Thursday, December 29, 2011

Serious Burger - Appleton, WI

Today's review comes from the great Midwest (Appleton, Wisconsin) and a great friend of mine, Josh Rolfing.  We've been eating burgers together for years, and he was kind enough to write a review for Pure Burger!  From Josh:

Iʼve been following a while now and have been inspired to enjoy, rather than inhale, the burgers I consume. This led me to Serious Burger.  As the name implies, this burger joint doesnʼt mess around (there is a large cleaver in their logo). I did some research and learned they just opened up this past summer and are 100% organic and use lots of local ingredients. I had a ton of questions and hoped a manager or better yet, the owner, could scratch the itch.

We were in luck. Owner at the register ready to take our order. Hereʼs what I learned.
Meat - Meyerʼs Natural Angus of CO. Delivered fresh. Never frozen. Blend of 4 different steak meats. The owner hunkered behind the word “proprietary” when I shot him with questions concerning the types of meat used, how it was prepped, cooked, etc. Heʼs trying to franchise, so I canʼt blame him, but he did mention, it is NOT a smash style burger.

Buns -- French Brioche. Baked daily. Said the recipe is his own and was developed over the course of 6 months.

Little restaurant with a modern feel. Big display boards with simple menu options and information. Think Chipotle.

I ordered a simple burger. 6 oz single patty cooked medium. American cheese. Lettuce. Tomato. Ketchup and Mayo on the side. It was good...dang good. Meat was delivered medium as promised and had that great crumbly texture. I would have enjoyed a bit more grease, but the burger was by no means dry...I just love fat in liquid form. The cheese was thick, had a good melt, and great flavor (local WI cheese) You can see it in the pic...the cheese was cooked a bit on the grill. Assuming it was intentional.

The buns were incredible. Warm, soft, a bit chewy and a slight sweet taste to them. Really good.

My wife had the Southwest Steak Burger - guac, tomato, chipotle mayo, crispy fried onions, pepper jack and aged cheddar. Great robust flavor, wasnʼt sloppy and didnʼt overpower the patty.

This guy is serious about burgers and everything that goes into making them great. Ben and I are franchising. We just need someone with some serious cash. Pun intended. 

Some pics:

Friday, December 23, 2011

City Grille - What You've Heard Is True

It's been several years since I've visited City Grille on Colfax Avenue in Denver, and I most definitely have not been back there to eat since my Great Burger Awakening of 2011.  It's been voted "Best Burger" in Denver by lots of people, and two of the founding members of this blog have always said, "We need to go back to City Grille since you haven't had it in years!"  Chances are, you've had friends who've told you it's the best burger around.  I'm here to tell you that your friends are probably right.  City Grille is outstanding.

(Now, a brief caveat.  I've got another friend who is also a burger expert who ordered the namesake "Citygrille Burger" and was somewhat disappointed by the caesar dressing and ciabatta bun.  If you visit City Grille, I'd STRONGLY recommend sticking with a more basic "Steakburger" which I am reviewing in this post.)

My entire table kept our order quite simple.  1/2 pound Steakburgers (Harris Ranch fresh ground sirloin), American cheese, cooked medium rare.  City Grille includes some sweetly grilled onions on the side of this burger, which was a welcome surprise.  The bun, at first glance, might throw you off.  Yes, it's a ciabatta, sort of, and immediately looks too bready.  But, I was actually really happy with it.  It was soft, nicely toasted, and most importantly held up fantastically under the juicy 1/2 patty (something which 5 Star Burgers in Southglenn definitely struggles with).

Upon first bite, this burger is like GETTING SLAPPED IN THE FACE WITH A SLAB OF COW.  I mean it, the beef flavor pouring out of this burger is simply unmatched.  It's well salted, steaky (not a word, I know), and just powerfully beefy.  While they don't grind the meat in-house, it's always fresh and hand-pattied.  The sirloin grind is incredible, and actually, you can taste just a hint of a reminder of Steak n' Shake (who also use sirloin, albeit an entirely different burger).

The American cheese melt was fantastic, and these burgers came out SPOT ON medium rare.  The produce and fries are standard fare, and we dipped our fries in their tasty (but a bit too salty) green chili.

Bite after bite, the dopamine squirter in my brain just kept firing.  It was borderline debilitating.  I almost overloaded on the gloriously rich flavor of butchered cattle.  Here's to you, City Grille!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Westport Flea Market - Kansas City

I’ve finally had the opportunity to review an out of state burger.  (I am still looking for guest submissions, by the way.)  This weekend, I was in my hometown of Kansas City and visited a restaurant called the Westport Flea Market.  This burger was highly recommended by a friend of mine who lives in the area, so I was anxious to try it out.  The burger at Westport Flea Market has been voted “Best Burger” in Kansas City in the past as well.

