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Monday, August 29, 2011

The Second Floor Bistro-Bar - August 25, 2011

Last week's burger quest took our group to the Westin Galleria Hotel to try the burger offering at The Second Floor Bistro-Bar whose kitchen is headed up by Chef J. Chastain and overseen by Scott Gottlich owner of both Second Floor and Bijoux. At lunch Second Floor features a variety of soups, salads, sandwiches and entress such as hand rolled fettuccini, risotto and house made gnocchi. As intriquing as those dishes sounded, we were there were burgers and a few moments after sitting, our server took our drink and lunch orders. I ordered the Second Floor Blue Burger cooked medium which featured blue cheese, pancetta and grilled onions for $14.50. The regular cheeseburger comes with white cheddar, gruyere Swiss or jack cheese. About 10-15 minutes later, the following burger was placed before me:

I didn't expect the side salad to come with the fries but it was a welcome addition to the plate after tasting. The mix of field greens was topped with a flavorful vinagrette and added a healthy foil to the decandent burger. If you wanted some greens with your burger, they would add a different flavor and crunch to this burger. The burger was served simply with a fresh bun topped with a patty topped with a generous portion of blue cheese, pancetta and red wine grilled onions. Taking my first bite, I was overwhelmed with the flavor of the blue cheese but after removing a portion of it, I really enjoyed the burger. The patty was cooked to a perfect medium and and crispy smoky pancetta was offset with the sweet grilled onions. I think that the blue cheese is great in concept but a little bit goes a long way. In the future I would choose the cheddar or the gruyere option. The pancetta was cooked crispy and gave a unique alternative to the typical bacon placed on a burger. It had a nice smoky flavor and melded well with each bite of the patty. The onions were cooked to a very soft texture and picked up the flavors of the red wine that they were cooked in. Next the patty was very juicy and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper. I thought that the patty held up well to the burger. Finally the fries were thin style and cooked crispy. They were seasoned with salt, pepper and a few herbs and were a welcome side dish to the burger.

Overall, I thought that the Second Floor served a really good upscale burger. The patty was cooked perfectly and seasoned to provide a nice flavor in each bite. The blue cheese was tasty but tended to overwhelm the flavors of the pancetta, onions and beef in each bite. Ultimately I think it is difficult to balance all the rich flavors that a blue cheese burger provides. I would definitely order a burger again at Second Floor and look forward to trying the other options such as the Friday night molecular gastronomy drinks and bites.

Ratings (1-25:)

Bun - 20, stood up well to the very juicy burger, nice flavor

Meat - 21, perfectly cooked, pancetta added nice dimension to each bite

Appearance - 21, beautiful presentation, nice contrast between cheese, greens, fries and onions

Taste - 20, blue cheese overpowering at first, great flavor of beef, pancetta and onions

Overall - 82

Bonus Pic of Cheeseburger with Cheddar:

Second Floor on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Coffee House Cafe - August 10, 2011

Last week's burger quest took our group to Jeff Rockow's new gig - Coffe House Cafe at Frankford and Preston in North Dallas. Chef Rockow was formally the head chef at Rex's Seafood Market and is now working at Coffee House. The restaurant is open from 6-4 M-F and 8-4 on weekends and specializes in typical diner food done in Rockow's style. When we entered the restaurant, we were pleasantly greeteed by the hostess and seated at our table. A few moments later our server came to our table and took our drink orders. After bringing my ice tea, I ordered a 8 ounce Akuashi burger cooked medium with bacon, cheddar, grilled onions and mayonnaise. It seemed pricey at over $14 but I was curious to see what Chef Rockow could serve after being a regular at Rex's Seafood Market. About fifteen minutes later, the following burger was brought to the table:


The whole wheat bun was lightly toasted and red wine sauteed onions were placed on the bottom bun and then topped with the half pound patty. Cheddar cheese was then melted perfectly over the hamburger patty and then the top bun was placed on top of the burger. For some reason neither bacon nor mayonnaise made it on the burger and after I was almost done eating the burger, the server came by and asked how we were doing and said he would bring some mayonnaise. I declined at that point but it was a little disappointing. When I took my first bite of the burger, I was impressed at how juicy the patty was and how the cheese and onions worked really well in the bite. The onions had been sauteed in red wine and were caramelized nicely and were definetly a highlight of the burger. Akuashi beef is a Kobe style beef that is well marbled and while I had never had Akuashi beef before; I had seen it on several menus around town at a high price point. The patty was very juicy, was seasoned well and was cooked to a perfect medium. I would have liked to have had bacon on the burger to add even more richness to the burger but it really wasn't needed. Finally the burgers were served with kettle chips instead of fries. I know it is easier to pour chips out of bag but when serving a burger made from Akuashi beef, you would think that Coffee House Cafe would serve a great side of fries with the burger.

Overall I thought that Coffee House Cafe served a really good upscale style burger. The patty was extremely juicy and cooked perfectly. I was a little disappointed in the service issues but I think with time, they will work out the kinks. This was an upscale burger that can compete with some of the better burgers in town. I will be back to Coffee House Cafe to either get a burger or try some of their other menu offerings.

Ratings (1-25:)

Bun - 19 - nicely toasted bun, prefer a white bun as opposed to wheat bun

Meat - 21, great blend of fat and beef, very flavorful

Appearance - 20, good looking burger, cheddar cheese melted perfectly on top of patty

Taste - 20, great representation of upscale burger, cooked well and tasty grilled onions

Overall - 80

Coffee House Cafe on Urbanspoon