Archive for the ‘Hamburgers’ Category
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
It’s rather time and labor intensive – I buy bulk ground beef, shape, shape it into patties of a uniform size and weight, but them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet in the freezer, then, when they are frozen (generally over night), I cut the parchment holding the patties into individual sizes, put them in freezer bags, and take one out at a time when I crave one.
The genius folks at HomeBeck have eliminated most of my work with their new “Burger Master,” a silicone mold that shapes, portions and freezes the burgers all in one operation. Boy, does it save me a lot of work!
I just put the ground beef in the mold, close the cover, freeze, and the burger patties are ready to go on demand!
The silicone Burger Master is BPA free, 100% food grade, and dishwasher safe, though a quick soapy wash in the sink cleans it easily, too.
Not in the mood for burgers? You can use the tool to make individual servings of soup, chili, hashbrowns or other foods, which is perfect for one of my personal favorite dishes, a unique concoction they dreamed up in Springfield, IL, the “Horseshoe.”
The Horseshoe is a piece of toast, topped with burger, hashbrowns and smothered in gravy or cheese sauce, and I can have servings ready to cook with the Burger Master – with a meat patty, molded hashbrowns and gravy portion ready to toss in the skillet in an instant! Just add toast! (Pictured).
If you’re so inclined, you can even make your patties different shapes to fit the molds. This is also perfect for seasoned patties or home made Juicy Lucys or other stuffed burgers! Just by using this with plain ground beef, you’ll save a lot of money over purchasing frozen or fresh pre-formed patties.
HomeBeck supplied me with the product to try out, and I have to say, I’m pretty pleased, and will find many uses for it. Get yours on Amazon.
HomeBeck Burgermaster Review
A mere 8.5 miles SE of the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot, there’s a joint that’s serving up a fully-disclosed menu which provides for no mystery at all, ‘cepting how food can be so damned delicious!
Bay Area burger reporter GL and her burger posse stopped in at Burger to sample the wares on a recent Friday nite. This is a second location for these guys, the original is a tad north in Santa Cruz.
Burger is all about being locavore whenever possible, with a solid commitment to sustainability as well.
The sustainability extends to providing one of the highest quality and widest varieties of burgers in the Santa Cruz area.
All burgers are served medium well. and dressed with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and special house sauce. choice of Humboldt grass-fed beef, Diestel turkey patty or our House Made veggie patty. Burgers are served with a sampling of shoestring fries, or slaw.
Taking a cue from various other venues, Burger has a menu which attaches celebrity names to certain combinations, like the “Hank Williams Sr” (onion, rings, bacon, cheddar cheese, bbq sauce) or the “Marilyn Monroe” ( topped with artichoke hearts and aioli).
I know I’d like the “Jake Blues”, topped with blue cheese, bacon, and aioli.
GL and the gang opted for the “Kobe” sliders, 3 patties on sweet buns on a bed of tots for $11. No, I’m not going into my entire Kobe rant at this time, you can read that in plenty of other posts on this site!
GL could only polish off two of the sliders, because although she has a large appetite for life, she eats (and sings) like a bird.
Beer and food menu are online.
Burger Aptos Review
I like stumbling across (still) prosperous small towns. 30 miles east of Rockford, IL, and 40 miles west of Chicago’s O’Hare airport, you’ll find the burg of Marengo, established in the mid 1800s as a regional commerce center for the surrounding farmers.
Original industries included a flour mill, carriage factory, and a quarry. A lot of the original buildings, built with stones from the quarry, are still standing and have been restored, lining both sides of a short main street “strip.”
Today, the town of 7500 stands out among its peers, with a commerce area still full of stores, including locally owned drug stores and banks, as well as (I was surprised) 7 eateries in a two block stretch. Median house value is $169,000, and you can spend as little as $40,000 on a house, or a cool million for an equestrian estate.
Per SF prices is a very economical $87.
Marengo is about 5 miles north of Interstate 90, perched on US 20, which runs from Boston to the Pacific Ocean. It’s one of the few US highways I haven’t traversed, I’ll have to put it on my “to do” list. (Location map below).
One of the main street eateries is “The Spot,” (Facebook page) a bar (we sometimes refer to them as “taverns” in the Upper Midwest), with a very short menu that’s long on burgers.
