I love a good hamburger.
And, from the rash of specialty and boutique burger joints popping up all over the city, so must a lot of you.
After visiting a number of them, though, I have to say that burgers formed by hand and cooked over hardwood charcoal on my grill at home are by far my favorite.
To start, I’ve been a fan of the burgers at the Vortex
for a number of years now. I wouldn’t so much call them “boutique” but I would say they’ve made a careful and successful study of the burger. And they do it well. Plus, eating a juicy, greasy burger surrounded by sordid pictures of half-naked women is always a plus. Oh, and their fried pickled jalapeno peppers are to die for. Of the burger joints in town, I’d have to say that flavor-wise this is by far my favorite.
, a franchised build-your-own burger joint that started in California (I think) in 2003 opened their only Georgia location here in Roswell a couple of years ago. It was the first exposure I’d had to the build-you-own concept (well, besides Fuddruckers
, but that doesn’t really count) that has taken the world of burgerdom by storm, and I thought it was pretty cool. Whole wheat or white bun? Whole wheat, please. Extra toppings? Avocado is always a nice addition. Beef, chicken, turkey or veggie (all with claims of being hormone and antibiotic free and humanely raised and handled) on a bun or in a bowl? The combinations and permutations are too many to number. However, the newness quickly wore off and it became just another burger joint. The service might have had something to do with it (not the best I’ve encountered, and I gave them more than one chance).
Recently I had a chance to try Farm Burger
in Decatur. I’d read the glowing reviews and was looking forward to a truly remarkable experience. I ordered my burger medium and kept the toppings simple – lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, mustard and mayo. I am usually a fan of cheese on my burger, but I wanted to taste the grass-fed beef in all it’s glory. Unfortunately, it didn’t have much flavor. It was very tender and juicy, but the flavor just wasn’t what I wanted it to be – I don’t know if it’s because it wasn’t seasoned well, or if their grill wasn’t hot enough, or what. Suffice it to say, I was disappointed.
Today for lunch, I visited Yeah! Burger
in Westside. I planned to get a beef burger, but when I saw that all of their burgers are cooked medium-well, I changed my mind and got the veggie instead. I have a thing about overcooked burgers, and in my opinion medium-well is overdone. And I don’t really understand the policy – if you pride yourself on serving only the best grass-fed organic or natural meat, shouldn’t you be confident enough to serve it cooked to order? I don’t appreciate not being able to order my patty cooked the way I like it. Luckily, the veggie burger, made with organic Sea Island red peas, kept me interested – and the buns were excellent. The fries were alright, but the buttermilk onion rings were some of the best I’ve tasted in a while.
All of this to say, I have yet to encounter a burger at a restaurant that rivals a home-grilled burger. There’s certainly something to be said for restaurants that are supporting local and sustainable food sources, but if the end product doesn’t shine then their only redeeming qualities are their politically correct and socially conscious practices. And while that’s important, it isn’t the only thing that matters in the world of food. I, too, can source locally and humanely raised beef. And if I can grind it and cook it to order, then that’s much more attractive than having someone dictate how it should be cooked, or running the risk of it lacking flavor because the grill is underheated or underseasoned.
What are your thoughts on the current burger craze? Are you a fan of the “home burger”, or do you prefer to frequent your local burger joint? Inquiring minds want to know!