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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Alee Burgers - December 29, 2010

Our final burger quest of 2010 took us to Alee Burgers which is a recently opened burger and wing restaurant at the southeast corner of Forest Lane and Webb Chapel. Alee Burgers is a no-frills restaurant with seating for about twenty people and an open kitchen behind the register. It appears to have been a Subway in a past life. There were a few people waiting in line to order and when it was my turn, I ordered a half pound bacon cheese burger cooked to medium which at lunch is served with fries and a drink for $5.68. Behind the register, I saw that all the burgers were cooked on a small shiny flattop. Aftr I paid for my order, the server took notice where I was sitting and then went to work on cooking my burger to order. About ten minutes later, the following burger was brought to my table:

Shredded lettuce and slices of tomato were placed on the bottom bun which had been very lightly toasted and then salad was topped by the patty which reminded me of the patties at Smashburger. A single slice of slightly melted American cheese was then placed on top of the patty and the topped with a large serving of diced grilled onions and two crispy slices of bacon. The top bun was also lightly toasted and was slathered with mayonnaise. Taking a bite, I could tasted the salt and pepper used to season the patty but the flattop needs time to build up the seasoning which gives those nice crusty bits that only come from a well seasoned cooktop. The patty was cooked to medium-well but it was still somewhat juicy in every bite. The American cheese really didn't add anything to each bite of the burger since it only covered a part of the patty and was pretty flavorless in itself. The bacon was cooked to a nice crunch and the grilled onions were cooked perfectly to a nice golden color with just a slight crunch in each bite. The bun was a standard seedless hamburger bun but it did not fall apart and gave a good flavor to each bite of the overall burger. Finally the fries were probably my favorite part of the whole burger. The were medium cut skin-on fries that were hot and crispy and seasoned with a spicy seasoning salt. I am usually not a fan of this style of fries but I will be back to try them again.

Overall, Alee Burger was a good burger made even better by it's price point. It's hard to find a half-pound burger with fries and a drink for less than six dollars. I really liked that the burgers were cooked to order and with time, the flattop grill will get used and the patties will have even more flavor. The staff was very pleasant and seemed to be interested in serving up great food. I will definately be back to try the other burgers on the menu at Alee Burger and I look forward to having some more of their fries.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 18, standard hamburger bun, lightly toasted

Meat - 19, nicely cooked patty, lightly seasoned, crisp tasty bacon

Appearance - 20, smashed style patty and great grilled onions looked really good on the platter

Taste - 19, good flavors, time will make the burgers even better

Overall - 76

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nosh Euro Bistro - December 7, 2010

It has been a busy time with work so the burger questing has unfortunately been taking a back seat lately but on December 7, we were able to visit Avner Samuel's newest restaurant, Nosh Euro Bistro which is on Oak Lawn Avenue. Nosh is a very open restaurant featuring lots of light, warm colors, open kitchen and a large flat screen television which gives patrons a better view of the food being cooked. Our group was seated by a pleasant server who went over the features of the day and asked us for our drink orders. Unfortunately Nosh only serves bottled ice tea which I found strange so I stuck with reliable Dallas tap water. When the server returned with our drinks, I ordered the Nosh Stacked Kobe Burger which featured a 1/2 pound of house ground Waygu, a blend of cheddar cheeses and fries for $14. While we waiting for our main courses, we tried the Spiced Beef Cigars and Crushed Avocado Crostini. The cigars were perfectly cooked but their delicate flavor was overpowered by the pear chutney served on the side. According to the menu on their website, it looks like they might be serving the cigars with a lighter sauce now. I really enjoyed the Crostini - The crushed avocado was lightly seasoned and then topped with a nice amount of Spanish Chorizo, olive oil and sea salt. I could snack on those all day long as the fattiness of the avocado was nicely offset by the spice of the chorizo. After we were done for our small plates, the following burger was placed on the table:

The thick patty was placed on top of a well toasted sesame seed bun and was the patty was then topped with a blend of melted white and yellow cheddar cheese. The burger was then finished off with an average blend of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and thinly sliced pickles. I removed the salad blend, took my first bite of the burger and tasted a lightly seasoned but somewhat dry burger. You could taste the flavor of the Waygu but overall it just didn't taste like a burger. It reminded me a lot of a chopped steak plate but in burger form. The cheddar cheeses had a great flavor and were melted nicely over the patty. I am not sure if the bun was made in house but it was toasted perfectly, had a good flavor and texture and did not overpower the rest of the burger. Finally the french fries were my favorite part of the whole burger. They were crispy thin-style fries that was seasoned with salt and fresh herbs and I enjoyed dipping them in the remoulade sauce served with the burger.

Overall I thought the Nosh Euro Bistro prepared a decent burger but when I return in the future, I think I will stick with the other offerings. The small plates that we had were great and I tried a little bite of the other main entrees and they were wonderful. If you are craving a upscale burger when you visit, then its worth trying but I think you'd enjoy Avner's other offerings on the menu at Nosh better.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 19, nicely toasted, liked the sesame seeds

Meat - 19, high quality meat, just not enough burger flavor

Appearance - 20, very pretty presentation of burger and fries

Taste - 18, decent upscale burger, fresh meat used in patty

Overall - 76

Bonus Pic of Crushed Avocado Crostini:

Nosh Euro Bistro on Urbanspoon

Restaurant AVA - November 20, 2010

The Saturday before Thanksgiving took the burger quest to Downtown Rockwall to try The "AVA" Burger at Restaurant Ava. Ava is owned by Randall Copeland and Nathan Tate and the restaurant strives to use locally sourced ingredients in their dishes. I entered the restaurant from the back entrance and walked past the open kitchen where I saw a burger cooking over open flames. The smells coming from the kitchen were wonderful and I was glad I had made the trek to Rockwall. I was seated at a table in the main dining room which had a nice view of the shops in Rockwall. A few moments later, the server took my order for The "AVA" Burger cooked medium which is one of the less expensive gourmet burgers at $12. I could hear and smell my burger cooking and after a short wait, the following burger was brought to the table:

