Archive for the 'Burgers' Category

Taylor’s Automatic Refresher


July 8, 2007
Cuisine: Burgers, Sandwiches

1 Ferry Building
San Francisco 94111

Phone: 866-328-3663


Garlic Fries Tossed in garlic butter & parsley ($2.99)


Fried Calamari With aioli & lemon ($6.49)


Onion Rings Thick, beer batter style ($3.99)


Chicken Fingers (2) served with honey mustard fries ($4.99)


Western Bacon Blue Ring – a burger topped with an onion ring, crumbled blue cheese, bacon, pickles, red onion & BBQ sauce on a toasted egg bun ($8.99)


Ahi Burger – Fresh Ahi tuna seared rare with ginger wasabi mayo & Asian slaw on a toasted egg bun ($13.99)


Blue Cheese Burger – topped with a pile of crumbled blue, lettuce, tomato, pickles & secret sauce on a toasted egg bun ($7.25)   

A trip to The Bay just wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Ferry Building. The Astronomer and I had a ball there last spring pursuing the shops and sampling a plethora of gourmet goodness. Even though my aunt and uncle reside only a short drive from the Ferry Building, this was their first trip to the gastronomic Mecca. Since we were in the neighborhood, we picked up Cousin Timmy at SFSU to join us for lunch.

During my previous visit to the Ferry Building, The Astronomer and I constructed a multi-course lunch from a number of different vendors. This time, the majority of my family was in the mood for Taylor’s Automatic Refresher, so I figured it would be best to join them rather than venturing on my own. You know how it is in big groups…

I ordered the Ahi Burger, which was the priciest item on the menu. The seared tuna’s flesh was pleasantly pink and a refreshing alternative to a standard beef patty. I’ve consumed a lot of seared tuna in my days, but never in between two pieces of bread so I was pleasantly surprised by how well the combination worked. The slaw was crisp and dressed in a soy vinaigrette, while the ginger and wasabi mayonnaise was relatively mild. All of Taylor’s burgers are served on a toasted egg bun, which was terrific. Overall a solid burger, but perhaps priced a bit too high.

Uncle Brian enjoyed his Western Bacon Blue Ring enormously. The one bite I had was really great—the onion ring and BBQ sauce hit all the right flavors and textures. The burger reminded me of the ones served up at Carl’s Junior, but much more satisfying and dramatically less messy. Cousin Timmy ordered the Blue Cheese Burger, which he liked, but I didn’t get the impression that it blew him away. Cousins Megan and Madison both ate Chicken Fingers (surprise, surprise). The honey mustard sauce that accompanied the fingers was sweet, tangy, and so downright delectable that I had to dip everything in sight.

The table shared an order of garlic fries, calamari, and onion rings, which were all very good. My favorite was the onion rings, which were spectacular with ketchup. My uncle didn’t care much for the onion rings because the batter wasn’t crunchy enough for his tastes. Rather than serving neat little rings of calamari like most restaurants do, Taylor’s served up squid heads! The calamari was well-seasoned and softer than I expected. I’m not too big on fries, but the garlic fries held their own.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am definitely a fan of high-end renditions of classic American junk food.


Good Dog Bar


June 17, 2007
Cuisine: American (traditional), Burgers

224 S 15th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Phone: 215-985-9600


Good Dog Burger – half pound house ground sirloin, stuffed with Roquefort, topped with caramelized onions and served on toasted brioche ($10) 

Ever since Craig LaBan released his article about the best burgers in Philadelphia, I’ve been jonesing to try his top pick—Good Dog Burger. What can I say? I am a sucker for lists. LaBan writes:

The burger that inspired the song “Cheeseburger, I Hold,” Good Dog’s signature sandwich triumphs where so many before have tried and failed – stuffing a burger with blue cheese. The meat itself is deliciously seasoned, perfectly cooked, and wisely topped only with a mop of sautéed onions. But bite into the heart, and behold. A river of molten bleu. A powerhouse of tangy savor. Too rich to be an everyday burger. But can you hear the music playing? Order it no more than medium-rare, or risk losing the cheese.

For my final dinner in the city with two of my favorite girlfriends, Tara and Melina, we headed to Good Dog Bar to try the famed burger. Curious to see if the hype was warranted, we each ordered one; Tara requested hers prepared medium rare, while Melina and I had ours cooked medium. Our burgers were served with a mountain of shoestring sweet potato fries and a side of flavored aioli.

The Good Dog Burger is a damn fine creation and maybe even a little genius. Okay, a lot genius! The meat was well-seasoned, just like LaBan promised, especially around the lightly charred edge of the meat. Tara appreciated this little touch. The Roquefort oozing out of the center of the patty was deeply flavorful, but not too overwhelming. By the way, my perfectly cooked medium patty still retained a good amount of cheese. The caramelized onions and brioche added a tinge of sweetness to the entire burger, which enhanced the Roquefort’s taste. Tara, Melina, and I unanimously agreed that the Good Dog Burger rocked! The sweet potato fries with the aioli were plentiful and fine accompaniment for the burger.


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Shake Shack

May 28, 2007
Cuisine: Burgers, Hot Dogs

Madison Square Park, New York 10010
At 23rd St & Madison Ave

Phone: 212-889-6600

Single Cheeseburger ($4)

French Fries ($2.50)

Hopscotch Concrete – Hot Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Toffee and Valrhona Chocolate Chunks ($6.25)

While interning at YM Magazine during the summer of 2002, I lunched everyday on the benches in Madison Square Park. Since I was paid in nail polish and future recommendations, I usually packed an uneventful PB&J sandwich or bought a hot dog from the vendor located on the park’s edge. Returning to the park five years later, I barely recognized the place.

