are not limited to bison, wild boar, lamb, black angus, and a veggie burger.   It was hard to choose my starch as an English muffin, a classic bun, thick toast, pita, and a pretzel roll were listed.  I didn’t include the lettuce wrap option on the starch list because anyone who orders a lettuce wrap instead of bread for their burger is either a vegan or a virgin and we don’t have any use for them at this blog.   The cheeses ranged from fancy pants to nacho cheese and the toppings included anything you could think of putting on a burger that a restaurant could honestly charge 75 cents extra for and not put it on the free stuff list. 

The family ended up all opting for the checklist.  However, we ordered drinks first.  The Bistro has an incredibly impressive and eclectic beer selection.  My dad opted for the Ommegang Abbey Ale, which was a really dark Belgian beer.  Conversely, I ordered Mama’s Little Yellow Pilsner, and the women solicited the barkeep for mimosas.  When the drinks arrived, the contrast in our beers was stark.  My beer was as beautiful as spun gold and Po’s looked like black coffee.  He took a sip and quickly stated, “ugh, too much going on.”  He put my pilsner to the hole under his moustache and realized I made the correct choice.  However, the waitress was kind enough to return the Ommegang and replace it with the pilsner.  I recommend the pilsner because it was very refreshing and served as a blank canvas to my burger.  In fact, I liked it so much that I had two!

Great beer!

After I gulped down my first few sips of liquid gold, I began to take in the restaurant.  It really had a lot going for it and the Bistro truly had an authentic  British feel to it.  This ambience came from several elements.  First of all, Federal Hill dates back to the 1700s and the alley it is located in stands atop a cobblestone street.  The unique draught brews would appease any snooty Anglophile and the bartenders all wore British soccer jerseys.  In fact, the Bistro serves as a home for Arsenal fans, which was evident by all the stomping going on in the upstairs bar.  I ventured upstairs to check it out and the crowd looked as if they were watching a Bama game.  On a side note, I like soccer hooligans.  Soccer hooligans are passionate about their kickball teams and I respect that. 

Anyways, you’re all here to read about burgers not hear me talk about soccer fans.  I’ve decided that it would be user friendly of me to post a picture of each family member’s dish below a description of what they ordered.  Being the narcissist that I am, I’ll start with myself:

I ordered local gunpowder bison cooked medium on a classic bun.  The classic buns are wonderful and have a nice shine to them.  I topped the bison burger with Lincolnshire cheddar cheese, onion rings, bacon, a fried egg, herb yogurt, tomatoes, raw onions, and pickle slices.  I had sweet potato fries on the side.  I also ordered elastic pants. 

Bama Belle, being the lady she is, had a veggie Burger on a pretzel roll.  She topped it with pleasant ridge cheese, which is kinda like swiss.  On top of that she had an avocado, whole grain mustard (she’d eat Ebola if it said whole grain Ebola), herb yogurt, cucumber, bib lettuce, tomatoes and pickle slices.  She had regular fries. 

 

Po had a lamb burger cooked medium rare on pita, topped with the please ridge cheese, onion rings, ketchup, french’s mustard, normal mayo, tomatoes, and relish.  He too wisely chose the sweet tater fries. 

Mommay had the black angus burger (Roseda farms like Alansoso’s…beginning to really love that stuff) cooked medium well with American cheese.  She kept it simple with the toppings, which consisted of mayo, bib lettuce, raw onions, and pickle slices.  She got the onion rings. 

 

Because there was sooooo much food and so little time, I’m going to run quickly through these treats.  First of all, everything was first rate, but there were some clear leaders on the table.  Mommay, who knows a good burger from her summer days in Georgia, ordered the best burger.  She kept it simple as I stated above.   I’ll go ahead and quote the lovely lady, “Classic…that’s the way a burger should taste.”  She was right; it was incredibly juicy and just flat out awesome.  I tried it, and by “trying it” I mean I ate half of it.  Those onion rings she ordered…fuggedaboutit.    Those onion rings were lightly fried tempura style and the end result was some of the best darn onion rings.  Go there for onion rings and you’ll be as happy as a pig in poo!

On to my padre.  Po had the lamburger, which I seriously thought about ordering.  That thing was really good too.  It tasted exactly how you would hope, like a Grecian treat.  His description could have been quite the Michael Scott joke because he said that the lamb was “anything but dry.”    I think it could even satisfy a gyro craving.  Anyways, this is something I’d definitely order.  Kudos to Po for ordering it up and picking up the tab to boot!  Oh yeah, Po ate ever single item on his plate rather quickly.  He was full even when he drove back home to the Old Dominion the following night. 

The Bama Belle wants all veggie eaters to know the truth about her veggie burger.  She honestly believes that it too is one of the best she’d had.  She sweetly described the burger as “smoky, spicy deliciousness.”  Sounds yummy!  Since I’ve been with the Belle for quite a few years, I’ve grown accustomed to the satisfying taste of soy patties and compressed vegetable hockey pucks.  Like any other food, some are good and some are bad.  However, this one was really good.  It had a little kick and a great consistency.  I think this little creature was made in house. 

My personality showed through in my checklist order.  Sometimes I get a tad bit overambitious and bite off more than I can chew.  I did that, literally, in my burger order.  The overall theme of my burger was “big” (cue the Michael Scott joke again).  I started out with the bison.  Bison has a big, bold taste.  I described it at the time as “beefy beef.”  However, I really ordered too much to go along with it.  Even though it tasted incredible, it was too much to handle.  I had to attack some of it with a fork and knife to get it started.  However, that didn’t stop me from eating the entire thing and remaining full through that evening’s dinner at Mr. Rain’s Fun House. 

Before I give my final thoughts on The Abbey Burger Bistro, I’m going to give my readers some advice: keep it relatively simple.  While my over-the-top monstrosity was awesome, my mom’s classic burger was best.  Also, substitute herb yogurt for ketchup and mustard.  It is a wonderful change from the ordinary and serves as a great replacement for both condiments.  I can’t see myself going there without ordering my burger with herb yogurt.  Basically, it is like tzatzikisauce.  Also, if going with more than one person, someone order the sweet potato fries because those suckers may be better than the onion rings.  They look like orange, nuclear rods and pack an equally intense molecular flavor.  Further, sweet potatoes are full of fiber, so they help keep such a heavy burger moving along on schedule. 

In conclusion, The Abbey Burger Bistro is where you need to go to satisfy a burger craving.  For the Bistro, the burger is a point of pride.  Many say that pride comes before the fall, but I don’t see that old saying applying to the Bistro.  If I could command you all to go out and try the Bistro I would but I can’t, all I can do is suggest that ya’ll go give it a whirl.  That being said, I wholeheartedly recommend The Abbey Burger Bistro.

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