The presentation of the burger was very pretty - thick slices of purple onion, homemade pickles and mixed field greens were served on the side next to a large cup of thick house-cut fries. The bun was lightly toasted on the top and bottom and a thick hand-formed patty was placed on top of the bottom bun. A slice of lightly melted white cheddar was on top of patty and the burger was finished with two thick slices of bacon that were made in house from Niman Ranch pork belly. The server told me that the meat for the patty was ground from steak scraps and the bun was baked in-house as well. Taking my first bite, I tasted a lightly seasoned, very juicy patty that was infused with smokiness from being cooked over a wood fire and it was cooked to a perfect medium. The cheddar cheese gave a mild nutty flavor to each bite. The bacon was extremely good but it wasn't a typical crispy bacon but it added a welcome layer of texture to each bite. Unless I am wanting Maple and Motor's crispy bacon, this would be the bacon I would want on my burger and is some of the best in the Dallas area. The homemade bun was light and fluffy but held up well to each bite of the burger. I would have expected it to fall apart from the juicy patty but I never had to pick up my fork and knife. Finally the fries were seasoned well and cooked to a nice crisp. Although I prefer a thinner style fry, the had a good flavor and were great dipped in the homemade mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup.

Overall, Restaurant AVA served a great burger using fresh ingredients prepared in house. The flavors melded together nicely and it was a great showing of what can be done with a gourmet burger. If you aren't in the Rockwall area but are looking for an outing on Saturday, I would recommend visiting the shops in downtown Rockwall and then having The "AVA" Burger.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 19, lightly toasted bun, good flavor in every bite

Meat - 22, great patty, thick slices of bacon, well cooked

Appearance - 20, fresh ingredients, well cooked burger, great presentation

Taste - 22, great flavors in each bite, tasty burger

Overall - 83

Bonus Picture of Homemade Condiments:

Restaurant AVA on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Broken Egg Cafe - November 18, 2010

Another Broken Egg Cafe recently opened its second location in Dallas on Greenville Avenue just north of Lovers Lane. Another Broken Egg is open for breakfast and lunch and features a variety of breakfast items, sandwiches, soups and burgers on their menu. Our group arrived shortly after noon and patrons were scattered at tables around the restaurant. We were promptly seated by our friendly server who returned a few moments later with our drink orders. I ordered the Bacon and Cheddar Burger with grilled onions cooked medium. All burgers are served with a pickle spear and country potatoes. After a short wait, the following burger was placed in front of me:

A hand formed patty sat on top of crispy golden bun and was topped with bacon, melted cheddar cheese and lightly grilled onions. The grilled onions has a light caramel color on them and were still crisp in each bite. Taking my first bite, I tasted fresh ground beef that was lightly seasoned intertwined with the smokiness of the bacon and the cheddar cheese. The onions really didn't add much flavor to the burger. If they had been cooked longer, their sweetness would have come through more. The patty was cooked to a perfect medium and stayed juicy until the last bite. It was lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and had a nice crunch from being cooked on the flattop. The bacon was cut into thick slices and was very crispy and hot on the burger. The bun was very buttery and had been cooked extra crispy. It reminded of buttered french bread you eat at Italian restaurants. It was a different style of bun but it worked for the burger and added a different layer to the flavor profile with the buttery crispy bun. Finally, the country potatoes were good but didn't seem to go as well with the burger as tots or fries would have. They were cooked crispy and were tasty lightly salted and peppered but I like country potatoes with my scrambled eggs not my burger.

Overall, I thought that Another Broken Egg cooked a good burger using fresh ingredients and a crispy buttered bun. I would have liked the onions to be caramelized more but they did add flavor to each bite. If you aren't craving fries and aren't interested in breakfast fare, Another Broken Egg Cafe served a good burger at a reasonable price.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 20, crispy buttered bun, held up well while eating burger

Meat - 19, handformed patty, nice crust from flattop, good seasoning, crispy bacon

Appearance - 20, nice looking patty, cheese melted nicely, golden toasted bun

Taste - 20, well seasoned, tasty burger

Overall - 79

Bonus Picture of Hamburger:

Another Broken Egg Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nova Restaurant Dallas - November 14, 2010

Last week's burger quest took our group to Nova, Kelly Hightower's restaurant at 1417 West Davis Street in Oak Cliff. Nova has been open since mid-July and I have been told by multiple people that a great burger was to be found there. In a prior life, Nova's building was a Dairy Queen but the owners have completely transformed the location into a modern restaurant while still keeping the feel of a throwback to a hip diner. When we entered the restaurant, we were promptly seated and menus and a water with a slice of cucumber was brought to our table. We were shown the drink list written on the chalkboard and menus featuring small plates, pizza and a selection of entrees such as pasta with Jimmy's Italian Sausage, Nova's twist on Pho, a pork chop, a New York Strip and a lamb burger. I was hoping for a beef burger but was glad to try something different. I ordered the lamb burger cooked medium and an order of house smoked salmon potato skins and after the table enjoyed the potato skins, the following burger was placed in front of me:

A layer of baby spinach was placed on the bottom bun and then topped with the lamb patty. The patty was then topped with a blend of tatziki sauce and feta cheese and then topped off with a brioche bun. It was a very simple but pretty presentation for a burger. Taking a bite I tasted a blend of Mediterranean spices and the creaminess of the tatziki sauce, little bit of bitterness from the spinach and a slight saltiness from the feta cheese. The feta cheese was present but it didn't over power the flavor of the burger. The tatziki sauce was well seasoned and contrasted nicely with the slight gaminess of the lamb meat. The patty was cooked to a perfect medium and while not as juicy as a beef patty, it stayed juicy in each bite. The brioche bun was one of the better buns I have had while eating burgers in this quest. It was light and fluffy and it surprised me by not apart while I was enjoying the burger. With the amount of sauce placed on top of the patty, I would have expected it to disintegrate before I finished with the burger. Finally the fries served on the side were crispy and seasoned with a light dusting of salt, pepper and an herb blend. They had a good flavor and it was hard not to stop using the tatziki sauce as a dip for the fries.