Ever since Shake Shack sprouted up during the summer of 2004, Madison Square Park has become quite the dining destination. Long gone are the days of urban serenity and in its place are winding lines of hungry diners seeking quality fastfood—the hamburgers, fries, hot dogs, and custard served up at Shake Shack are only made using high-quality ingredients and no trans fats.

After waiting 45 minutes in line to place our order and an additional 10 minutes for our food to be made, we finally sat down to eat. People often complain about the lengthy line at Shake Shack, but the lively ambiance in the park more than makes up for it. My advice is to not arrive too hungry.

I was in the mood for something cool and sweet after the Luger Burger and ordered a Hopscotch Concrete made with Hot Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Toffee and Valrhona Chocolate Chunk. I had never heard of a concrete before ordering one at Shake Shack, but The Astronomer, a St. Louis native, was quite knowledgeable. He informed me that a well-made concrete can be turned upside down without any deliciousness falling out a la Ted Drewes.

Good thing I was dining with a concrete expert because the concrete I received was unacceptably melted. I brought the concrete up to the pick-up window and asked for a new one. A woman in the shack informed me that the concrete was liquid rather than solid due to the hot caramel sauce, so then I requested for my concrete to to be made with caramel on the side. The second concrete I received was a vast improvement, but still wouldn’t pass the upside down cup test. I guess I’ll just have to return to St. Louis for the real deal. Texture aside, the concrete was pretty darn wonderful. The vanilla custard was creamy, the chocolate toffee was crunchy and sweet, and the chocolate chunks were dark and luxurious. I was on a sugar high for a good long while after I polished off the concrete.

The Astronomer ordered a single cheeseburger with a side of fries. The burger was quite good and on par with the ones from In-N-Out. Following the Luger Burger, Shake Shack’s paled in comparison. We admit that it’s unfair to compare a fastfood-type hamburger with a gourmet one, but the Luger Burger was fresh in our minds and on our taste buds. The fries were decent, but The Astronomer prefers his with seasonings. Unless the line at Shake Shack was dramatically shorter, The Astronomer wouldn’t return for the hamburger or fries. However, I would return for the semi-frozen treats.

Peter Luger

May 28, 2007
Cuisine: Steakhouse

178 Broadway, Brooklyn 11211
At Driggs Ave

Phone: 718-387-7400

Onion, Rye and Salt, White (complimentary)

Luger Burger with Cheese ($10)

Luger Milk Chocolate Coins (complimentary)

After a seven mile run along the scenic East River, The Astronomer and I were ready for day two of our food tour. We hopped on the F train, transferred to the M, and eventually arrived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at Peter Luger.

For the full review click here:


May 2, 2007
Cuisine: American (New), Bistro

205 S 18th St, Philadelphia 19103
At Walnut St

Phone: 215-732-6622
Website: none

Roll with butter (complimentary)

Pan Seared Crab Cake – Provençal fish soup, potato rouille, baby fennel, garlic confit ($17)

Rouge Burger – Gruyère caramelized onions and pommes frites ($15)

With spring definitely in bloom, my friend James and I met up for a leisurely lunch at Rouge. The weather was perfect so we opted to dine alfresco even though it meant waiting a short while. We landed a table close to 18th Street, which fortunately wasn’t too busy this weekday. Exhaust and eats would have been a terrible combination.

In July 2005, Alan Richman of GQ ranked the Rouge Burger #4 on his list of “The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die.” Glancing at the menu, I quickly settled on the famed burger because I love a well-executed burger and I aim to eventually eat all twenty someday! By the way, Rouge’s neighbor Barclay Prime holds the #3 spot on the list with their Kobe Beef Sliders.

After spying a fellow diner’s Rouge Burger, I decided that it was too hefty for one and chose to split it with James. For our second entree, James picked the Pan Seared Crab Cake. As we waited for our food to arrive, we were brought out delicious rolls with pads of butter sprinkled with coarse salt. The afternoon sun softened the butter nicely, which ensured a smooth spread.

The entrees were brought out simultaneously, but I reached for the burger first because it looked so inviting. One bite and I was in beefy heaven. The meat patty was moist, flavorful, and measured over an inch thick at it’s widest (which James found a little challenging). The brioche bun was flaky, sweet, and bravely held on tight to the enormous patty. The cheese and caramelized onions were great too, but overshadowed by the almighty beef. The burger was so satisfying that I skipped on the ketchup, lettuce, and tomato. Our only complaint was the limp pickle spear.

The frites served with the Rouge Burger reminded James in appearance (not taste) of Boardwalk Fries. Every frite from top to bottom in the conical holder was crisp and salted nicely. In this case, ketchup was in order.

I moved on to the Pan Seared Crab Cake after a couple bites of my burger. The crab cake was petite, lightly packed with chunks of crab meat, and seared ever so slightly. James thought the tastiest parts of the crab cake were more aggressively seared. In hindsight, we should have asked for the crab cake to be delivered as an appetizer because the flavors were far too mild to be eaten side by side with the burger. The fish “soup” was lackluster, but next to the Rouge Burger, what isn’t?

Click below for Alan Richman’s complete list: “The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die”
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