October (November?) Meeting: Hickory Lane

Another month, another Burger Club meeting report from Two Eat Philly.  This meeting was supposed to take place at the tail end of October, but- maybe you heard?- we were hit by a hurricane.  However, burger eaters prevailed (in the first few days of November), and we gathered at Hickory Lane, a small restaurant in Fairmount with great views of Eastern State Penitentiary, and just a few blocks from recently-visited Lemon Hill (shameless self promotion here).

We were greeted by personalized menus made just for us- Hickory Lane created a deal that combined a burger and a drink for $18.  The burger alone ran us $15- definitely on the expensive side for this city!  In comparison to many of the other places Burger Club has congregated, Hickory Lane offers a single signature burger- aptly named the “Hickory Burger.” Executive Chef Matt Zagorski spent many years at Rouge, so he certainly has some solid burger-making experience.

The fact that there was only one option made ordering easy.  Our waiter informed us that the patties were being cooked to a medium rare-medium based on chef preference. Fine by us!  It took a little while before plates started coming out of the kitchen, but we understand the art of burger making is a serious one.

the self-described “bad boy”

The thick meat patty is sandwiched between a challah roll, creating some significant height to this sandwich.  Closer inspection revealed a few light char marks on the outside.  A large pile of pommes frites (why does an “American bistro” insist on using the pretentious French name for fries?) came alongside the burger- I had to clear a few from my plate to make room for burger-tackling.  Super fresh and crispy with plenty of peppery skin- the garlic aioli was a fantastic dipping sauce, if not a little on the greasy side.

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Another thing we noticed right away was the thickness of the cheese.  Melted over the burger, an extra-sharp aged white cheddar added a significant amount of flavor and texture.  I know I’m talking about the cheese before I even talk about the meat, but that’s just how good it was.  It was definitely what everyone was exclaiming about the most- the fact that such a high-quality, flavorful cheese is used here, and so much of it!- really created a unique burger experience.

However, I certainly do need to acknowledge the meat.  A “proprietary” blend of three different cuts of beef are exclusively ground by Philadelphia Meat Purveyor Exceptional Foods just for this burger.  I’d say LaFrieda should be watching their backs- they’ve got some serious competition!  The patty was cooked perfectly to create a nice, thin crust surrounding some seriously pink ground beef.  The grind is still recognizable- these guys are getting treated pretty gently on the grill, providing a nice crumble with each bite.  The meat was underseasoned, allowing the slightly sweet and seriously fluffy challah and salty, aged cheese to play recognizable supporting roles.

Overall, this was definitely a five-star burger.  I’d even go so far to put it amongst the ranks of the Supper burger.  With the ratings coming in, it’s currently scored at a 4.68- good enough for first place on the Leaderboard!

Steph has also announced our meeting place for next (this? Sandy has made this all so confusing) month– but we’ll let her tell you all about it!

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