Overall I thought that Nova's lamb burger was very tasty and fit well with the atmosphere of the restaurant. It was a nice mix of Mediterranean flavors and was cooked perfectly. While it wasn't the typical bacon cheeseburger that I try on this quest, I would return to Nova to try the burger and I look forward to seeking what the next version of the burger will be when Chef Hightower decides to change up the menu again.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 21, light fluffy Brioche bun, nicely toasted, held up well to saucy burger

Meat - 20, well seasoned lamb, cooked medium, juicy patty

Appearance - 20, golden bun, cascade of sauces, nicely grilled patty

Taste - 20, flavorful non-traditional burger, good seasoning throughout

Overall - 81
Nova on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Razzoo's Cajun Cafe - November 1, 2010

While not the first place I would think of to try a burger, this week's burger quest took us to Razzoo's Cajun Cafe on Central Expressway and Spring Valley Road. Razzoo's menu focuses on their take on Cajun dishes such as etoufee, shrimp Creole, jambalaya and a variety of appetizers such as fried pickles, fried gator tail and their specialty Rat Toes - fried jalapeno's stuffed with shrimp, crab and cheese. Our group arrived at Razzoo's and were promptly seated by the hostess at a booth. We ordered our drinks and after our server brought iced tea to us, I placed an order for the Big Easy Cheesboiger cooked medium with the bbq sauce served on the side. All burgers are served with cheese and bacon and come with a side of fries. The total bill came to $10.91 before gratuity. After a short wait which was spent watching highlights of the NFL games from the day before on the small tv at every booth, the following burger was brought to the table:

The crispy buttered bottom bun was topped with a half pound patty which was top with a blend of Cheddar and Monterrey Jack Cheese and two thin slices of bacon. If barbecue sauce was ordered on the burger, Razzoo's thinly layers it between the cheese and patty. The burger was then topped with the top bun which had also been flattened, buttered and toasted very crisp. Taking my first bite, there was a nice crunch from the toasted buns and I noticed a slight Cajun spice flavor to the patty. The blend of cheeses added a nice flavor to each bite of the burger while the bacon could have been thicker and crispier. The bacon had a good flavor but the slices were a little thin and undercooked. The patty was seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper and some Cajun seasoning but it appeared to be a preformed patty which I would expect since the majority of diners are visiting Razzoo's for seafood. The patty was cooked to a slight pink color in the middle and stayed juicy in every bite. Another one of our group ordered his patty medium-rare and it was also cooked perfectly and I would probably order mine medium-rare on a subsequent visit. The fries were skin-on thick cut fries that were cooked slightly crispy and then dusted with Cajun seasoning. I would have preferred them to be cooked a little longer but they complimented the burger. Also mixed in with the fries were three hush puppies which were perfectly cooked and had a sweet spicy flavor. I would have been perfectly happy with the burger being served with just hush puppies. Finally the bun was a typical hamburger bun but by heavily buttering it and toasted it very crispy, it gave a nice flavor and crunch to every bite of the burger. Maple and Motor uses almost as much butter on their buns but Razzoo's took it to the next level.

Overall, I thought that Razzoo's made a good burger. The flavors melded nicely in each bite and I really like the buttery crispy bun which held up through the whole time I was eating the burger. I would have liked to see Razzoo's make their own patties in house but I know it is not feasible when you a restaurant doesn't focus on burgers. If are visiting Razzoo's and are allergic to seafood or not in the mood for Cajun food, the burger is a good alternative.

Ratings (1-25:)

Bun - 19, buttered toasted; held up well while eating burger

Meat - 19, good flavors in the meat, bacon was good quality

Appearance - 19, nicely melted cheese on top of patty, nice grill marks on patty, golden bun was pretty

Taste - 19, decent burger, well cooked, just didn't have the wow factor a great burger gives

Overall - 76
Razoos on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Strokers Ice House - October 20, 2010

After not being able to quest for burgers for the past two weeks due to crazy times at work, our intrepid group decided to head to Strokers Ice House to try one of Ma's famous burgers. We walked into a sparsely populated dark bar and after reviewing the menu full of typical bar food such as burgers, hot dogs, jalapeno poppers, grilled cheese sandwiches and Frito pies, I placed my order for a double bacon cheeseburger and iced tea which came with a side of potato salad and chips for $12.50. The cashier took our name and we could smell our burgers being cooked as we paid for our orders. About seven minutes later the following burger was brought to the table:

The first thing I noticed was the grill marks on top of the lightly toasted and buttered hamburger bun and the melting American cheese spilling off each side of the burger. The patties appeared to be preformed quarter pound patties and each was covered with a slice of American cheese. Five pieces of bacon which still had sizzling grease on several of the pieces were then placed on top of the burger. Taking a bite, I was met with a very smoky flavor from the hamburger patties. At first I thought it was from cooking the patties over open flame but as I continued to eat the burger, I seem to think that Liquid Smoke had been used on the burgers as the smoke flavor overwhelmed the greasy burger at times. The patties were cooked well done and were lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. I would have liked to have seen a hand formed patty but the burger still turned out greasy and flavorful. The American cheese melted well throughout the burger and was present in every bite from start to finish. The bacon was crispy and hot and was worth spending an extra $1.50 especially with the amount placed on top of the burger. Finally, the hamburger bun help up well to the greasy burger served at Strokers Ice House and the toasting gave a nice crunch to each bite taken of the burger.