The simplicity of the burger menu is great.  It should be noted that the menu is otherwise quite expansive: paninis, sandwiches, salads, etc.  The burger portion of the menu is blessedly simple, however.  A 10oz hamburger, a 5.5oz hamburger, and a patty melt (which is just the 5.5oz on rye with Swiss and onions).  I love it.  Another part of the burger menu entitled “garnishes” gives you the option of several cheeses and other basic accouterments like bacon or mushrooms.  That’s really it, and ultimately it’s what I enjoyed the most about Westport Flea Market: they’ve taken their stand with their beef, and have kept everything else blessedly simple.  Would that other restaurants realized this basic principle (one that I constantly harp on) that the beef patty is the heart and soul of a burger.  Put your energies here, and 9 times out of 10 you’ll have a decent burger.

The beef itself comes from a local butcher called McGonigle’s, and I understand it comes pre-ground but fresh, and is formed in house.  The beef flavor was very pleasing (I got the 10oz cooked mid-rare to medium) and quite juicy.  They cook it on an iron griddle with ridges, which gives the patties some grill marks.  The buns (commercial-grade, but soft and fresh) are well toasted on a flat top griddle, adding a nice buttery crunch to the burger.

A few downsides were the minimal amount of poorly melted cheese (cheese to meat ratio was askew), and I did have to send my first burger back for being nearly raw (a lesser crime than well-done, though).  Additionally, their sauces are just basic commercially purchased 1000 island and mayo.  So, again, nothing to write home about.  I also ordered grilled onions but they forgot them.  So all in all, this place won’t win awards for consistency or service, but the burger itself left me satisfied.

A few final notes.  If and when I return to Westport Flea Market, I’ll order the 5.5oz burger and ask for an extra slice of cheese to get a better ratio.  Although some might cry blasphemy, the nature of these burgers demands simplicity.  You’ll really have to let the beef shine to get the most out of a burger here, so I’d probably just get American cheese and dip the burger in ketchup. 

Crazy simple maybe, but I am a man unconditionally committed to excellence in flavor and texture when it comes to ground-up cow’s flesh, and that’s the best way to leave happy when you visit Westport Flea Market.

Here's some pics.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My mom got me one of these

A Lodge cast iron skillet.  In lieu of an actual flat top griddle at my house, this is the next best thing.

My first attempt went terribly wrong.  I smoked up the entire house, burned the outside of the meat to inedible char whilst leaving the internals of the burger still raw, and had to throw the whole shebang into the disposal.  It was humbling, and I thanked God for teaching me a lesson about being too prideful regarding burgers.

My second attempt went much better.  Coated the pan with a bit of butter, tried a lower heat, and created a wonderful grandpa-style diner burger.  (Double thin patty, double cheese, thinly sliced onion, iceberg lettuce, and a dash of mustard and mayo.  All on a cheap store-bought white bun.)

I felt like I was eating a burger from a small town of about 1,000 people cooked by a guy who's been standing in front of an ancient flat top griddle since 1965.

Thanks for the skillet, Mom.  And raising me as a carnivore.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Steak 'n Shake

A midwest tradition.  I grew up on this place.  And it's here, in Denver.  Quebec and County Line.  STEAK 'N SHAKE.

My memories of this place abound...and today I got a triple cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and dash of ketchup.  Shoe string fries.

This place is tough to beat.  It's a TRUE, CLASSIC, DINER-STYLE, GRIDDLE-COOKED, SMASH-METHOD burger joint.  The patties are made from T-bone and sirloin (true steak burgers), and juicy and flavorful.

Eat your heart out, Freddy's.   You are just a sad copy of the real McCoy.

Steak 'n Shake is the REAL deal.  If you are from the Midwest, you'll know what I mean.

We Ground our Own Patties

Last night, I tried to reverse the bad burger luck that I felt sticking to my soul after my unfortunate H Burger experience.  So, me and a few buddies did the only sensible thing.  Visited a butcher and ground our own patties.

The breakdown from Tony's meat market was thus: a good size portion of chuck, 4 short ribs, and another portion of brisket.  Our fat content was probably 30% (est.).  We ground the beef quite coarse, loosely packed it, and griddle-cooked it with some kosher salt and pepper to a perfect mid-rare.

Potato buns, iceberg, hot house, and onion, plus a homemade 1000 Island-type spread.  Simplicity at it's finest.

While not perfect (we're still experimenting with cooking methods, flipping the burgers, ratios, fat content, and salting), the burgers were far and away better than many I've cooked.