I had been by a couple times over the past few years and not found it open, but scored today. Burgers are hand-formed, three quarter pound (!!!!) patties, mildly seasoned, on substantial buns, and come with chips. There’s a wide choice of add-on sides, including hand cut fries, beer battered rings, and tots.
I opted for the “regular” burger, which comes dressed with mustard, ketchup, onion, pickle, lettuce and tomato. The amiable staff can be quite accommodating about one’s desires to customize the sandwich, judging from the requests I overheard.
Of course, food is cooked to order, and it’s a smaller kitchen, so it can take a little bit of time, but I imagine most folks in Marengo aren’t in too much of a hurry.
It’s a great burger, cooked to your specifications. The hand breaded rings, with a hint of beer taste, were huge, crisp, and excellent. Worth the drive, worth the wait, and with low prices you won’t believe. I actually asked the waitress if she undercharged me (it’s been known to happen, I’m so fuckin’ charming).
On a previous run through town, I tried a joint down the street, the Marengo Cafe. While they have a much wider choice of menu selections, if it’s a burger you’re after, “The Spot” will hit the spot. (You knew that was coming)!
My “beef” with all this food is primarily its value proposition, as well as the manner in which its preparation is marketed (previously discussed). Last night I tried their cheeseburger, hot and ready to go after 11AM at $3.49 a pop. I wish there were Federal regulations about posting contents and nutritional agreements on fast food containers, but unfortunately there are not. So I have no idea what this burger patty is made out of, or its calorie, carb, and fat content.
I’ve looked at an awful lot of heat and eat burgers over the years, including Steak n Shake (awful), White Castle (pretty faithful to the restaurant product), AM/PM Gas Stations, Big A Cheeseburgers, RaceTrac gas stations, Walgreens, Dollar Tree, Ball Park brand in the grocery, others.
I’m not going to bother to rank them, if you like this kind of food, they all have some redeeming qualities. For taste, texture, I like the Ball Park, for value, anything that’s a buck.
Thornton’s cheeseburger comes on a “bakery roll,” (one of those bakery marketing phrases that has lost all meaning, like “hard rolls,” or “kaiser rolls).” No standardization. Anyway, to me, the bun has a darker color and a little bit of a sweeter taste, like a brioche. The beef patty’s texture is ok, it’s made to look like it’s a hand formed patty (there are factory machines that make patties with this type of appearance), and it has been given a squirt or dash of liquid smoke or its equivalent to give the impression of a grill taste.
Verdict? It’s Ok. As I have opined on their other offerings, their food products are not a very good value compared to other available choices. And for some unknown reason, these guys put the cheese on the bottom. Some “celebrity” chefs have been crowing about this method lately, to maximize the separate tastes on your buds, in a particular order. Yawn. Don’t even get me started on Umami joke.
Thorntons Gas Station Food Review
Americans have been in love with burgers arguably since the first fast food chain (White Castle) launched in the 1920s, but the current infatuation is thought to have come to the forefront around 2011.
There are several theories as to why the burger business amped up at that point in time, but many feel it was the result of a tough time in the economy – people wanted their beef quotient but at the time, couldn’t justify buying steak.
But 20 years earlier, Joseph DeVito imagined his own burger paradise, and at the age of 18, started Busy Burger near the University of Chicago campus. His concept was simple: produce a quality product, cooked to order, at a great value, and the business will prosper. He was right, of course.
Since DeVito launched Busy, a plethora of “gourmet” burger chains have popped up around the U.S. Many of them have no more to offer than any other chain, other than slick marketing or gimmicks (“our beef comes from cows who are only fed M&Ms by the light of the full moon!”). Some chains are amazingly silly (“we’re gonna charge twice as much for a product half the weight and you’ll love us”).
In 2015 DeVito thought Busy could use an update, so he remodeled, got a new logo, added a few new items to the menu to satisfy the changing tastes of consumers, and developed a state of the industry customer service program for the employees.
DeVito’s people invited me to stop by and try out a burger or two. Of course, I immediately beat a path to the shop, as burgers are my life. I ordered, and the food was quickly prepared and delivered. And I’m looking at it, and a thought comes to mind.
There are a lot of burger eaters in the US that feel that the West Coast chain “In N Out” sets the standard for quality burgers. I’ve personally never felt that way, and after the first bite of my Busy Burger (beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, spicy busy sauce, American cheese on a butter toasted bun), I thought, “Holy moly, this is what In N Out would be like if their burgers were actually GOOD!”