Overall, I thought that Strokers Ice House served a decent burger. It was greasy and seasoned well and definitely fit the feel and vibe of Strokers. If Liquid Smoke was used in the cooking process, I would want less to be used in the future which would let the other flavors of the burger shine more. I also wish that Strokers had a deep fryer. While chips and mustard potato salad are fine sides, an order of fries or onion rings would go great with a Strokers burger and an ice cold beer.

Ratings (1-25:)

Bun - 18, nicely toasted bun, buttered on top and held up to greasy patties

Meat - 18, patties grilled over open flame, lightly seasoned, slightly too much smoke flavor, bacon was cooked fresh, would have liked to have seen hand formed patties

Appearance - 20, gooey mess of meat cheese and burger, nice touch with grill marks on top of toasted bun

Taste - 18, good burger, great bacon and bun, cheese in every bite

Overall - 74

Monday, October 4, 2010

Buck's Prime - September 29, 2010

Last week's burger quest took us to just north of downtown Dallas to visit Buck's Prime. The first thing we noticed when we arrived was the sign proclaiming that Buck's had the best burger in Dallas. When we walked in, we could smell the mesquite smoke from the wood grill in the open kitchen and we could various meats being grilled over open fire. The menu featured bbq meats, steaks, hamburgers, grilled chicken and a variety of appetizers and sides. We walked past the troughs full of beer and bottled soda and the cashier greeted us at the register. I ordered a bacon cheddar burger cooked medium with a side of fries and a large iced tea and the cashier collected my ten dollars and gave me a cup of ice and a number. About ten minutes later, my number was called and I picked up the following burger from the counter:

The burger was served open face in basket and the side of fries was served in another basket next to the burger. A lightly toasted bun was topped with the patty which was topped with a slice of lightly melted cheddar cheese. Two thick peppery slices of bacon crossed the slice of cheese. I could smell the smokiness from the patty and I took my first bite. I tasted a lot of bread, a little bit of smoke and a fairly dry hamburger patty. The patty appeared to be a preformed half pound patty that might have been frozen before delivery to Buck's Prime. It was cooked to a perfect medium but was missing something in flavor. I would assume that Buck's was using a leaner patty when slightly more fat would have helped the flavor of the burger. The cheddar cheese had a good flavor and the highlight of the burger was the bacon. Buck's Prime uses a black pepper bacon for their burgers and it was cooked to perfection before being placed on the burger. The flavor of black pepper and bacon added to each bite of the burger. The bun reminded me of buns that I would eat when eating burgers in the backyard. It was a standard white bun and it held up the entire time I was eating the burger. Finally the fries were thick battered fries that arrived crispy and hot. While not my favorite style of fries, they had a good flavor and were a nice compliment to the burger.

Overall, I thought that Buck's Prime did not live up to the claims on their sign by serving a average burger that reminded me of backyard cookouts. It was nothing special but I have had worse burgers. The meat was dry and under-seasoned but it did have a nice flavor from cooking over a wood fire. The bacon and cheese gave a nice flavor to each bite of the burger and the fries were hot and crispy. I am not sure I would try another burger but I liked the location and I would go back to try their other offerings.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 17, standard hamburger bun, lightly toasted

Meat - 16, great bacon, average patty

Appearance - 18, nice looking burger on the plate, cheese melted well, bacon was crispy and covered with black pepper

Taste - 17, average backyard style burger

Overall- 68

Bonus pic of fries:

Buck's Prime on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 24, 2010

Updated Ratings Through September 22, 2010

83 – Club Schmitz
83 - Dairy-ette
82 - Angry Dog
82 - Meddlesome Moth
82 – Roasters ‘n Toasters (Now Closed in Dallas)
82 - Ye Ole Butcher Shop
81 - Barley House
81 - Maple and Motor Burger and Beer
81 - Chips
81 - Ozona
81 - Melios Brothers Char Bar
81 - Tramontana
81 - Yourway Burgers
80 - Cisco Grill
80 - Grazing Cow
80 – Riverside Grill
80 - Smashburger
80 - Neighborhood Services Bar and Grille
80 – Wingfields Burgers and Breakfast
79 - Del's Charcoal Burgers
79 – The Burger Girl
79 – Kellers
79 - John's Cafe
79 – Park
79 – Taco Diner
78 – Back Country Bar B Q
78 - Jake's
78 – Scotty P’s Hamburgers
77 – Burger Spot
76 - JG’s
76 - Twisted Root
76 – Burger House
76 – Village Burger Bar
75 - 12 Burgers
75 – Grape
75 – Snuffers
75 - Stephan Pyles
74 – Five Guys Burgers and Fries
74 - Goff's
74 - Lakewood's 1st and 10
73 – Adair’s Saloon
73 - Flying Fish (Preston Center)
72 – Ball’s Hamburgers
72 - Hole in the Wall
72 - Mighty Fine Burgers (Round Rock)
72 - Central 214
72 – Tre Amici
70 - Peggy Sue's BBQ
69 - Kuby's Sausage House
68 – Loon
67 – Gazeebo Burger
66 – Lucky’s Cafe
66 – Pappy’s Old Fashioned Hamburger Company
65 – Dunston’s Steakhouse
65 - Midway Pointe