Can't beat fresh beef, freshly ground, cooked to temp.

H Burger Co (or, A Treatise on Burger Philosophy)

Alright.  This is a review of H Burger.  They've got two location in Denver, one at 16th and Blake and one at 7th and Colorado (called Little H Burger, same menu).  I went with my wife and another couple, none other than my buddy Brent and his wife.  Brent is one of the original founders of this blog...and he KNOWS burgers.  So we were excited to try H Burger.

Here's what we ordered.  First: the original H Burger itself, which is an angus patty that comes with a hatch chile, smoked cheddar, bacon, and a red-pepper tomato jam (like a fancy ketchup I guess).  Second: a standard burger with American cheese and grilled onions.  Thirdly: a lamb burger with feta and and a spicy aioli.  We also tried 4 of their french fry varieties: standard (with a tasty sauce of mayo/garlic/thyme), sweet potato (with a stellar ginger sour cream), truffle parmesan (H sauce again), and "everything" fries topped with cheese/bacon/scallions/jalepenos (with a wonderful Sriracha ranch).

First let me outline the good, then I'm going to go on a tangent.  H Burger's sauces were all great, the fries ware tasty, and the lamb burger was the most flavorful meat I tried that night.  The service was good, and the atmosphere is modern and hip.  The smoked cheddar and bacon on my H Burger were tasty, and the patties themselves were a decent size.  That's where our praise for H Burger ends.

Brent and I discussed at length the basic philosophy that SHOULD (but didn't) govern a burger place like H Burger.  Quite simply, as Brent said, you'd better get burgers right if you have "burger" in the name of your restaurant.  The greatest downfall of H Burger is the simplest and most absurd thing that a burger place can get wrong.  THE PATTIES THEMSELVES!  The very foundation of a burger...the basis upon which the burger stands or falls...the heart and soul of the American cheeseburger...

H Burger gets it wrong.  Sure, they are ground in-house...but no one there could tell us about the blend of beef (the menu just says Angus.  What?  Big deal!  McDonalds advertised Angus...),  and the patties were WOEFULLY overcooked.  You could barely taste the beef on my H Burger (WAY too much going on, keep it simple!), and as I said earlier, the lamb was the tastiest meat I tried.  How could a burger place get BEEF wrong?!?

Underlying this tragedy is another flaw in their design.  They quite simply have not indoctrinated their waitstaff or employees with what a great burger truly is.  No one at the restaurant could even answer what kind of buns they use!

All in all, H Burger is hoping that their average customer will be wowed with toppings, sauces, and a varied menu.  But for the true burger lover in Denver, H Burger just doesn't cut the mustard.  It's a farce...a restaurant that slapped "burger" in their name to join the ranks of hip burger joints but has no serious commitment to beef or an overarching philosophy of what a truly stellar burger is...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Free McDonalds For A Year

I'm not a huge McDonald's fan.

Actually, let me rephrase that.  If you are an American, you were probably at one time a huge McDonald's fan.  Growing up, McDonald's was the BEST.  My 3-year old son loves it.  And because in some ways McDonald's is my earliest memories of cheeseburgers, my guess is that something genetically happens to a young boy's mind that cements it in his brain as some sort of life-long enjoyable flavor.  That's happened to me.  I'm 30 years old now, but when I buy my son a cheeseburger at McDonald's, that part of my brain fires up and I can't resist taking a bite.

I'm not even sure I'd consider it a "cheeseburger".  It's in a world all it's own.  It's not a burger, it's McDonald's.  I hope that makes sense to some of you.  In my defense, I NEVER go out of my way to actually eat a full meal at McDonald's.

Until now.

A location close to my house just re-opened after they rebuilt their building.  First 100 people in line at 6am this morning got a coupon for a FREE VALUE MEAL PER WEEK FOR ONE YEAR.  I know, crazy.

My buddy Dave and I camped out last night.  We were first in line, got about 3-4 hours of sleep, and should've done a documentary on our experience.  Dave was the mastermind behind it, and spent the weeks leading up to the event emailing the management, scoping the scene, planning the details, and laying awake at night in anticipation.  His efforts paid off handsomely, and now we are both going to be growing fat on McDonald's this year.

Maybe I'll use my free weekly value meal on my kids.  But maybe I won't...a Big Mac somehow sounds amazing right now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Review of Ted's

Ted's Montana Grill is a chain restaurant.  There's like 46 of them.  I'm going to go on record and say that this is a good thing.  Ted's does so many things right when it comes to burgers, and my complaints are few.  Come, readers (all 6 of you): let's dive into the world of burgs once again and be satisfied.

