June Burger Club Meeting at Shake Shack

In June we had our Burger Club meeting at Shake Shack (2000 Sansom St). Shake Shack is kinda like the In-N-out burger of the east coast; they have fast food burgers that actually have a very good quality meat. I have mentioned before that Pat LaFrieda is a pretty big deal in Philly – those that love burgers love the name. Pat supplies the meat to many of Philly’s famous burger spots (Pub & Kitchen, Sketch, Supper, Butcher & Singer and Frankford Hall) including the Shake Shack! Suffice it to say that Shake Shack was a pretty big deal when they expanded to our city from New York a year ago – can’t believe it almost took a whole year for the Club to have a meeting there!

We were greeted with the usual long but speedy line that seems to be a constant at the Shake Shack. Their wall-sized menu is a nice way for everyone to figure out what they want before they get to the register – which I’m sure is why the queue goes so fast.

The last time I was at SS I got the “ShackBurger” which is their traditional burger with LT and their “ShackSauce”. To be honest I wasn’t so impressed by it last time and I think that’s why it has kept me away for a whole year. It was just nothing special. THIS TIME though, I ordered a double Hamburger with cheese. Funny how the simple things are the best. I loved it! The cheese was super melty delicious and hot! The double patty really allowed me to appreciate the meat – I vow to never order a single again at the SS. As compared to places like Five Guys and Bobby’s Burger Palace I would say the Shake Shack burger definitely stacks up. I would put it at the top of the “fast food” list for sure – especially if you’re looking for a cool tasty milkshake, that’s what they’re named for after-all.

I would like to make a special point of saying that the manager Lauren was AWESOME. Sometimes restaurants have a hard time when the Club comes to their spot (even with MONTHS of notice). Lauren greeted our crowd with some reserved tables and a lot of hospitality. Coming around to our tables after we finished to see how we enjoyed ourselves was truly a nice touch. I always appreciate it when a place makes us feel welcomed because every once in a while we go to a restaurant that makes it clear that we’re not wanted. So THANKS! We had an awesome time and can’t wait to come again!

PSA: How to NOT ruin your holiday BBQ

At the burger club we’re mostly about trying other people’s burgers – though we’re no stranger to firing up the grill ourselves. It’s that time of year where I like to make a post about DIY burgers. Last year I focused on burger toppings, this year I’d like to take a moment to talk about proper grilling techniques.

Our friends over at JES Restaurant Equipment passed along this handy infographic about how to be a grilling HERO at your next backyard BBQ. Follow these tips the next time you’re grilling for a crowd!

There you have it! Be sure to pass along your grilling experiences to us and we’ll write about it on the blog!

Event notice: 2nd Annual Wilmington Burger Battle

Check out our post about the Wilmington Burger Battle last year!!

WHAT: 2nd Annual Wilmington Burger Battle, presented by the Kenny Family Foundation
WHEN: Saturday, August 24, 2013, 12-4pm
WHERE: Twin Lakes Brewing Co., 4210 Kennett Pike, Greenville, Delaware 19807
TICKETS: http://wilmingtonburgerbattle.brownpapertickets.com/
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.wilmingtonburgerbattle.com or ucgcharities@gmail.com

Wilmington Burger Battle Returns for Round Two
Second Annual August Food Tasting Event Benefits Ministry of Caring’s Emmanuel Dining Room

The Second Annual Wilmington Burger Battle, presented by the Kenny Family Foundation, will take place on Saturday, August 24, 2013, 12–4pm at Twin Lakes Brewing Company, 4210 Kennett Pike, Greenville, Delaware. Restaurants in the greater Wilmington area—to date that list includes 2 FatGuys, BBC Tavern and Grill, Catherine Rooney’s (Newark), Ernest & Scott Taproom, Home Grown Café, Restaurant 55, Redfire Grill Steakhouse and last year’s People’s Choice Burger winner, Union City Grille—will throw down again at this outdoor, rain-or-shine charity event. Event proceeds will support the Ministry of Caring’s Emmanuel Dining Room. Admission prices include food, beer tastings, soft drinks, and music; tickets to this limited-capacity tasting event are now available at http://wilmingtonburgerbattle.brownpapertickets.com/.

