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Dear Abbey

                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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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. jon wright
    March 2, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Hey adam if you’re ever in Bham be sure to try Flip Burger Boutique… You can make any burger you could possibly think of! It’s new at the Summit.

  2. Bama Burgermeister
    March 2, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    I’m sorry, there’s just something un-American and/or metrosexual about “herb yogurt” on a burger. I think Mommay had it right.

  3. March 2, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I have to disagree with the burgers at Flip Burger. When I pay that much for a burger, I expect it to be A. the best burger I’ve ever had; B. the biggest burger I’ve ever had; or C. a combination of the two. The burgers are fairly small. Probably in between 1/4 and 1/3 precook weight. Also when I get a burger, I expect it to come with a side. At Flip Burger, sides are extra. However, Flip Burger does have one the most delicious things I’ve ever put in my mouth. A Krispy Kreme milkshake. It’s amazing. But I can’t be thrilled about their burgers. I’d rather have a Mugshot’s burger any day.

  4. March 4, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I REALLY want that gunpowder bison burger.

    Flip Burger started in Atl, far as I know, and it’s pretty fantastic. “Navigator” is right, they are pricey but then again are incredibly gourmet. I had a burger tartar that was to die for.. plus another w/ hangar steak, brisket, short rib, and corned beef burger buttered cabbage, beer mustard, and a fried egg.. check e’m out. http://twitpic.com/196ss

    I recommend getting 3 between 2 people.. 2 full, rich burgers put me a bit over my limit, though I ate every bite.

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