The menu at Ted's is daunting.  They've got all kinds of food, but of course I focused primarily on the burger portion of their menu.  Even that is daunting.  American, gruyere, bleu, jack, pepper jack, chilis, jalepenos, arugala, tomatoes, peppercorn, eggs, bacon, onions, mushrooms...kaiser, wheat, oat buns...bison or beef...mustard remoulade, garlic aioli, Z-sauce...the options are NUMEROUS, people.  

But, in order to stick with both my traditions and my gut sense, I kept it simple and ordered a BEEF BURGER, MID-RARE, MONTEREY JACK CHEESE, CARAMELIZED ONIONS ON A KAISER:

(Those sides you see there are fresh-cut fries, simply perfect in every way, and two ramequins of their mustard remoulade and their garlic aioli).

Ted's is, by the manager's own admission, focused more heavily on their bison than on their beef.  As a result, the bison tastes great and the beef is really nothing to write home about in the sense that it is just your basic chuck beef.  No special blends of meat here.  However, the greatest part about Ted's beef is that it arrives at the restaurant basically still on the cow.  They cut it up, cube it, and grind it all fresh daily.  Would that more restaurants take their cues from Ted's in this regard.  It simply makes for the juiciest, freshest, more flavorful patties.  (More on that in a bit.)

My comrades decided to branch out with their burgers, ordering the Avalon (bleu, arugala, garlic aioli, bacon crumbles, and grilled onions), and the Peppercorn (peppercorn encrusted, gruyere, herbed dijon mustard, arugala).  These burgers are serious from a culinary standpoint, not your average diner burger, and are general explosions in flavor.  If you like a LOT going on with your burgs, Ted's can deliver in the flavor department.  Oddly (for me), I was most impressed with the flavor of the arugala.  I know, weird.  Their bacon is smoky and totally kick-butt, too.

Alright.  A few thoughts on my burger.  First off, it was unfortunately overcooked.  I asked for mid rare, and only saw traces of pink.  A travesty (sorry about the low quality image, my iPhone 4S is junk):

However, the meat was saved simply by merit of their proprietary seasoning (more involved than salt and pepper), the sheer freshness of their beef, and the fact that they pack it so loosely.  It was still really juicy and flavorful.  At this point, I want to highlight Ted's cooking method, because it impacts their burgers dramatically.  It's griddle-cooked, but they put a stainless steel cup OVER the patty as it cooks.  They don't smash it, and only flip it once.  In short, it's as if the meat is cooking in a little mini-oven, and the juices have nowhere to escape so they stay in the meat.  The positives of this method: juicy burgers, loosely packed patties.  The negatives: harder to get a mid-rare burger, and less salty crust from the griddle.  I am conflicted as to my thoughts regarding this method of cooking.

Let me put it this way.  If it wasn't for their seasoning blend, I'd consider their cooking method a deterrent.  I'd rather have a slight press onto the griddle with a spatula, more crust, and a truly pink burger on the interior.  However, I also find that there is not a whole lot to complain about when it comes to their beef's overall flavor.  It sure as heck beats out a lot of local patties I've eaten.

In other news, the caramelized onions were gloriously sweet, the tomato on the side was super fresh, and the mustard remoulade was an awesome spread for my simple burger.  The bun: meh.  Not offensive, but not special.  I really enjoyed my simple burger, and on a special occasion would be really happy to gorge myself on one of their more involved specialty burgers.

All in all, I greatly appreciate Ted's attention to detail regarding their food.  They really care about the little things, take great pride in their offerings, and churn out a very respectable burger.  With a better white bun, a truly mid-rare patty, and a little more crust from the griddle, it'd be outstanding.  As it is, I give Ted's a solid, I'll-come-again-and-be-excited-about-it 7.5 out of 10.  Tough to go wrong here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ted's Montana Grill

I haven't eaten here in years.  Their prices went through the roof, but I always remember the burger being one of my favorites right after I got out of college.

A buddy told me that he just went and got one of the best burgers he's ever had.  Bison on wheat, with bleu cheese (which happens to be one of my wife's favorite burgers even though we stopped going to Ted's years ago).

Needless to say, since the Burger Reformation of 2011 (when I became convinced burgers were a passion of mine and began studying them with fervor), I've had some inner promptings that maybe I need to return to Ted's and give it a proper review.

They grind fresh meat, which is way more than I can say for most burger joints out there...I'm excited.  There's a part of my brain that has been permanently seared by Ted's burgers, and I think it's time I awaken that desire again.

Anyone been recently to a Ted's?  Or claim it as their favorite burger?