Heather Hook, Executive Director of the Kenny Family Foundation said, ‘We are really proud and excited to be part of the Wilmington Burger Battle supporting the Ministry of Caring. The Ministry of Caring has done so much for the people of Wilmington and we continue to support all of their efforts any way we can.” The Kenny Family Foundation is the Wilmington Burger Battle’s first-ever naming sponsor.

Event co-founder Matthew Curtis, Chef/Owner of Union City Grille, who took home a trophy in 2012, said, “I am counting the days until I can gather with many of my restaurant industry colleagues for some good-natured competition. It’s a great way to end the summer…a family-friendly outdoor event that reminds all those returning from summer travel of the culinary gems they have here at home.”

Over 400 people attended the 2012 event to place their votes for People’s Choice Burger, and the event raised over $4000 to fight hunger. Three Delaware sports legends gave their palates a workout, serving as “Delebrity” judges to taste 18 burgers! They ultimately declared Kildare’s Irish Pub’s burger their favorite.

The Twin Lakes farm in Greenville has again agreed to serve as the venue and event proceeds will continue to support the Ministry of Caring’s Emmanuel Dining Room, which helps alleviate the immediate needs of Delaware’s hungry with over 180,000 nutritious meals served at no cost and with no questions asked.

Battle co-founder JulieAnne Cross noted, “It’s hard to top a success like last year, but we are going to try. We have at least one restaurant coming from over an hour away to join the Battle!” She adds, “We would be thrilled to double our 2012 donation to the Ministry of Caring, so that the Emmanuel Dining Room’s impact on Delaware’s hungry can be even larger.”

In addition to the Kenny Family Foundation, the Wilmington Burger Battle is also sponsored by Out & About Magazine, and free + abel.
Restaurants are encouraged to contact ucgcharities@gmail.com for more information. For information about the event, visit www.wilmingtonburgerbattle.com.

Event notice: 2nd Annual Wilmington Burger Battle

Check out our post about the Wilmington Burger Battle last year!!

WHAT: 2nd Annual Wilmington Burger Battle, presented by the Kenny Family Foundation
WHEN: Saturday, August 24, 2013, 12-4pm
WHERE: Twin Lakes Brewing Co., 4210 Kennett Pike, Greenville, Delaware 19807
TICKETS: http://wilmingtonburgerbattle.brownpapertickets.com/
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.wilmingtonburgerbattle.com or ucgcharities@gmail.com

Wilmington Burger Battle Returns for Round Two
Second Annual August Food Tasting Event Benefits Ministry of Caring’s Emmanuel Dining Room

The Second Annual Wilmington Burger Battle, presented by the Kenny Family Foundation, will take place on Saturday, August 24, 2013, 12–4pm at Twin Lakes Brewing Company, 4210 Kennett Pike, Greenville, Delaware. Restaurants in the greater Wilmington area—to date that list includes 2 FatGuys, BBC Tavern and Grill, Catherine Rooney’s (Newark), Ernest & Scott Taproom, Home Grown Café, Restaurant 55, Redfire Grill Steakhouse and last year’s People’s Choice Burger winner, Union City Grille—will throw down again at this outdoor, rain-or-shine charity event. Event proceeds will support the Ministry of Caring’s Emmanuel Dining Room. Admission prices include food, beer tastings, soft drinks, and music; tickets to this limited-capacity tasting event are now available at http://wilmingtonburgerbattle.brownpapertickets.com/.

Heather Hook, Executive Director of the Kenny Family Foundation said, ‘We are really proud and excited to be part of the Wilmington Burger Battle supporting the Ministry of Caring. The Ministry of Caring has done so much for the people of Wilmington and we continue to support all of their efforts any way we can.” The Kenny Family Foundation is the Wilmington Burger Battle’s first-ever naming sponsor.

Event co-founder Matthew Curtis, Chef/Owner of Union City Grille, who took home a trophy in 2012, said, “I am counting the days until I can gather with many of my restaurant industry colleagues for some good-natured competition. It’s a great way to end the summer…a family-friendly outdoor event that reminds all those returning from summer travel of the culinary gems they have here at home.”

Over 400 people attended the 2012 event to place their votes for People’s Choice Burger, and the event raised over $4000 to fight hunger. Three Delaware sports legends gave their palates a workout, serving as “Delebrity” judges to taste 18 burgers! They ultimately declared Kildare’s Irish Pub’s burger their favorite.

