Archive for the ‘Hamburgers’ Category
Believing that depends on who you ask. Culver’s version is to fry the burgers on a flattop and nestle it on a toasted, buttered, bun.
But on the East Coast of the state, in Milwaukee, one will come across Solly’s Grille, which opened in 1936 and purports to be the inventor of the actual “Butter Burger.” Or “Butterburger.”
What the term means at Solly’s is completely different than Culvers. At Solly’s, their patty also starts out on a flattop, and the buns are also toasted, but…wait for it……when the burger gets placed on bun, atop it comes an ice cream scoop size dollop of pure Wisconsin butter, which quickly melts, flavoring the patty, soaking the bun and pooling on the plate.
They say they use 150 pounds + of butter weekly, and I’ve no reason to doubt them.
There are different toppings on tap for burgers, various cheese, bacon, and such, but according to the server, there’s never been a pickle or mayo in house and there never will be.
The full menu includes breakfast. (Yes, you can get a burger during breakfast hours). Sides can be crinkle cut fries, rings, or potato pancakes. (After all, Wisconsin at its heart is very German).
The standard Butterburger is also topped with Solly’s own stewed onions.
There’s a guy in America named George Motz, who is considered by many, far and near, to be America’s Hamburger Expert. Here’s a little video about Solly’s from one of his programs, and introducing the main man at Solly’s these days. (George has a book and a documentary that share the title “Hamburger America.”
You’ll see a million “WOW” reviews of Solly’s online. And I always try to find something cool about every place, every experience, but you know what? This place was a lot better in my imagination that in reality. To me.
The factory produced, frozen patty is nothing special, and the onions were rather overpowering for me. Of course I loved the butter and how it flavored both the bun and meat, but the downside is as it pools on the plate, it soaks the bottom half of the bun and your sandwich can quickly become unmanageable.
Seating is limited to a long counter, and a very few tables, if that influences your decision. Service is hit and miss. And you can expect your multi-layered meal (burger, fries, shake) to not come out in any particular order or proximity to each other. You may have consumed your fries prior to even catching a glimpse of your burger.
The rings I liked. Crispy, a little beer in the batter I suspect, and the waitress “upsold me” on the dipping sauce, which was more than the usual restaurant fare. I’m gonna take a guess it is mayo and Tabasco. Not unpleasant. But I didn’t expect to be charged for it. Oh well. Fries are top-notch as well.
This is a great place to hit for a nostalgic thing if you’re going to Milwaukee. Kind of like hitting the Billy Goat in Chicago. In either case, you’re not going because the food is gonna make you say “WOW OH MAN.”
But it’s fun nevertheless. Two burgers, fries, rings, dipping sauce, one soda, $21.
I have to say from the outset, me and frozen burger patties don’t get along. I’ve tried a boatload of different brands. To me, they have a taste and texture in common that I personally don’t find appealing.
I think probably many of them are marketed to be tossed on your charcoal or gas grill, which considerably changes the experience – but fried on the stovetop? Nope.
So I was skeptical when I spotted “Pasture Perfect American Style Kobe Beef Burgers.” First off, of course you know I object to meat being marketed as “Kobe,” cause 99.99999999999999999999 % of the time it’s not. “Kobe Beef” is a product which comes from a specific breed of cow (Wagyu) and is raised in a specified manner in the area of Kobe, Japan.
Wagyu cattle have been imported to the US, New Zealand, and Australia and it’s the flesh of these animals you frequently see marketed as “Kobe.” The giveaway? If the restaurant you’re at is offering a “Kobe” burger for $12 or $20, it’s not Kobe. You can purchase ‘real’ Kobe online – but get a second mortgage first, here’s one source: http://www.miyazakigyu.com/.
But on to Pasture Perfect. The package promises Wagyu cattle free range, open pasture, 100% grass fedno antibiotics or added hormones. The cattle is raised in New Zealand, and processed in Los Angeles at a re-processor, First Class Foods, in Hawthorne, which has been around since 1962. (Factory pix below).
First Class processes beef, pork and other proteins into retail and food service portions. They also manufacture some heat and eat meals for food service.
The package is one pound, and contains two 8 ounce patties. No idea why they would market it like this instead of smaller portions. I thawed before frying in cast-iron, most directions I have seen call for you to prepare Kobe “low and slow,” but this isn’t ‘real’ Kobe, so I seared and then finished on medium.
I prepared it without and seasoning, and plated it without condiments or toppings. Took a bite. Wow. Tastes like a good steak. Steak texture too. No hint of “artificial smoke” flavoring, no painted on grill marks. It’s good. But expensive. About the most you’d ever pay for a pound of ground beef.