Burgers are Incredible

I made some burgers last night.  Let me give you the run down, and then critique my own work.  Ingredients as follows:

90/10 organic beef (kosher salted and peppered)
Wonder classic white buns
extra sharp cheddar cheese
fresh hot house tomato
fresh iceberg lettuce
caramelized onion
burger sauce (a blend of mayo, ketchup, vinegar, sugar, sweet relish, and paprika)

In-n-Out Burger is doubtless the inspiration for my creation last night, as I served double cheeseburgers.  Using the smash method (an American tradition that involves placing a ball of beef on the griddle and then smashing it with a spatula), I was able to get a nice, salty crust on the burger.  The biggest downfall was the 90/10 beef blend.  It's passable when cooked medium rare, but anything beyond that and the low fat content simply results in patties that are too dry.

The produce was the high point.  I am tempted to say that iceberg and hothouse tomatoes are simply as good as it gets when it comes to standard burger roughage.  Word to the wise: properly caramelized onions take forever.  Give yourself a good 45 minutes to let those babies get soft and brown before you fire up the griddle or grill.

I wish I would've stopped to get some American cheese slices.  The sharp cheddar is fine, but who was I trying to kid?  American cheese is the greatest burger cheese, and I lamented its absence last night.

The buns were fine.  Basic grocery bread.  I am THIS CLOSE to putting in a $25 order to have some specialty buns shipped from the east coast.  Martin's Potato Rolls.  Look them up.  I hear they are the BEST.

The burger sauce was great (on the fries as well), but I really want to investigate some sort of special recipe...adding spices, chiles, garlic, I don't know.  I think a great sauce can really be a signature element of a burger, and I am still using a very basic concoction.

All in all, it was a great meal.  Let me know if you ever want to get together and make burgers.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A spontaneous visit to Park Burger

Last night, I happened to be driving on Broadway...and then realized I was only a few blocks from Park Burger.  It was 8:30pm, I was alone, I had a $50 bill, and I decided to indulge myself.  I later confessed to my wife.

I dropped into Park Burger on Pearl St. and asked if I could get a burger to go.  While they cooked it up (a PERFECT medium rare), I chatted with a manager and a nice couple sidled up to the bar (which isn't an actual bar, it's just some stools that overlook the griddle, which is awesome).

We got to talking about their buns (mistakenly, I thought they were brioche...but they are locally baked potato buns), their fries (cut fresh every day and perfectly cooked), their beef (Harris Ranch, never frozen), and their daily delivered produce.  Their proprietary special sauce is also spot on.  We also talked about consistency, and the fact that the manager mentioned he detests restaurants that serve item upon item without ever specializing in anything.  I love Park Burger.

Biggest surprise of the night was to find out that the beef comes pre-ground.  I thought for sure they grind their own beef, but they don't.  No matter.  It's such a good quality, I didn't care.

I've got a LONG way to go regarding beef.  This Park Burger guy was discussing proprietary blends of beef (his favorite is 60% chuck and 40% brisket), and the fact that they are getting one soon.  Beef blends are beyond me: short rib, brisket, chuck, etc.  In any event, I felt like my burger tasted matured last night.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Okay, Okay.  I admit that it's a bit out of character for us to review a fast-food burger.  Generally, we are more into the local spots.  But I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Wendy's.  It started years ago when I'd go there with a buddy and we'd order triple cheeseburgers.  In the absence of In-n-Out in Denver, Wendy's has always satisfied the cheap, easy, fast-food style part of my burger cravings.  (Although I hesitate to put it in the same sentence as In-n-Out, which is VASTLY superior and in a different class altogether, I like Wendy's better than McDonalds and Burger King.)

Imagine my curiosity when Wendy's announced they were changing their recipe!  I had to give it a shot.  I ordered a Double.

In brief:

A) Better buns, but not terribly different
B) Way too little salt on the beef (I think they reduced the salt for some stupid reason)
C) Great produce - I immediately liked the thin red onion and the pickles were really good
D) Bigger patties (in fact, a double cheeseburger is now marketed at a 1/2 lb, which borders on too big)

All in all, Wendy's stuck close enough to the original that I'll still visit.  The saltless beef notwithstanding, I think the produce and bun improvements will earn overall positive marks from me.

Next time, I'll plan on salting the patties myself after receiving my burger.  As a final note of oddity: my buddy ordered a Double as well..and only got one slice of cheese on his.  They might need to work on their consistency (I got two slices), but then again, this is just a fast food joint.  Good for an indulgence here and there, but nothing like a local burger joint.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


If you live in Denver, you've probably heard of Larkburger.  They've got a few locations scattered around Denver and Colorado, and I visited the one at Belleview and Ulster (north Tech Center) last night with my wife and some friends.