The Twin Lakes farm in Greenville has again agreed to serve as the venue and event proceeds will continue to support the Ministry of Caring’s Emmanuel Dining Room, which helps alleviate the immediate needs of Delaware’s hungry with over 180,000 nutritious meals served at no cost and with no questions asked.

Battle co-founder JulieAnne Cross noted, “It’s hard to top a success like last year, but we are going to try. We have at least one restaurant coming from over an hour away to join the Battle!” She adds, “We would be thrilled to double our 2012 donation to the Ministry of Caring, so that the Emmanuel Dining Room’s impact on Delaware’s hungry can be even larger.”

In addition to the Kenny Family Foundation, the Wilmington Burger Battle is also sponsored by Out & About Magazine, and free + abel.
Restaurants are encouraged to contact ucgcharities@gmail.com for more information. For information about the event, visit www.wilmingtonburgerbattle.com.

Our two year anniversary party is almost here!

It is with great anticipation that I encourage everyone to attend our TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY PARTY/burger club meeting next week (5/29) at 10 arts bistro (10 S Broad St)! At the meeting will be burgers, which you have come to expect and SO MUCH MORE! Our friends at Vlahos Public Relations have scored us a SIGNED copy of Rachael Ray’s burger cook book! Also there will be a gift card to 10 arts bistro and a few little burger club things to raffle off! This is going to be pretty neat! I really hope so many of the Club’s new and old friends stop by! In addition to all the coolness 10 arts is extending two specials to our group – a Burger and a cocktail for $25 or a Burger and a Yards Brawler for $20.

Oh, there also might be members of the press there too! Wear your best (at least clean) duds and get ready to chow down! The current burger is the 10 Arts Philabundance Cheeseburger, aged brisket, sharp cheddar, lettuce, pickles, tomato, onion, mustard and house-made ketchup

In addition to the AWESOME news about our big 2 year anniversary party I would like to pass along this interesting article about the man who rescued the three women who were kidnapped. Turns out one of his big rewards is free burgers for life! Just another reason for you all to stay alert – maybe your next good deed can be rewarded with burgers too!

January 2013: City Tap House

We’ve skipped a Burger Club meeting or two in the past due to the fact that the meetings were held at restaurants we’ve been to before (does anyone else do this, or we are just slackers?).  This month, we faced the same problem;  however, we’d never tried the burgers at City Tap House, so felt the trip was well worth it. Besides, we work nearby and honestly, it hurts us to miss out on seeing all of you burger-y friends!  For those of you who haven’t visited (and missed the meeting), City Tap House is a serious food and drink mecca.  To start, it’s enormous, with several different dining areas, including the best outdoor seating in the city (although that is really only open during the summer months).  On top of that, the menus are extensive on both the solid and liquid sides, with constant special events and a number of private parties daily.  It’s just a cool place.

Source

The menu includes three burgers, a good variety for different tastes.  The overwhelming choice of our group was The Tap Burger ($14 but since we’re special, we were graciously granted 20% off).  Described on the menu as being served with “crispy pork belly, lancaster cheddar, agrodolce onions, beer gastrique, dijonaise,” the all beef burger sounds too good to be true.  So many toppings! Lots of great flavors! Meat on meat!  Alas, the description certainly oversold the burger.

The first problem was the bun: a bit too big and bready.  We’ve been spoiled by many brioche burger buns, whose buttery texture retains lots of moisture and doesn’t crumble.  Regular buns have a much dryer crumb and tend to fill up/dry out your mouth if you take a large bite (jeez, we’re picky).

The meat itself was well-cooked but not particularly flavorful- again, we’re just spoiled with great meat options in this city, a little ground brisket here, a little bacon mixed in there.  A small square of pork belly didn’t cover the entire patty, and was a little bit dry and chewy.  Overall, the burger didn’t fare well in Burger Club ratings, with overall scores averaging just a 2.86/5 in the Taste category.

The second option on the menu is the Free Range PA Turkey Burger– which, as noted on the menu, has by one source or another been named Best of Philly ($14).  This burger again has a stellar list of accompaniments: avocado, brie, curry dijon aioli, lettuce, and tomato.  We didn’t try this burger but were able to snap some pics and get an opinion or two.  Our resident non-meat-eater (hi Megan!) claimed it was very salty, overpowering the toppings.  We didn’t hear from anyone else who ate it– love to get opinions from more of you!