John's Cafe - September 22, 2010

This week's quest took us to Greenville Avenue just north of Ross Avenue to visit John's Cafe. John's opened its doors originally in 1972 on Greenville Avenue but was forced to move to Plano Road and Miller when its lease wasn't renewed in 2005. In 2007, John's Cafe opened this location at 1733 Greenville Avenue which is near its original location. We entered the long narrow restaurant and I reviewed the menu above the cash register which included eggs and pancakes, gyros, variety of sandwiches, salad bar and blue plate specials such as chicken fried steak and roast beef. I placed my order for a bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions and mayonnaise, a side of fries and a drink which totaled $10.01. I was asked how I wanted my burger cooked and I ordered it medium. I was given my drink and a number and I found a seat in one of the comfortable booths lining each side of the restaurant. About ten minutes later, the following burger was brought to my table:

When the burger arrived, it was dripping juice on the plate and thin slices of grilled onion were peeking out from below the patty. The patty was resting on a golden toasted bun which was topped with the grilled onions which still had a slight crunch and a nice sweetness from being caramelized on the flattop. The thin hamburger patty was topped with three slices of long thin crispy bacon and two slices of gooey American cheese. Taking a bite, I could taste the simple seasoning of salt and pepper on the juicy patty. The patty was cooked slightly more than medium but with a thin style patty, ordering a temperature really doesn't work. The bacon added a nice crunch to each bite and a little bit of smokey flavor to the burger. The cheese was noticeable in each bite but didn't overwhelm or detract from the flavors of the meat. The toasted bun appeared to be a standard hamburger bun but it was fluffy inside and held up well from start to finish of the burger. The french fries were crispy and hot and complimented the burger. They were standard frozen product but tasted good and weren't overcooked.

Overall I thought John's Cafe prepared a very good diner style burger. The burger had a nice amount of juices in each bite and the simple seasoning of salt and pepper was noticed in each bite. If you are in the area and craving a burger, you can't go wrong with the offering at John's Cafe. I will be back in the future to try the breakfast items and an gyro.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 18, standard hamburger bun, toasted golden brown, held up to the end of the burger

Meat - 20, lightly seasoned patty, juicy meat, bacon was crispy and tasty

Appearance - 21, nice looking burger, patty had crispy bits, cheese was melted well over entire burger

Taste - 20, good tasting diner style burger

Overall - 79
John's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kuby's Sausage House - September 15, 2010

This week's burger quest took us to Snider Plaza to visit Kuby's Sausage House which is a combination meat market and restaurant. We have had good luck in the past with meat market burgers so we were hoping that Kuby's would prepare a great burger. Kuby's was opened in 1961 by Karl Kuby who is still present at the restaurant these days. When we entered the restaurant all the tables were taken so we sat at the counter where we were promptly greeted by our server who took our drink orders. She served me iced tea and I ordered the German style burger cooked medium with cheese and bacon and a side of fries. Total price of the burger and drink was $10.55. About ten minutes later, the following burger was placed in front of me:

When the burger arrived I could smell the herbs used to season the patty which was covered with a nice amount of crusty bits that formed during cooking. The patty was placed on top a fairly thick bun from the Kuby's bakery. A pile of bacon was then placed on top of the patty and the bacon was then covered with two slices of Swiss cheese. The burger was served open-faced with a slice of pickle and a stack of shoestring fries. I put mayonnaise on the top bun and then took a bite of the burger and was overwhelmed with the flavor of Worcestershire sauce. The patty was infused with parsley, chopped onion and a blend of German seasoning and unfortunately was cooked well done. I am not sure if Worcestershire sauce was used during the cooking process or was mixed in with the ground beef but I suspect it was a little of both. The bacon was thick and crispy and the buttery nutty flavor of the Swiss cheese helped to offset the flavor of the Worcestershire sauce. The bun was thicker and denser than the average hamburger bun and was lightly toasted before serving. The bun and the bacon were probably my favorite parts of the burger. The bun had a slightly sweet taste and held up well to each bite of the burger. Finally the fries were cooked crispy and then dusted with a light coating of seasoning.

Overall, I thought Kuby's cooked a unique burger. It was almost as if the restaurant wanted to create a variety of sausage that got turned into a hamburger patty instead. The bun, cheese and bacon were really good but the most important part of the package was not my favorite. The patty could have used a little less seasoning and a little less cooking time. I will back to Kuby's in the future but it will be for Kasseler Rippchen and Potato Pancakes instead of a burger.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 20, thick dense bun with good flavor; held up well to burger

Meat - 15, funky seasonings, overcooked but good quality meat, patty somewhat dry to being cooked well done

Appearance - 19, nice picture of bacon and melted cheese, bits of onion sticking out of patty were nice

Taste - 15, too much Worcestershire sauce, seasonings would have worked better in sausage

Overall - 69
Kuby's Sausage House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Yourway Burgers - September 3, 2010

Last week's burger adventure took us to Farmers Branch to visit Yourway Burgers whose promises that they make burgers the right way, your way. To differentiate themselves from other burger restaurants, Yourway features a five step process during the ordering process where you choose your meat, bun, cheese, infused toppings (jalapenos, tomatoes, crushed red pepper, onions, bell peppers and mushrooms) and premium toppings such as bacon, avocado, fried egg and chili. To help with the process, each diner is given a menu with check boxes to choose how they want their burger prepared. I chose a half pound beef burger on white sweet sourdough with cheddar cheese and bacon and infused with chopped jalapenos which cost $10.81 with fries and a drink. I paid for my order and was given a buzzer to wait for my order. The drink station is next to the condiment station which includes fresh onions, lettuce, tomatoes and a variety of sauces such as mayonnaise, mustard, honey mustard and bbq sauce. About ten minutes later, my buzzer went off and I picked up the following burger:

The burger was served open face which showed off the grill marks on the patty and the golden toasted bun. You could also see the small pieces of chopped jalapeno peppers infused throughout the patty. A slice of cheddar cheese was melted on top of the patty and two small slices of bacon were placed on top of the cheese. I put the top bun on the burger and took a bite and I tasted a smokey well seasoned patty cooked to a perfect medium rare contrasted by the sweetness of the bun. The jalapenos infused in the patty were not very spicy but were prevalent in every bite. The bacon had a decent flavor but could have used a little more time cooking. It was slightly chewy which works well with scrambled eggs but on a burger, I prefer a little more crunch and thickness. The sweet sourdough bun had a great flavor but was slightly too thick. At times it would overwhelm the flavors of the patty and cheese. I am not sure if the other bun choices were as thick but I really liked the flavor of the sweet sourdough and would order it again. Finally, the shoestring fries were thin long slices of potatoes fried perfectly and topped with garlic parmesan cheese. Other choices for the fries include cajun seasoning or lemon pepper. I liked the parmesan but will be trying the cajun in the future.

Overall I thought Yourway Burgers prepared a really good burger. The meat was fresh and grilled perfectly and I liked the idea of infusing the meat with different ingredients. The bun was very tasty but slightly too thick for the burger. I will definitely be back to try creating a variety of other burger combinations.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 18, great flavor, perfectly toasted, slightly too thick

Meat - 21, well seasoned beef, infused ingredients was a nice touch

Appearance - 21, golden toasted bun, fresh ingredients, great grill marks

Taste - 21, great flavors, sweetness of bun worked well with smokey meat

Overall - 81

Bonus Picture of Sweet Potato Fries:

Yourway Burgers & Wings on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stephan Pyles - August 26, 2010

Last week's burger adventure took us to downtown Dallas to try the burgers at Stephan Pyles. Normally Stephan Pyles is a place you think of for Southwestern cuisine but we had been told that the restaurant serves a great burger at lunch. We were greeted by a friendly hostess who seated us at the bar overlooking a large kitchen full of energetic people preparing lunch for a fairly full restaurant. A few seats down from us, chefs were preparing for the nights service of Fuego which is Stephan Pyles restaurant within a restaurant concept. Our friendly server greeted us and told us about the daily specials and asked what we wanted to drink. A few minutes later she returned with our drinks and then I ordered a cheddar burger cooked medium with a side of spicy onion rings. Stephan Pyles features a Kobe beef burger cooked over hickory wood for $12 with a choice of fries or onion rings. All burgers are served with house made pickles, pickled carrots, onions and jalapenos. About ten minutes after taking my order, the server brought me a selection of house made ketchup, mayonnaise and must and a few minutes later, the following burger was placed in front of me:

The thick patty with prominent grill marks was a placed on top of lightly toasted house made bun and then covered with a thick slice of melted cheddar cheese. It was fairly simple in presentation but I have found that with Kobe burgers, simplicity is usually a better choice. Taking a bite, I tasted a hint of smoke from the wood grill and a light seasoning of salt and pepper in the beef. The patty was cooked to medium and was juicy but slightly dense in texture. The flavor of the Kobe beef overpowered the cheddar cheese so I would probably save two dollars and order a hamburger in the future. The bun was one of the best buns I have tasted on a burger. It was dense enough to stand up to every bite of the burger but it was still light and fluffy with a great flavor. The server told us that the make the buns fresh every day. Finally the sides served with the burger were hit or miss. The pickled vegetables were extremely good and while I think they would over power the burger, they had a great flavor by themselves. Unfortunately, the onion rings were not that good. Thin slices of onions were lightly battered and fried and then dusted with a blend of chile peppers and salt and served in a large mound next to the burger. The onion rings lost their heat very quickly and while good while hot, they ended up being lifeless once they lost their heat.

Overall I thought that Stephan Pyles prepared a nice burger but it did not provide the burger experience that makes me think this a great burger. The Kobe beef was seasoned well and cooked to perfection but the overall patty was too dense and the cheddar cheese got lost in every bite. The highlight of the burger was definitely the bun - lightly toasted, flavorful, fresh baked that morning and was the perfect holder for the burger. For a gourmet burger offering, Stephan Pyles serves a good burger but in the future, I would probably choose one of the other offerings on the menu.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 23, light and fluffy, great bun

Meat - 17, nicely seasoned but a little too dense, fresh meat

Appearance - 18 great grill marks, pickled vegetables were very pretty, bun had a nice shine on top

Taste - 17, good burger but something missing, flavors just didn't blend together perfectly

Overall - 75
Stephan Pyles on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

12 Burgers - August 21, 2010

Last week's burger rave took our group to the northeast corner of Preston Road and Belt Line Road to visit 12 Burgers which was recently named one of the top burgers in Dallas by the Dallas Morning News. 12 Burgers is located in small building that appears that have been a Taco Bell or Taco Bueno in past lives. The restaurant features an open kitchen with a flat top grill to cook burgers and fryers to cook up fresh cut fries and other appetizers such as hot wings, onion rings, cheese sticks and stuffed jalapenos. We were greeted at the register by a friendly employee who took our orders. I ordered a bacon cheddar burger with grilled onions and mayonnaise which was priced at $5.45 on the menu and for another $2.75, I upgraded to a combo which included fries and a drink. We were given a number and after getting a drink, I waited about ten minutes before the following burger was brought to the table:

An overlly thick layer of mayonnaise coated both the perfectly buttered and toasted top and bottom buns. The hand formed half-pound patty was covered with melted cheddar and two small slices of bacon. Lightly grilled onions were then heaped on top of the bacon. Taking my first bite, the burger was overpowered by the flavor of the mayonnaise so scraped off most of it and then went back to eating the burger. In the future, I would make a point to order light mayonnaise. The flavors of the burger were pretty good but were missing something. The patty was lightly seasoned and cooked to just above medium but it needed a little more seasoning and since it was made from a leaner blend of beef, it wasn't super juicy but it had enough fat in the meat to keep it from drying out. The cheddar cheese was a mild variety and was melted nicely on top of the patty. The grilled onions were only slightly cooked and didn't have the caramel color found on other burgers. The flavor of the bun was fairly neutral so it did not detract from the flavors of the meat and cheese on the burger. The bun also held up well to every bite. Finally you could taste that the fries were fresh cut every morning but they did not have much flavor.