This burger review won't count towards the overall ratings, since I didn't have other reviewers with me...but let me say, it was WAY better than our current #2 burger from Flemings.  It's a tragedy Larkburger can't officially take the #2 slot yet...maybe we'll revisit it for an official Pure Burger review.

In brief, I was pleasantly surprised by this burger.  I stuck with the standard $5.95 Larkburger.  The buns are standard white (my wife got a gluten free option), the produce is fresh and tasty (green leaf lettuce instead of iceberg, red onion instead of white, and a slice of tomato), and my slice of cheddar cost me an extra $0.50 (the only cheese option is Tillamook cheddar).

I wish I would've delved into the burger sauce more.  There wasn't enough on my burger, but I think it was good.  I'll order a side next time.  I also ordered a side of their truffle aioli (that comes on a burger if you want it to).  We also opted for the parmesan truffle fries -- totally awesome.  I even scraped the remnants out of the cardboard tray with a fork.

One of the biggest blessings of this burger was the Angus beef.  I talked to one of the cooks for a while about it.  I'm sure he thought I was crazy.  But I digress.  Anyway, the beef comes to them unfrozen, and then they expertly pack the patties themselves.  Although not ground in-house, the packing job is perfect...loose packing, and a medium grind.  They do not press their patties at all, and grill them.  The product was a fine meat patty, just crumbly enough, with great flavor and and solidly pink the whole way through.  SO MANY other burger joints could learn from this.  Kudos, Larkburger.

Ben's overall rating: 7/10.  Better than Smashburger or 5 Guys for sure, but not quite at the level of 5 Star Burgers or Park Burger.  With some more cheese options, and the option of a double patty, and a bit more sauce, this burger might even muster an 8/10.

A Revisit to 5 Star Burgers in Southglenn

For the proud few who follow this blog, I wanted to send a friendly reminder to visit 5 Star Burgers in Southglenn.  Seriously, this is one of the finest burgers I've found in I've visited burger joint after burger joint in the last few months, I keep wanting to go back to 5 Star Burgers.

So I stopped in there today.  I wasn't able to eat, but I did spend some time talking to one of the managers.  I asked some questions about their business (going well, but need more burger lovers to visit them!), and their beef (ground in-house, locally sourced, cooked on a grill).

Seriously, this place is worth a visit.  I can't wait to go back and get the Green Chile Cheeseburger again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse

A while back, I read a glowing review of Fleming's $12 burger on my favorite blog A Hamburger Today.  I mean, the pictures looked incredible...the beauty is, we've got Fleming's in Denver, and before 7:00pm the burger is only $6.00!

So, myself and a few friends gave it a shot.  One of those friends is a fellow reviewer on this blog (Mark), so without further ado I give you the SECOND OFFICIAL REVIEW of Pure Burger.

I really don't want to be overly negative here, so I will say upfront that a lot of the blame for this experience falls on me.  I think my expectations were simply too high after reading previous reviews of this burger.   The presentation was nice...

Beef: As soon as this burger plopped down in front of us, we knew we had a problem on our hands.  Previous pics had led us terrible astray, and a short chat with the waiter revealed the ugly truth: PREFORMED PATTIES!!!  The flavor was decently seasoned, but the meat itself was just...preformed.  Juiceless.  Tightly packed.  Perfectly round.  Bad news.

Bun: While the waiter mentioned sourdough, I think he was wrong.  This was a decent sized, pretty tasty, challah bun.

Cheese: Mark and I both kept it simple with cheddar (unfortunately, they don't sell American), and my wife and other buddy got a very moldy (in a good way) bleu cheese.  The bleu was very high quality, but unless you like your burger totally overpowered by bleu cheese, then stick with cheddar. (In general, I've moved away from super strong cheeses to let the meat speak for itself.)  Swiss is an option, too.  Sadly, the slice of cheddar was about the size of a credit card.  Pathetic.

Extras: Mark came through with a stroke of genius here, and ordered a side of 1000 Island.  Otherwise, the burger comes plain.  It comes with either 2 big onion rings, or sub fries at no extra charge.

Produce: Standard burger produce.  LTO.

Ratios: A decent ratio, although maybe a but too much bun.  Overall, nothing outlandish.

Price: $12 regularly, $6 before 7:00pm

*Pure Burger recommendations: I'm serious when I say that I am quickly getting to the point of calling a restaurant beforehand to see whether they use preformed patties.  It's just a flat out disgrace for any burger attempting to actually BE a burger as opposed to a second rate menu addition (as Fleming's burger clearly is).  Even for $6.00, we'd recommend visiting a spot like Park Burger, 5 guys, or possibly even Smashburger.  Fleming's just didn't satisfy.