I truly believe we would have left as a group of happier eaters if everyone had ordered the third and final option: the Lamb Burger ($15).  The novelty of a lamb patty helped make the meat super flavorful, with a good char and a soft pink center.  The bun had sesame seeds, lending flavor to the mix even though it was still a bit too big and dry.

The toppings were a wonderful mix– actually proving the opposite effect as the other two burgers, as they were executed in a way that made them even better than they sounded on paper.  Fennel salad (with radishes and arugula), smoked paprika aioli, kalamata olives, and feta yogurt- lots of Mediterranean flavors that provided much needed moisture (to counter that bun), coolness, and a good mix of textures.

I would absolutely revisit Tap House just for this burger- it was wonderful.  The side of fries was also just fine- hot and crispy, and a generous portion.  Our first meeting of 2013 may not have found us the best burger in the city, but it was absolutely a success– tons of new faces, a fun spot, and an unexpectedly great lamb sandwich.  And, the great thing about Burger Club, you always know another meeting is just around the corner!

Burger Toppings

This week I’d like to take a moment to discuss a topic that doesn’t get a lot of attention – burger toppings. We here at the burger club take toppings VERY seriously, it’s one of the main factors that we vote on to determine the value of a burger. Toppings can range from predictable to outrageous and everything in-between. For a restaurant that might want to try out a new burger, trying to decide what kind of toppings to offer may be harder than one might expect. Do you offer a bunch of options like cheeburger cheeburger (pictured below)? Or do YOU determine the combination and theme for the customer? There are almost too many options!

When I’m looking at a menu the burger toppings are what I think of first in my mind (and in my mouth). Am I going for a meat on meat? Do I want a lot of cheese? Would I rather something light and natural to balance out the fatty mcfatterson burger? There are just so many different combinations, it’s important not to get into a rut of only ordering the same toppings all the time.

When I was a bit younger I would exclusively opt for a bacon & blue cheese burger wherever I went. Lately I’ve been much more interested in the variety of toppings that this burger world has to offer. Lately I have seen many places (Spiga, Red Owl, PYT) making VERY sweet topping combinations. The house burger at Red Owl (pictured at left) is so sweet it even has raisins in it. Many folks from the burger club found the sweetness of this burger to be too much, but I think they need to just open their minds (and hearts) a little. The sweet topping from Spiga consists of an onion Mostarda which is so nicely paired with herbed goat cheese and applewood smoked bacon. I found this flavor palette to be near perfect. The sweet, salty, creamy topping paired with the richness of the burger is simply unbeatable, IMO. I see this sweet topping trend to be something we’re going to see a lot more of in the future, but is the American public ready for it??

I studied abroad in Sydney, AU and while they don’t really seem to have a national food or style of cooking (other than BBQ) they did put a little twist on the classic burger that I haven’t found anywhere else. I’m sure other parts of the world do this but I haven’t found it – they put a big slice of beetroot on their burgers. I know what you’re thinking “EWWWWW BEETS????” but let me tell you, once you’ve gotten over the idea of it you’ll want it on every burger ever. The beet has this rich, sweet, subtle flavor that compliments the meat in the best possible way. I wish some American burger joints would try this out.

Lastly I’d like to pass along a little vote from the burger club about toppings. I only proposed the question to the group YESTERDAY but I think their findings are nevertheless important. Apparently everyone likes cheese. Duh.

I hope that in the future we see many more creative burger combinations of toppings. I think this is what will really bring the burger into another category of food. Many posts ago (after a burger & wine tasting event) I prophesized that the burger is becoming the new “it” thing, more of a luxury item than it ever has been – and I think that with the new trend in toppings this is becoming more of a reality. I hope to see more of this and one day the BURGER will rule all! Till then, my burger friends!

What is the burger club?

Recently I was asked how Burger Club fits into urban life. A huge smile came to my face and I simply responded, “We ARE urban life,” and I’d like to take a moment to really flesh that out – for everyone. I was raised in the suburbs, went to college in the suburbs, and after I graduated I decided that I wanted to live in the city. I’m not alone in this, I think that a lot of young people take this route after college. I wanted to be “where the action is” and no one can argue that the city has a lot of action. To be a true urbanite, one must fully delve into what makes living in the city different from living anywhere else. It’s important to experience all facets of city life, like going to concerts and performances, talking to neighbors, seeing the sights, knowing the streets and MOST IMPORTANTLY eating the food! That’s where we come in.

