Grind Burger Kitchen (Louisville, KY)

Reviewed by: Kate

This past weekend I traveled to Indianapolis for work to go to The Gideons International Convention. If you travel much for work, you know that you don’t usually get to really see much of the cities you visit. So while in Indy, I got to see a lot of the Marriott hotels where the Convention was being held and eat a lot of chicken, but didn’t see much of Indianapolis. I was in desperate need for a burger.

A friend of mine told me about a burger joint called Grind Burger Kitchen in Louisville and suggested I stop there on my way back to Nashville. This particular friend and I tend to disagree on things like food often so I was a little skeptical, but we decided to give it a try.

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Grind Burger Kitchen started as a food truck in 2012 and after booming business, decided to open a permanent location. They pride themselves on their locally grown menu items and grass-fed beef. They have won several awards, being recognized as one of the best burgers in Louisville.

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When we entered Grind Burger we were greeted by a girl named Lauren who explained to us how to order and recommended any burger on the menu. That really narrowed things down for us. My coworker and friend, Hannah, decided to go with a more traditional burger with cheddar cheese, lettuce, and mustard, and chose fries as her side. I decided to go with the B&B burger which was topped with bacon, brie cheese and habanero jam. Lauren suggested getting the apricot jam instead of the habanero, which are both made in house, so I asked for jams on the side so I could try them both. My new friend Lauren also recommended the brussel sprouts so that’s what I went with as a side.

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The burgers were both delicious (I took a few bites of Hannahs to make sure they knew how to make a more traditional burger as well). I don’t know which jam I liked better because they were both good and really complimented the brie and bacon well. I would have to agree with Lauren when she said the brussel sprouts “aren’t your dads”.  I know brussel sprouts might sound like a weird side to go with a burger but they were really good and seasoned well.

Overall, atmosphere was great, service was quick, and it wasn’t too far off the highway. If you are looking for a place to stop and eat while in Louisville I definitely recommend stopping at Grind Burger Kitchen.

 

flavor

Burger Flavor:  5/5

bun

Bun Goodness: 4/5

valueBurger Value: 4/5

toppingsToppings: 5/5

xfactorX Factor: 5/5

5star

Crave Real Burgers Part 2

Reviewed by: Kate & Kevin

So by this point you’ve probably thought we’ve given up on this blog. I can hear you now: “They haven’t blogged since March. Can they even call themselves burger bloggers anymore?” I get it. The same thoughts have crossed our minds. And honestly, we don’t really have an excuse for our lack of posts or for leaving you on the edge of your seat as you patiently wait for our follow-up post on Crave Real Burgers. All we can say is that sometimes we like to just enjoy our burgers for the sake of enjoying them and not because we have to write a review. This blog was always meant to be fun, and not something we felt obligated to do. That being said, we still love writing burger reviews and plan on continuing to post. We took a break from the blog, but we are back and excited to share with you what we’ve been busy eating over the past 6 months.

For those of you new to this blog, let me catch you up. Last post, Kate discussed the burger that made her fall in love with burgers- The Popper from Crave Real Burgers in Colorado. She had dreamed about this burger for the last 2.5 years, working it into every day conversation with everyone she met. Kate was reunited with this burger back in March, and we are here today to do an official joint review of Crave Real Burgers. Was it all Kate remembered it to be??

Kate’s Review:

I returned to Colorado in March to be reunited with Crave. It was such a fun trip because it was the first time I had returned to Colorado since I lived out there back in 2012. I have several friends I met that summer that still live out there so it was so much fun to see them, ski in the Rockies, tour a new brewery, and of course-to be reunited with the burger that made me fall in love with burgers.

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So here it is, my moment of truth: Was Crave Real Burger all that I remembered it to be? The answer: yes!….and no. I really wish I could write a rave review about how it was everything I had been dreaming about for the past 3 years. But what kind of burger reviewer would I be if I didn’t tell you the truth?

I ordered 2 burgers: The Popper (a burger topped with beer battered cream cheese and jalapeños, lettuce, tomato, onion, chipotle mayo and avocado), and Love Stinks (a burger topped with roasted garlic cream cheese, more garlic, onions, roasted red pepper,  and red pepper aioli). I split the burgers with a friend so we each got a half of each type of burger. Both were delicious, but I still enjoyed The Popper best. Both burgers were extremely messy, but I have no problem with that! They were full of so much flavor and personality. I loved the contrast of flavors and textures on The Popper.  I kind of wish I hadn’t tried two burgers that had cream cheese on them only because they were both very rich, but it’s not every day I get to indulge in cream cheese on a burger. While my experience was still one of the best burger experiences I’ve had, I feel like I had a different perspective this time than the first time I had Crave (which makes sense because I’ve had A LOT of burgers in the past 3 years). Remember how I’ve said that The Pharmacy in Nashville relies too much on their toppings to make the burger good? Crave might be guilty of the same crime. Take away all the creative toppings, and the patty itself is pretty mediocre- maybe even a bit on the dry side. But let’s be honest, I think we all knew there was no way this burger could be as good as I remembered it to be. I had kind of put this burger on a pedestal.