Overall, I thought that 12 Burgers prepared an average burger but I applaud them on using fresh ingredients for their meat and fries. The burger could have used a little more fat in the meat and more seasoning and the mayonnaise should have been used a little more sparingly on the hamburger. I can see the potential in these burgers but there is still work to be done.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 20, perfectly toasted, soft and fluffy inside

Meat - 18, well cooked, needed more seasoning, bacon was used sparingly

Appearance - 19, nice looking combination of meat, melted cheese and grilled onions, golden brown bun looked really nice

Taste - 18, flavors didn't blend together as well as expected, fresh ingredients don't always mean the tastiest burger

Overall - 75
12 Burgers on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tramontana - August 10, 2010

This week's burger quest took us to Preston Center to James Neel's restaurant Tramontana. Tramontana is a small bistro that is open Tuesday through Saturday and has an eclectic menu of locally sourced ingredients with French and Southern takes on the food. We walked in the restaurant and were promptly seated by our server who then told us the specials of the day which was a pasta dish and a red snapper dish. We all decided to order the Chef's Burger with double cheese and bacon which was priced at $10.95. While we waited on our burgers, the server brought us house made breads with a garlic red pepper butter which made for a nice snack while we waited. About ten minutes later, the following burger was brought to the table:

The burger was served open face so you could see the fresh lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion which I promptly turned into a nice side salad. A selection of mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and ketchup was served on the side in small ramekins. The half pound patty was served on a lightly toasted artisan bun. Two slices of American cheese were melted on top of the patty and then two crispy slices of bacon were crossed on top of the cheese. The patty appeared to be hand formed and taking a bite of the burger, I tasted a juicy patty seasoned with salt pepper and garlic. The patty had also been cooked to a perfect medium with the right amount of pink in the meat. I am not sure what meats Chef Neel used in the blend but it was fresh and flavorful. The American cheese was melted perfectly and while it didn't add much flavor to the burger, it worked well. The thin slices of bacon were smoky and cooked crispy. The hamburger bun had a good flavor and held up to every bite. Finally the french fries with crispy shoestring fries that had been lightly salted. They were too perfect to be hand cut but the generous serving was a good accompaniment to the burger.

Overall I thought that Tramontana cooked a well seasoned juicy burger. It isn't the cheapest burger but the ingredients were high quality and the burger was perfectly cooked. If you are in Preston Center and looking for a burger, Tramontana would be a great choice.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 19, good flavor, held up well to the juicy burger

Meat - 21, fresh hand formed patty, seasoned well, crispy smoky bacon

Appearance - 20 - great presentation, cheese melted nicely, colorful vegetables

Taste - 21, great seasoning, juicy patty, high quality meat

Overall - 81
Tramontana on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Neighborhood Services Bar & Grille - August 2, 2010

This week's burger adventure took our group to newest location of the Neighborhood Services group of restaurants - Neighborhood Services Bar and Grille. This location recently opened on the southeast corner of Preston and Royal and in September will the first of the group to be open for lunch. When we entered the restaurant, we were promptly greeted by a hostess who put our names on the waiting list and then pointed us in the direction of the bar. The menu at this location is very similar to the other locations and consists of a variety of grilled meats, pastas, fish dishes, daily specials. We found seats at the bar which was placed in front of an open kitchen which gave us some wonderful smells and sights as we waited. We were hungry so we decided to eat at the bar instead of waiting for a table and I ordered the cheeseburger ($15) cooked to medium which is served with a side of hand-cut French Fries and secret sauce. After ten minutes of watching my burger being cooked over the flame grill, the following burger was placed before me:

The hamburger patty is made with a mixture of chuck and brisket that is ground daily at the restaurant and placed on top of a bed of lettuce covering the toasted bottom bun. A thick slice of cheddar cheese was slightly melted in the middle of patty which was then topped with thick slices of fresh tomatoes, purple onions and homemade pickles. The burger was then topped with the crown of the toasted sesame seed bun. When I took my first bite, I tasted a very juicy and flavorful patty that had been cooked slightly under medium. The fat in the brisket and chuck mixture gave a the patty a great flavor which blended well with the mild cheddar cheese and the fresh bun. The patty also had a nice char on it from being cooked over flame. The cheddar cheese was probably my least favorite part to the burger. While it had a good flavor, it had a gritty texture in every bite that I took. I also would have like for it to have been melted a little more evenly over the patty. Next the sesame seed bun held up well to the juicy patty but it did not overpower the flavor of the meat. Finally the French fries that were dusted with red clay sea salt were very good especially when dipped in the spicy secret sauce. They weren't as crispy as other offerings but I enjoyed the fresh hand-cut fries.