The Burger Club meets the last Wednesday of every month at a different place in Philly famous for burgers. Sometimes we go to big name Center City meccas. Other times we squeeze ourselves into tiny back street bistros. The one thing that never changes is that we always have a good time. We exemplify what it means to “eat, drink and be merry”. Often times the same people come every month. Sometimes we meet new friends. Members are not expected to come to every meeting, and returning after a hiatus offers a feeling as if no time has passed at all.

The best thing about Burger Club is there’s an easy topic of conversation that everyone can appreciate – burgers. There’s not too much awkward silence between new acquaintances because they’re talking about what kind of cheese they like best on a burger and if the one they’re eating is cooked to the right temperature. There are no rules or dues, every member is simply expected to come to a meeting if so desired and enjoy themselves. We exist to have fun and we have fun through eating burgers.

Join the Club – Don’t be this guy

I always felt a little silly telling people I’m part of the “burger club,” but once I explain what we do the conversation usually ends up with “how do I join?”. The Burger Club is great for people new to the city because everyone’s welcoming and eager to meet others who share their interest of burgers. The Club is also great for people who have lived in the city for a long time who like to meet up with old friends and enjoy a good meal and maybe explore parts of the city they haven’t given much thought to. I don’t know how much closer to a definition to “urban living” you can get.

Burger News 11/16/2012

Good burger day everyone!

Last week’s burger club meeting was amazing. We have a newly voted #1 burger – that which is from Hickory Lane (2025 Fairmount Ave)! This burger was some serious business and I implore you to go try it. The cheese.. the meat.. the bun. It was all too perfect. This is a serious burger and should be seriously considered. I feel like it has been under my radar for too long! I’m so happy that the club was able to enjoy it!

Did you hear that at the end of the month we’re having our burger club meeting at Spiga? “What’s Spiga?” you might say.. well it’s a newish Italian restaurant at the corner of 13th and Locust. This whole corner of Philly has undergone a DRASTIC change from yesteryear. You know what I’m talking about. The once seedy corner has done a 180 thanks to the folks from Green Eggs Café and Spiga. Now you may be asking yourself “a burger.. from an Italian restaurant?” it’s just an unexplainable phenomena that can only be resolved by trying the burger. Once this burger hits your lips and the goat cheese and applewood smoked bacon dance around you’ll somehow get it. I did.

Oh and before I forget.. have you heard of BURGERPALOOZA? It’s an all-you-can-eat burger event happening 11/21! Food trucks that will be there: Spot Burgers, Chewys, Street Food Philly and the Moo Truck. This is NOT AN EVENT TO MISS. Obviously these burger trucks know what’s up. You can get your tickets NOW for $29 at any of the participating food trucks (before 11/20). Tickets will be available at the door for $35. Spot burger says this about the event, “Each truck will be offering 3 different 1/4 lb gourmet burger creations, never offered to the public. That’s a dozen different hand-crafted gourmet burger creations. It’s a burger lovers utopia! Yards will be pouring the suds, w/ live music and MORE! Admission, only $35, includes all access pass to ALL U CAN EAT burgers, & 2 drink tickets. Event begins Wednesday November 21, 2012 at Yards Brewery 901 North Delaware Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19123 5-9pm”. Boom. Sounds like a great time. The burger club will be adequately represented. If you’re interested in going with the group, check in on the facebook page to coordinate things.

Alright folks, have a happy holiday! Tell me all about the turkey burgers you make!

Hurricane Sandy can’t wash away our love of Burgers

As you may have heard – there was a hurricane! Sandy slammed the eastern coast and there are many people who are still going through some tough times. The storm forced us to change the date of our burger club meeting from 10/29 to 11/5. We’re still so excited to go to Hickory lane, Sandy can’t wash away our love of Burgers.

All kidding aside, let’s take a moment and give thanks for what we have and how lucky we are. We’re safe, have food, water, power and none of our homes were damaged. There are many Americans who live only a short distance away that aren’t so lucky right now. There are many things you can do to help – The Red Cross is accepting monetary donations and blood donations. Also there are many, many, many other organizations that will put your money to good use. I implore you to do what you can to help.

Till next week, stay safe friends. Much burger love to you all.