How much would I be willing to pay, to eat them on a regular basis? I think no more than $6 a pound. And even that’s a stretch.
Pasture Perfect Burger Review
Pasture Perfect Burger Review
Pasture Perfect Burger Review
Damn, I love it when a place far exceeds my expectations. I was on the prowl for a new burger in the NW burbs of Chicago and stumbled upon this micro-sized diner offering burgers, sandwiches, and some Greek specialties.
I was intrigued by the “Zeus” burger, which promised a quality beef patty topped with Saganaki (a Greek-style cheese that has been flambed), tzatziki sauce (yogurt, cucumber, dill), and other toppings of your choice.
It was fantastic! Hearty bun, nice flavor in the lean beef patty, cooked to order. Looking at the menu, I also noticed they had kalamata olives for some items, and they would have been a good add-on for this style burger. I’ll remember to ask next time.
Bombas also offers “Greek fries,” which are oven baked, doused with lemon juice and sprinkled with feta. Delish.
If you’re not looking for this place, you might miss it, in a small strip mall next to a large pawn shop. And it seems Google maps has its location a little off the actual place. Or it seemed so to me.
I hope these guys have lots of success. They use quality ingredients with attention to preparation and presentation – at a fair price. Oh yeah, I’ll be back. Oh yeah, outrageously good dill spears, too!
A portion of the menu is below.
A pub/grill, not the song. Tho the song is one of my favorites. Let’s pause, shall we?
The Penny Lane Pub is a modestly sized bar and grill with daily specials, live music on weekends, and open til 3 AM. They have a good bar menu with pizza, sandwiches, wings, tacos, and of course burgers.
I went with the “Olive Burger” which is kind of a thing in the Chicago area, a burger patty topped with sliced green or black olives. On some menus, it’s called a “Queen Burger,” and I’ve never been able to find out how it came into being. It was right up there in the mighty fine category, as were the fresh cut fries. Great beef taste, ample sized, bun substantial enough to hold all manner of toppings. Delish.
Penny Lane obviously buys quality ingredients, and fresh, attractive produce. The kitchen again, obviously, takes pride in their presentation.
Despite its location in Barrington, one of the poshest Chicago suburbs, I found the prices to be very modest. Sandwiches and drinks for two, $14.00.
Not far down the road, you can easily pay double that (or more) at other Barrington watering holes.
I’ll do it again, to check out the pizza and some of the nightly specials, you betcha. The location is on a not very well traveled road, but easy to find, head north of I-90 on highway 59 and hang a left on Penny Road, the joint is just ahead on your left.
Penny Lane Review
Grover’s Grill and Bar, at 412 Northwest Highway in Fox River Grove, IL, sits across the highway from the FRG Metra station. It’s been Grover’s for maybe 3 years. I think it was a Mexican restaurant before that, I had never been in there.
They did some remodeling before opening, took out a couple walls, added a game room, video slots, and a raft of wall-mounted big screen TVs to catch your favorite game.
The menu includes all the Chicago-area favorites: thin crust pizza, cheese cruds, sliders, nachos, tacos, Italian beef and other sandwich favorites, soups, wraps and salads. An extensive selection of custom ‘burgers’ is available as well. Choose from a beef, turkey, chicken breast, tenders or veggie patty, and graze on one of their signature configurations like “The Norge” (bacon, blue cheese and frizzled onions), “The Grover” (Pepper jack cheese, roasted pablanos, red onion and chipotle mayo on a pretzel bun).
Or build your own from a selection of a wide host of toppings.
Pizzas are available in 10, 12, 14, of 16 inch sizes, with an extensive list of ingredients you can choose for toppings, including many not available at most pizza places. Gluten free pies are available in one size, 11″.
I had the Norge burger and it was WAY above my expectations. The amply-sized angus beef patty had great flavor and texture, and the toppings were all fresh and plentiful. It was accompanied by fresh cut fries, also great. Affable, courteous service, too. I’d do it again. I will do it again.
Grover’s is open til midnight Sunday thru Thursday, and til 2AM Friday and Saturday. And they deliver in the area. www.groversgrillandbar.com
I’ve tried a lot of these ‘heat and eat’ burgers, some full cooked, some raw that you have to cook. It’s a long list of these sandwiches that I have slogged through, 7-Eleven, Trader Joes, Fatburger, SteaknShake, Ball Park, Biz Az, of course White Castle, and so many others.
Today’s entry is from Dutch Farms, a frozen food manufacturer in Chicago, mostly focused on dairy and bakery goods, but they also make heat and eat meals. Funny that I don’t ever recall seeing the brand before, but maybe they are huge in the private label business.