Hopefully we'll have a positive review soon!!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Old Mill Brewery and Grill

Hey everyone. Ben here. Time for another burger review. This burger comes from a restaurant right off Main Street in downtown Littleton...the Old Mill. I think it used to be some sort of italian place or something...but now they are your classic brewery/grill/bar outfit: lots of seating, cool atmosphere, TVs, and the like. We sat on the patio, which is always nice.

In order to fully immerse myself in the most fundamental aspects of burgerdom, I ordered the Classic American Burger. Kudos to the restaurant for a name that, while not original, is steeped in history and lore. American cheese (of course), medium rare beef (never frozen), lettuce, tomato, and red onion. The bun was a basic Kaiser...a bit tough, and nothing to write home about.

First, the good. The beef had an immediate char-y flavor, reminiscence of the grill, and was pleasingly seasoned. The American cheese melt was great (side note: my wife got bleu cheese, which is notoriously hard to melt...hers was melted into a gooey oblivion. Awesome.). The produce on my burger was fine, and the fries are tasty in both regular and sweet potato variety. As an added bonus, the fires come with a spicy dipping sauce that actually works pretty well on a burger, too.

Now, the bad. Upon biting into the beef, my burger-alarm went off. Although seasoned and charred, I noticed a distinct lack of juice for a medium-rare burger. Sure enough, upon close inspection of the patty, I had a sinking feeling these were pre-formed. The grind was too small, the meat too densely packed. It's a burger no-no, because although it's efficient, too much can go wrong. Namely, the juiciness, texture, and beefy flavor of the patty. That was the burgers biggest downfall by far.

For my companions (one of whom ordered a nice sized burger with avocado, cheddar, and bacon), the experience was overall pleasant. And I am inclined to say the same, except for that darned pre-formed patty.

If Old Mill could grind their own beef and upgrade their buns, this would be a formidable burger. As it is, I just have to rate it a 6/10. Passable, but not noteworthy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

OG Burgers - a burger food truck

Hey everyone. Ben here. This is another caveat blog post…just a singular review, not to be taken into account of the overall ranking of “best in Denver” (our other judges were absent). Here goes:

In the future, my buddy and I own a burger trailer of sorts. We travel around Denver serving up fine examples of the American cheeseburger. Quality and flavor are our motives. With that in mind, I decided to visit Civic Center Park last Thursday to try what I believe to be the only burger-only “food truck” in Denver: OG Burgers. Here’s their website:

I was excited. I am always game for a new burger experience, and I was interested in trying a quality burger from a food truck. “OG” stands for “original grass-fed”, and they tout their beef as local, Colorado cow…from farm to bun. The offer a wide range of clever toppings and sauces, and a decent brioche bun. The truck itself is very minimal: spray-painted, old, and lots of character.

I decided to keep my order simple, as I feel that’s the best way to:
1) Try a new burger spot and even the playing field
2) Let the quality of the beef really shine
3) Judge the overall experience, because if the basics aren’t satisfying, then I doubt a more complex burger would be.

With that said, I ordered a medium-rare burger, with sharp cheddar (they don’t offer American cheese…a TRAVESTY!), lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard/ketchup. Then, things went downhill. FAST.

After a brief conversation with the owners, I had the distinct feeling they were not burger connoisseurs and that the whole idea of grass fed burgers in a food truck was some kind of novelty to them. As if burgers were just a route to profit instead of a true passion. The quality of the burger I was about to eat bore this out…I was massively disappointed. The guy flipping burgers even remarked, “Uh, I think this is closer to medium instead of medium-rare…just want to make sure it’s cooked…” What?

The meat was gray. There was SO much mustard and ketchup slathered on the burger that I literally couldn’t taste the meat anyway. The lettuce was shredded (which gets soggy, in my opinion). They don’t serve fries. It was like eating a bun covered in mustard. I felt like there was no concern for the almighty “ratio” of a good burger: beef to bun to cheese to toppings. It was just a total mess.

I left disheartened, and realized I probably should’ve visited the neighboring food truck from Steuben’s and got a burger there. To all you burger joints out there: for the sake of everything sacred in burgerdom, PLEASE do us all a favor and get out of the business if you aren’t obsessed with burgers! I bear no ill will towards the owners of OG Burgers…maybe it was off day for them…but unfortunately I won’t be returning.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Park Burger: Pearl Street

All of the Pure Burger bloggers can't resist the chance for a great burger experience. So, as Ben mentioned in his post below we are offering our insight individually, if necessary, to keep you hungry for more.

Mark and I (Jenna) had a chance to go out (sans kids) for a bite last week and headed for Pearl Street.