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In conclusion, Crave makes some of the most creative burgers I’ve tried and they are phenomenal,  I will definitely make a point to go there every time I visit Colorado. Is it still my favorite burger ever? As far as gourmet burgers are concerned, yes. But I might argue that Gabby’s in Nashville has a more elite patty.

Kevin’s Review:

A brief interjection, if I may. Obviously Crave Burgers has a major historical connection with this site and a special place in Kate’s heart, so I won’t steal the spotlight for too long. I’d just like to provide some support to Kate’s review here – Crave makes a fine burger.

You see, I’ve been to Crave in Colorado Springs as well. No, not with Kate, so this isn’t quite the same as one of our more traditional joint-reviews. Luckily, I have friends in Colorado Springs too – what can I say, Kate and I… uhh… hang with the right cohorts – so I stopped off to taste the burger I had heard so much about. I was worried; I had been hearing about this burger for years and I was afraid it would not pay off, like some kind of digestive Niagara Falls (sorry, National Parks fans).

But Crave delivered, and not in a Jimmy Johns way. I opted for the Campfire, a buffalo patty topped with raspberry bbq sauce, crispy poblanos, pepper jack, and coffee-dusted onion straws. What can I say, the close proximity to the Great Plains made me feel like a cowboy. But this burger was anything but plain (get it?). The raspberry gave the BBQ a unique edge that I loved, and the peppers and coffee grounds on the onion straws gave the burger a perfect smokiness. Just like a campfire. Combine that with a hearty patty and a soft bun, and I was in heaven. Kate, I’m sorry I ever doubted you.

Kate’s Star Rating:

flavor

Burger Flavor:  4/5

bunBun Goodness: 5/5

valueBurger Value: 4/5

toppingsToppings: 5/5

xfactorX Factor: 5/5

Kevin’s Star Rating:

flavor

Burger Flavor: 4/5

bunBun Goodness: 5/5

valueBurger Value: 4/5

toppingsToppings: 5/5

xfactorX Factor: 4/5

Happy National Cheeseburger Day, everyone! Go eat a burger this weekend!

Love at First Bite…

Written by: Kate

2.5 years ago I fell in love. With a burger. It was love at first bite. We spent the summer together in Colorado. It was wonderful and delicious and perfect, but eventually we had to go our separate ways. Some might say it was just a summer fling. A mountain top experience (literally). But was it? If you are reading this and have had a conversation with me in the last 2.5 years, you have more than likely heard about this burger. I STILL dream about this burger. I have daydreamed about spontaneously buying a plane ticket and flying to Colorado for dinner just to eat this burger. When you are in love, you do crazy things.

It’s possible that this blog would not even exist if it weren’t for this burger- it’s the burger that made me fall in love with burgers. I have alluded to it on the blog before, but haven’t fully discussed it.  I wanted to wait for the right opportunity. Well, that opportunity is now, because a week from today, I am returning to Colorado and will be reunited with my favorite burger- The Popper from Crave Real Burgers.

Several friends, probably in an effort to guard my heart, have warned me that I’m probably going to be disappointed. Sometimes memories are better than reality. After all, I’ve eaten A LOT of burgers in the last 2.5 years. Maybe it’s not as good as I remember! My expectations are set pretty high. I mean, my first Instagram photo was taken at Crave Burger (that’s a big deal!)

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My first Instagram

 

That’s why I decided to write this blog post. I wanted to share with you my memory of this burger before I review it for real. I feel my memory of this burger can best be described in this clip from HIMYM (sorry for the quality):

So what is The Popper? Beer battered FRIED cream cheese and jalapeños, lettuce, tomato, onion, chipotle mayo, and avocado topped on a delicious local burger. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. This is just one of the many creative burgers Crave offers.

The Popper

Not only are the burgers delicious, but they also have incredible (spiked) milkshakes. I went to Crave on my 22nd birthday and got the Grasshopper spiked milkshake. Vanilla ice cream, Oreos, chocolate syrup, mint syrup, crème de menthe liqueur and crème de cacao liqueur. Perfection.

7 days. 7 days until I am reunited with Crave Burger. I’m excited to try The Popper again, and hopefully try another one of their burgers as well. Maybe the Colorado burger? Shredded lamb, poblanos, onions, pepper jack, avocado, chipotle mayo and tomato on a burger. Or maybe the Love Stinks burger?  Imagine roasted garlic cream cheese, more garlic, onions, roasted red pepper, and red pepper aioli all topped on a burger.

I’m hoping I’m not disappointed. I’m hoping it wasn’t just another summer fling.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this review! Kevin and I will write a full review of Crave Real Burger discussing expectations vs reality when I return from Colorado,  as well as some other Colorado burger reviews. I plan on trying several burger joints while I’m in Denver!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers!

25 Degrees (Hollywood, CA)

Reviewed by: Kevin

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In May, after graduating from graduate school and progressing in the subsequent job search, I began to realize that my time in Los Angeles was coming to an end. I wanted to cap my two years of great burgers and not-so-great burgers (and, you know, an entire graduate education) with a real show stopper. The problem was, my list wasn’t even close to finished.