The frozen burger comes complete with cheese and bun, wrapped in cello, the instructions tell you to open one end of the cello, heat 90 seconds and then let rest a minute before consuming.
I did. Added mustard and pickle. Flavor was ok, it has some ‘smoke’ flavor added to emulate a grill, texture was ok, my complaint about this (and nearly all of them) are that the buns and meat don’t require the same attention in the microwave, so invariably, one or the other is overcooked or undercooked.
In this case, the bread is just nuked to a pulp (not literally) but it is way too soft to hold a substantial amount of toppings, if that’s they way you choose to dress your burger.
On the plus side, this was a little more than a buck at WalMart. A lot of carbs and fat, but if you’re ok with that, buy a bunch to keep in the freezer for after school.
Which ones do I like the best? Uncooked, the Trader Joes. Cooked? Ball Park. (they aren’t complete, the bag only contains the beef patties).
Dutch Farms Frozen Cheeseburger Review
Feeling a might peckish, I was scoping out restaurants by how much I liked their exterior vintage neons, and opted for the Olympic, right downtown, a couple blocks from the lake.
It’s an old-timey coffee shop format, serving all three meals, with booths and tables. It’s also crowded, not with people, but with ‘stuff,’ and you’ll have to negotiate a path to the washrooms, for instance.
They have a HUGE menu, with enough variety to easily please any diner, and simultaneously overwhelm any kitchen. In other words, the menu is so long that most places are going to have to look for short cuts, and in the case of my selection, the “Meat Lovers Burger,” it meant going with food service ingredients instead of fresh, prepared, in-house grub.
Yeah, I know, it’s a coffee shop. The burger came with fries (which were OK), and was around $10.50, adding cheese would slap on a buck.
Didn’t eat much of it, didn’t take it to go, either. Service was “OK,” there was one young woman for the entire dining room when I arrived, and she seemed a little harried. Ambiance is a-ok. Bathrooms are fairly clean.
Maybe I made a bad choice, maybe the kitchen was having an off day, but they weren’t very busy. There are sooooooooooooooo many options in Lake Geneva, for dining at all ends of the price spectrum. This is probably one you can skip.
I rarely read other reviews, but I checked a few as I was writing this, and some make reference to it’s an excellent place to eat when you’re drunk. I’ll keep that in mind.
Olympic Restaurant Review
Olympic Restaurant Review
This isn’t the sort of place I’d usually stop or write about. First because I’m the last person you’d ever expect to find in a campground, and secondly because in advance of eating there, pretty sure I’d expect to be disappointed. Boy, was I wrong in thinking that here!
Plymouth Rock Campground is a sizable campground for RVs, trailers, and tent campers, with hundreds of spots for rent – you can get maximum facilities or minimum.
There are clean public bathrooms, showers, three swimming pools, a very well stocked store, and planned activities. It also happens to be across the highway from RoadAmerica, a professional race track that stages Indy, Nascar and other races. This is a monster facility that can accommodate up to 150,000 spectators. I didn’t attend.
Near the swimming pool in the NE corner of the campground, is the restaurant, which serves from breakfast until 9PM, a typical “snack bar” menu, but very long on choices. (Menu follows below).
You’ve probably been to a hundred to these types of places, whether at your local golf course, high school game, street fair, and they are all pretty much the same, pre-made, frozen items reheated on the spot. Even the burgers on Amtrak are like that (and very expensive).
Not so with the Plymouth Rock folks. I could tell looking over the ordering window that they had a full kitchen and were actually cooking to order. A flattop grill next to a fryer for burgers, fries, rings, tenders, fish sandwiches and the like. A Baker’s Pride counter top pizza oven. Bakers Pride ovens are standard gear for most of the pizzerias in America. Broaster Chicken oven. Equipment like that, you know these people are serious.
I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and a side of fries, expecting to receive what I described above. Wrong. The burger was hot, freshly made, topped with hand-cut veggies I requested, on a substantial bakery roll – stiff enough to hold a burger, but soft to bite into. Likewise, the fries were hot, crisp, and lightly salted. REAL POTATOES. It’s a pet peeve of mine these days to order fries and get those ones made by extruded presses, they basically take a mashed potato slurry and shove it through a fry shaped mold. Yecchh. No flavor, wrong texture. But not these.
I had to say something, so I finished eating (hey, priorities!) and went back to the counter and said “That was really great, it really exceeded my expectations.”
They thanked me. Nice young couple. How many people thank a cook at a place like this. (I do, a lot, if I’m impressed). Running a restaurant is hard, thankless work.