Cause you see, for me, if a burger patty can’t stand on its own, what’s the point? And at Busy Burger it does. Fresh natural ground beef, nicely seasoned, hand formed patty, grilled and not fried, the Busy beef patty is a thing of beauty. Topped with amazingly fresh chopped vegetables, it becomes a work of art. I like to take a couple bites of the entire sandwich, then make my way through the individual ingredients. The spicy sauce is unique and flavorful, not the same old thing, and I loved the pickle chips which are reminiscent of a traditional half sour dill. (Half sours are tangy, crispy and with lower salt than traditional hamburger dills).
I loved the Busy Burger. I opted for a side of rings, which were great, nice breading, not greasy, substantial whole onion inside, and at the table we also had a fully loaded Chicago style hot dog (yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt), fresh cut fries, and a vanilla shake.
The dog matched or surpasses anybody’s in the city, and the fresh cut fries are over the top delicious, hot, crispy, slightly seasoned. One of Chicago’s television stations took a peek behind the scenes at Busy and learned some of the secrets to making their excellent patties.
Busy Burger is located at 1120 West Taylor Street in Chicago, easily accessible from downtown and major freeways (see map below). Trust me, it’s worth a stop.I’ve posted their full menu, and if you’re in the immediate area, you can order online from GrubHub.
Beyond being identified as an official state food, the actual ‘birthplace’ is subject to dispute, with two different bars on the bar south side of Minneapolis claiming to have originated the sandwich: Matt’s Bar, and the 5-8 Club, which are pretty close together.
Matt’s goes with the “Jucy” spelling and the 5-8 tags theirs as “Juicy.” Another significant difference is at the 5-8, you can have your choice of cheese, and at our table, at one of the suburban locations (5-8 has four outlets now), one opted for Pepperjack, and I went for blue.
We rolled in to the 5-8’s Champlain location on a Sunday just after opening bell, and there weren’t many patrons, but it was jammed by the time we left, even tho it wasn’t a big tv sports day.
Full disclosure, I was last in Matt’s about 30 years ago, my memory is that it was a damn fine burger.
5-8, despite their notoriety, was a different experience all together. Service was inattentive, the food took a long time, and it was nothing to write home (or here) about, but I am anyway. Below you’ll see a pic of my Juicy bisected, without a hope of oozing cheese. Fries were ok, rings were ok, slaw might as well have been from a food service company.
Many the burgers are different at the original location, one hopes not.
“We report, you decide.” Here’s Matt’s menu, and the 5-8’s. The map below shows the location of both Matt’s and the 5-8, just north of the Minneapolis St Paul airport and the Mall of America (shudder).
5-8 Club Juicy Lucy Review
New Mexico’s ubiquitous burger is the Green Chili Cheese variety. It’s everywhere, as green chilis are a mainstay of New Mexico’s agricultural crop.
Extending past burgers, you can find green chilis on just about every type of food you can imagine.
Blake’s Lotaburger is a New Mexican burger chain, which, like the green chili, appears all over the state, and claims to be famous near and wide for the green chili cheeseburger. We stopped at location in Deming, just off 1-10, a relatively spanking new location. Blake’s has 70 some other locations across the state, and started in 1952.
We arrived just before closing (9P!) and were one of only two customers. Ordered the green chili cheeseburger and a side of chili fries. Blake’s cooks to order, and even at this time of night, with a few customers, it took “awhile” to receive our food. Was the wait worth it? Definitely yes. The first thing you will notice about a Lotaburger is the soft, oversized bun. Secondly, Lotaburger puts its chili and cheese on top of the patty, and the vegetable condiments, neath the meat. So your first bites tastes senses are bun, chili, cheese, meat.
Just like I said the other day that an avocado burger wouldn’t be my first choice, neither would a green chili, but I get the attraction of this flavor now. Like the avocado a couple days before, the green chilis add a smoothie creaminess to a burger, packed with flavor, but without pepper “heat.” Blake’s does an admiral job. The chili cheese fries were tasty enough, but could have been served anywhere. Maybe green chili fries should be on offer?
Pulling into Roswell, later the next afternoon, hoping to be abducted by aliens hiding amongst the local populace, or at least trying to find some place that served an “Alien Burger”, I came up bupkis, and pulled into the Cowboy Cafe, an interesting looking place that served “homestyle cookin’.”