Overall, I enjoyed the hamburger offering from Neighborhood Services Bar & Grille. The fresh ground beef was seasoned well and worked well with the toasted bun. The cheddar cheese was not my favorite but it did add to the gourmet quality of the hamburger. This is one of the more expensive burger offerings in the area but I would order it again when having lunch or dinner at Neighborhood Services Bar and Grille.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 19, nicely toasted sesame seed bun, good flavor

Meat - 21, great combination of brisket and chuck with good fat content, juicy patty

Appearance - 20, nice char on patty, fresh ingredients

Taste - 20, good seasoning, flavors of beef cheese and bun melded nicely in each bite

Overall - 80
Neighborhood Services Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lakewood's 1st and 10 - July 29, 2010

This week marked one year of our quest to find the ultimate burger and we decided to visit Lakewood's 1st and 10 on Mockingbird Lane in East Dallas. 1st and 10 features typical bar food such as burgers, chicken sandwiches, grilled ham & cheese, fried pickles, cheese fries, hot dogs and a few salad choices. When we walked in the darker bar, we were greeted and the server said we could sit anywhere that we would like and see suggested that we serve ourselves to the complimentary black-eyed peas and hush puppies as she took our drink order. The peas were tasty but the slightly spicy hush puppies were are little past their prime. They probably would have been best when hot from cooking. A few minutes later, the server brought our drinks and asked for our orders. I ordered a bacon cheddar burger with mayonnaise and grilled onions cooked medium with a side of cottage fries. About ten minutes later the following burger was brought to the table:

At first I thought that maybe she had given me the wrong burger but going around the table, we realized that all of our burgers were not how we ordered them. A cheeseburger that was ordered plain and dry was served with mayonnaise and my burger was served with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mustard. We tried to get her attention but we decided that it was not going to happen so we ate what we had been served. I was impressed that the burger was cooked to a perfect medium and after removing the extra toppings, I took a bite and tasted a very flavorful patty and sharp cheddar cheese. The mustard was spread a little too thick so it overpowered the overall flavor of the burger. I also wish that the cook had not cut the burger in half. It was nice to see that the meat had been cooked perfectly but all of the juices in the patty ended up on the bottom of the serving tray. The hamburger bun had a good flavor but the bottom bun did not hold to the amount of toppings placed on it. We forgot to specify point burgers so we received skinny burgers but I wonder if they use different buns for the larger size. If they do not, I wonder if you could actually eat a point burger with your hands. The grilled onions were thin slices of onions that had been caramelized and were placed on top of smoky cheddar cheese. The melted cheese and grilled onions were a great compliment to the patty.

Overall I think I would have been impressed with the burger offering at Lakewood's 1st and 10 but it was hard to get really excited with the screw ups in the kitchen. I realize that mistakes happen so I will probably go back during football season but when ordering I would suggest that the server read back the order and if it comes back wrong, get it fixed immediately upon serving. Also if you want the bigger patty, make sure to specify the Famous Point Burger. Finally I would also ask the kitchen to not cut the burger in half before serving.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 17, good taste but didn't hold up well to the toppings

Meat - 19, nicely seasoned patty, cooked perfectly, juices ran out after cutting in half

Appearance - 20, fresh toppings, good combination of grilled onions and cheese on patty

Taste - 18, good flavors, would have enjoyed more if the burger I ordered was the burger that was served

Overall - 74
Lakewood's 1st & 10 on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Del's Charcoal Burgers - July 22, 2010

This week's burger rave took our group to historic downtown Richardson to visit Del's Charcoal Burgers which has been serving burgers since 1957. Other options on the menu include hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and steak sandwiches. Walking in the restaurant, we smelled the patties cooking over a charcoal grill and occasionally we could see the flames coming over the patties. I placed my order for a Bacon Cheeseburger with Cheddar and grilled onions with the owner with a side of fries and a jumbo iced tea. He suggested that I go with the sweet potato fries so I went that route. The owner totaled the order on an old fashioned cash register and I paid my $8.77 and was handed a number. I sat down and about ten minutes later, my number was called and I picked up the following burger:

The bun from Bimbo Bakeries was buttered and toasted and the bottom bun was covered with a bed of cheddar cheese for the patty. Two fairly thick slices of bacon were crossed on top of the patty and they were then covered with thick slices of caramelized white onions. The patty didn't have perfect grill marks like the one Leslie Brenner from the Dallas Morning News showed on a blog post a few weeks ago but you could tell that it had been cooked over an open flame. Taking a bite, I tasted a combination of smoke from the grill, sharp cheddar cheese, sweet grilled onions and the saltiness of the bacon. The thin style patty which probably weighed four to five ounces was cooked well done as I expected it to be. The meat was seasoned nicely and had a good flavor but it wasn't as juicy as I would have liked. The hamburger bun did its job and didn't overwhelm the meat of the hamburger. The grilled onions were sliced long and thick and were very tender and flavorful. Finally, the sweet potato fries were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and were served with a side of what appeared to be homemade honey mustard dressing which was a nice match for the fries.

Overall I thought that Del's did a nice job on its preparation of the cheeseburger. The meat was seasoned well, the bacon was crispy and meshed nicely with the grilled onions, the cheddar cheese was shredded but melted nicely along the bottom of the patty and the bun held up well to the ingredients of the burger. I would like to go back and try a smoked hot dog offerings and maybe a fried Twinkie and a frozen mug of homemade root beer.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 19, average hamburger bun, buttered and toasted

Meat - 20, thin flavorful patty, crispy bacon, good seasoning

Appearance - 20, nice blend of bun, caramelized onions, flame grilled patty, melted cheese

Taste - 20, well cooked burger, seasoned well, smoky bacon and sharp cheddar cheese

Overall - 79

Bonus Pics of Mushroom Burger with Regular Fries and Interior of Del's:

Del's Charcoal Burgers on Urbanspoon