I was also very surprised at the value pricing. This kind of situation, only outlet for hundreds and hundreds of people, captive audience, usually prices the menu by the “flinch method.”
Not these nice folks. They could easily get another half buck to a buck for any item on the menu and I’m sure no one would bat an eye.
This is a seasonal operation as is the campground. Not sure of precise dates, but sometime from April to October. They mentioned they owned another restaurant, but I didn’t think to get the details.
Click the menus for larger views.
Plymouth Rock Campground Restaurant Review
What can be better than finding a mom and pop place out in the middle of nowhere? Not much, in my opinion, and apparently lots of people agree, because when I stopped at this seasonal drive-in, it was jammed.
They specialize in “broasted chicken,” burgers, and frozen dairy treats. “Broasting” is a combination of deep-frying and pressure cooking that was invented in Wisconsin in the 1950s.
They license their cooking method and sell marinaded chicken and other items for “broasting” to over 5000 restaurants in over fifty countries. Not a traditional franchise, but the company offers the method and equipment for a licensing fee without the payment of ongoing royalties. I first became acquainted with “Broaster Chicken” at my hometown pizza joint, decades ago.
You can dine outside or in a small attached dining room.
I went with the chicken strips and fries, which was five strips and a good amount of fries (which you can also order by the pound!). The food was VERY HOT, cooked to order, and tasted ‘fresh’ meaning (to me) not a hint of stale oil. The chicken coating was crisp, seasoned, and the chicken moist and flavorful.
The order comes with a ramekin of BBQ sauce, and other dipping sauces are available. I’ve driven by this place lots of times and never stopped. My loss. It won’t happen again!
Chick N Dip is located just south of I-90, about 25 miles east of Rockford, IL and 45 minutes west of Chicago. (Map below).
I keep searching for a frozen burger patty that meets with my personal tastes. They come in a few different forms, raw patties on their own, pre-cooked patties, or a complete pre-cooked hamburger sandwich.
I’ve previously tried Ball Park, Steak & Shake, Fatburger, White Castle, Advance Pierre, Trader Joe’s “Kobe Style,” some various store brands. None of them really moved me, except the TJ’s “Kobe,” was flavorful and lean. For a heat and eat, if you want to give your kids a burger in a minute, the Ball Park brand ones are pretty good. They have a bit of smoky flavor built in to emulate grilling.
The Trader Joe’s Grass Fed Angus Burger is what I picked up today, four to a package, four to a pound, packaged in twos, $4.99 on sale. So they are “spendy” as are all the ones I have previously mentioned.
Trader Joe’s sets their own product standards and doles out production to contract manufacturers all over the world. Most of the products I’ve purchased from TJs have been ultra-satisfactory, but priced a bit higher than equivalents.
First off, with this product, or any beef, it should not be perceived that the word “Angus” denotes any premium; most of the beef cattle in the US are “Angus” You’ll also occasionally see a label and logo that says “Certified Angus,” and this is merely a marketing term for a collective of growers who raise or purchase cattle that meets their own set of standards.
Should quality be a true concern, you should only look for beef with the USDA grades on them, which are select, choice, or prime. Each of these grades have subgrades. Most grocery beef comes from the choice category. To add to the confusion, the USDA grades are applied to whole carcasses, not to individual cuts.
But we’re talking about burgers, and you won’t see graded ground beef (usually) at the grocery. If you’re feeling finicky, grab graded steaks and have the butcher grind them for you. You’ll be happiest with a blend of 2-3 different cuts. Many people prefer a blend of chuck, brisket and and round. If you want your blend to be a little fattier, substitute short rib or navel cuts. Have them run it through the grinder twice for the right burger texture.
The Trader Joe’s Grass Fed Angus burgers are a product of New Zealand (country of origin of the beef) but processed by a small company in Brooklyn called Papa Pasquale’s (according to the USDA factory number) (pictured below). The patties are an 80/20 blend, and the content listing says “grass fed Angus beef.” Period.
I think you’ll have more favorable results if you thaw these patties. Most raw pre-formed frozen patties have the same instructions, cook on one side til blood comes thru the top side, flip and cook until there is no blood showing.
So I did. I also didn’t season the burger or add condiments. For my own personal taste, this is an excellent burger. Why? It tastes like BEEF. And when/why I say that about meat products, I’m talking about beef (or pork) you ate at somebody’s farm. Chefs call that quality “gaminess,” which has a somewhat undesirable meaning to most of the culture.
But it’s a good word. Beef (and pork) should taste like animals. Most product meat proteins don’t anymore.
But if that taste is your thing, too, you’ll like these burgers. Great flavor, great texture.
Trader Joes Angus Burger Review