The weathered sign on the building and a full parking lot showed lots of promise. Entering a crowded room, I noticed quickly there were no seats, sans a table for 8 in the back. I sat on a chair by the register, and three different employees greeted me and asked if I wanted a tea while I was waiting.
And elderly couple walked in, and the manager asked if they would mind sitting at a “community table”. They said no, but that I was in line ahead of them. So after a moment’s discussion between all parties, I joined the community table as well.
Would have been nice if we were eventually joined by locals there, but such was not to be the case. I would have like to have asked a few questions to some extra-terrestrials. The elderly couple didn’t count, they were just out doing an annual RV pilgrimage. Like many couples together for a long time, they had developed a certain communicative/non-communicative posture, both with themselves and those around them. All I could glean was they were from Colorado, had a son in Portland, like birds, and like the nature hikes in this area. He ordered a tuna sandwich on white toast (“it has too much mayo and the toast is too dark!”), she a chicken breast something with a side of chopped green chili peppers (fifty cents) (“the chilis don’t have much flavor, they must be canned!”). (Did I say they were from Colorado, cause they sounded Long Island).
I went with the green chili cheeseburger of course, but while waiting, noted the special of the day was catfish and hush puppies, darn! But I would be in catfish country soon enough.
The burger was good, and definitely home-style, but lacked the mess o vegetables that Blake’s had, which ordinarily wouldn’t be a problem, but I could immediately see what they added to the experience.
This is a great place, the typical “blue plate” lunch establishment, it would be fun to explore the menu further, with an alien in tow.
Since Blake’s are everywhere in NM, I have only included a map to the Cowboy Cafe.
View Larger Map
Green Chili Cheeseburgers Review
I try and say something positive in every review I post. Even if something went wrong, or I don’t like something, I still try and remember to say “while this isn’t to my preference, you may enjoy it.”
Such is the case at Culver’s today, “Home of the Butterburger,” a Wisconsin-based regional burger and custard franchise. In addition to the standard burger type menu,they also have sandwiches, daily soups, and plate dinners.
I’ve had plenty of good grub there in the past, no denying that. I adore the crinkle fries, and the burgers are top-notch for fast food. Culver’s prepares your food to order, so there’s always a bit of a wait, but if you’re dining in, they’ll tote your tray to the table when it’s ready.
Once a year, for a limited time, they feature a popular fish in the Midwest, walleye pike, on a sandwich or plate. The walleye isn’t really in the pike family, it’s more closely related to perch, but Minnesotans at least, some Wisconsinites, other Midwesterners and Canadians consider walleye to be the filet mignon of freshwater eating fish. The filets are ample-sized, generally boneless, and the meat is light and flakey. It’s good sauteed in a cast iron pan over a campfire, pan fried with breading, or broiled. You can even find walleye bites in some restaurants.
Walleye is the state fish of Minnesota, Vermont and South Dakota. They grow up to 20 pounds, and anglers enjoy their ‘fight.’
So my sister, who lives in a Culver’s city 500 miles away from me, looks forward to walleye season with a great deal of anticipation. I admit, I was looking forward to it as well. During Lent, there’s a plethora of fish options in fast food and fast casual restaurants, and some of them are very good, and a good value.
Oh how I wish I could say the same about Culver’s walleye. I emailed my sister a few days ago and asked if she had partaken yet this year. She said she had, the previous week, but it was a horrible experience, everything was so greasy, the bun didn’t even survive half the meal. And I thought, “well, that’s too bad, probably a new guy on the fry basket or something.”
So I stopped at one today, ordered the sandwich and crinkle cut fries to go, the sandwich alone is $5.49, but walleye is expensive, and it’s not farm raised like catsfish or tilapia. Most restaurant walleye in the US comes from lakes in northern Canada. (I hope they don’t get any ideas and build a wall)!
But alas, my sandwich and bun was very greasy as well. While the fish flesh tasted good, the breading had no seasoning and was falling off the filet in chunks, not a good sign. I set the bun aside (it comes with shredded lettuce and mayo), and ate the fish with my hands.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll go back to Culver’s, but if I want fast food fish in the future, I’ll get it elsewhere. Here’s the http://www.culvers.com/menu-and-nutrition. I recommend the pot roast.
Culvers Walleye Sandwich
Culvers Walleye Sandwich Review