Park Burger delivered on flavor and atmosphere. We sat outside and enjoyed a lazy, quiet evening as the sun set. It was probably the perfect time to go for a couple of "old" people: Monday night, 7pm.

The burgers were perfection. I enjoyed the $1.50 sliders (their Monday night special pictured above) while Mark enjoyed an off-the-menu pick with caramelized onions and American cheese. The buns are made locally by Grateful Bread Company and were a real treat. And let's be honest, even a great burger on a mediocre bun is just that - mediocre.

Fries are ordered separately and we have to recommend The Works. What I would describe as shoe-string fries are crispy and wonderfully smothered with cheese, bacon, and fresh green onions. Sharing these was a good decision.

FYI: if you go when it's busy, be prepared to sit elbow to elbow indoors; bathrooms? don't go unless you have to.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Oven: Belmar

In an effort to keep the blog updated, we've decided to throw in a review here and there that doesn't necessarily fit into the overall ranking. This is a burger that I (Ben) had, without the companionship of my other reviewers...therefore, it won't be taken into consideration for the Best Burg in Denver. Without further ado:

I really, really wanted to like this burger. And maybe I shouldn't be getting a burger at a pizza place. But for those of you lucky enough to have ever tried the burger at Tarbell's in Southtglenn (now closed), will appreciate the hopes I set upon The Oven's burger. Both restaurants are owned by the same guy, and Tarbell's burger was unreal. So, with high hopes, I gave The Oven a try.

They cook the burger in the very same wood-fired ovens that cook the pizzas, and let me know beforehand that they could cook it rare to well-done. I ordered medium rare, but got medium well…this was not the last disappointment regarding the patty. But first, the good news.

The burger comes out on a fantastic Udi's challah roll, nicely shimmering with some grease, and spread with their house-made mayo. The mayo is no doubt one of the burger's primary draws -- with hints of garlic and basil, it was almost more of a spread than a simple mayo. The flavor was good, but I ended up scraping some off. The tomatoes (roma, I think) were fresh and flavorful, but the shredded iceberg was just standard. A nicely melted American cheese rounded out the burger.

Back to the patty, and ultimately this burger's downfall. To my dismay, upon the first bite I realized that they used frozen, pre-formed patties. Remembering the glory of Tarbell's steak-trimming, hand formed patties, I was shocked and sorry to see such a pathetic patty on the Oven's burger. It tasted somewhat microwaved, even though it was cooked in their wood-fire. Decent toppings, bun, and mayo aside, the burger simply could not recover from this abysmal meat.

Overall grade, B-. But, if they went to fresh patties and backed off on the mayo, i think this burger could really be good. Oh well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

5 Star Burgers: Southglenn

We sampled several burgers and rated the 5 Star Burger from 5 Star Burgers in Streets of Southglenn.

Here are the pure and simple results:

Beef: house-ground Harris Ranch; slightly over-cooked but still juicy and flavorful

Bun: locally baked with their own recipe, the brioche bun was possibly the best part of the a tie with the gloriously beefiness of the patty.

Cheese: gorgonzola crumbles, a generous amount that added a terrific punch

Extras: no sauce on the burger, but the green chile mayo served on the side was amazing & the perfect dipper for both the regular and sweet potato fries; bacon was crispy and delicious

Produce: all was fresh and crisp; the star of this side show was the Katy's pickle slices. all the burgers come with a side of green leaf lettuce, white onion, tomatoes, and pickles.

Ratios: excellent beef-to-bun-to-cheese ratios.

Price: $8-12 and fries are extra ($3)

*Pure Burger recommendations: the 5 Star Burger was truly great, but we'd choose the Green Chile or the Lamb burger for real "wow" factor...the Green Chile melted pepper jack over the top of chopped hatch chiles, and the lamb was a perfect mid-rare with cucumber slices and tzatziki sauce. Out of the ordinary, but awesome.
Taos Burger: That's a whole, fried green chile on top - yum!

*Pure Burger rating: our first review means first place! Let's see if they can hold on to the top.

"The Side Dish": Not a meat eater? The Portobello Stack was a nice alternative; fries were good; no complaints on service or cleanliness; although not necessarily a "family restaurant" the kids were definitely happy!

Traditional Burger Menu
It was quiet on a Tuesday night, but nice atmosphere

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pure Burger: It's Coming

The burger.

I will leave fast food chains un-named that have made the hamburger one of the most popular foods in our culture. You won't be hearing about them here.

Our goal is simple: to find the best burgers in metro-Denver and tell you all about them.

Starting in July, here at pure burger you can feast on the simple details that make or break a burger. And then we'll tell you where to find them.

Have a place you want us to try? Leave a comment and we'll put it on the list.

Until our next post, eat well & feed the hungry.