After asking around and taking in all my options, I landed on 25 Degrees in the historic Roosevelt Hotel. I was promised a great burger and a spiked milkshake to wash it down with. My fondness for spiked milkshakes is well documented, and I couldn’t pass this one up.

I opted for the Salty Caramel, a milkshake made with vanilla ice cream, butterscotch, and a generous pour of Makers Mark. It was so stiff I practically needed a chaser. Mind you, I’m not complaining. It was great, as promised. And it was expensive, so I didn’t mind the potency.

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Expensive, that’s the recurring theme of the evening. Not only was the milkshake $13, the burger was $14, and the fries were an extra $4. Add in a tip, and the total for one meal came to nearly $40, just below my record burger expense. Unlike Zuni Café, however, this burger was excellent. I mean, really, really good. I built my own burger with a ground sirloin base, jalapeño bacon, roasted red peppers, pesto, and smoked mozzarella cheese.

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The bun held all of these toppings together, and managed to be soft and palatable all at the same time. The roasted red peppers were great, and the jalapeño bacon, while not particularly jalapeño-y, was still cut thick and cooked perfectly. And yet, even though the toppings were great, I didn’t need them. The ground sirloin patty was on point. Flavorful all on it’s own, it was independently delicious, in a class with my old favorites, The Apple Pan and Gabby’s. Any toppings were just a bonus that placed this burger among the very best I’ve ever had.

I was hoping to end my time in Los Angeles with a bang, and 25 Degrees packed enough of a flavorful punch to leave me satisfied with it being my last. If you don’t mind dropping a few extra bones, you can’t do any better than 25 Degrees.

I’m on my way to New Hampshire (though you can expect a few cross-country reviews as I go). What burgers should I try in New England? As always, let us know in the comments.

flavor

Burger Flavor:  5/5

bunBun Goodness: 5/5

valueBurger Value: 4/5

toppingsToppings: 4/5

xfactorX Factor: 5/5

5star

Gabby’s Burgers and Fries (Nashville, TN)

Reviewed by: Kate

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Sometimes simplicity is just better. Americans tend to overcomplicate things. What I love about Gabby’s Burgers and Fries, is that they understand the importance of simplicity. Gabby’s is a no-frills hub for grass-fed burgers.

This review has been in the works for a long time. I tried Gabby’s burger for the first time about a year and a half ago. It was right before Kevin and I decided to start Burger Diaries. Actually, Gabby’s played a part in inspiring this blog! Kevin had recently moved to LA to attend grad school, but was back in Nashville visiting. Somehow (meaning I probably mentioned The Burger that made me fall in love with burgers…more on that another day), we started discussing burgers and Kevin mentioned he was about to start a burger tour in LA that upcoming semester. I said “No way! I’m on the hunt for the best burger in Nashville!” and the idea for creating a burger blog was born. Kevin mentioned his favorite burger in Nashville was Gabby’s, and he was shocked that I had never been. We decided to change that, and I’m glad we did because Gabby’s is one of Nashville’s best kept secrets.

You will probably think your GPS is messing with you the first time you drive to Gabby’s. It is a little off the beaten path, and not in the safest Nashville neighborhood. But just as you begin to feel like you must have taken a wrong turn, you’ll see the little building on the corner that is Gabby’s Burgers and Fries. You know a burger joint MUST be good if they can afford to only stay open for lunch, and there is usually always a line out the door. Don’t worry, the line moves quickly.

I have always ordered the same thing- The Seamus (pronounced SHAY mus) Burger. Topped with ketchup, mustard, cheese, onion, and lettuce (I get no mayo or tomato) – it’s you’re All-American Burger! While other popular Nashville burger joints, like Pharmacy and Burger Up, tend to rely heavily on their unique toppings to make a great burger, Gabby’s focus is on the patty itself. Their meat is both grass-fed, and local to TN. To quote Gabby’s website, “Cows are meant to eat grass. And we are willing to jump through the hoops to support the cows and our customers well being.”

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Not only do they serve quality beef, but it’s at a reasonable price! The Seamus starts at $7.50, which includes your choice of side (Tip: If you can’t decide between regular fries or sweet potato fries they will let you get half and half.) If you want to get creative with your burger, they have everything from bacon to peanut butter you can add for a little more.

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People often ask me what my favorite Nashville burger is. It’s a hard question to answer because it really depends what you are looking for. If you want a burger that doesn’t need fancy toppings to make it good, Gabby’s is your burger. Not only is the food delicious, but the staff is so friendly and fun! I have been in there when they are wicked busy, and the staff still manages to keep things moving while having a great time. It truly looks like they are “Living the Dream”. If you haven’t tried Gabby’s yet, make plans to stop in for lunch soon! Then leave us a comment below and tell us what you think!

 

flavor

Burger Flavor:  5/5

 

 

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Bun Goodness: 3/5

 

valueBurger Value: 5/5

 

toppingsToppings: 5/5

 

xfactorX Factor: 5/5

5star
 
 
**Stay tuned for a special guest review of Gabby’s veggie burger- Coming Soon**

The Oinkster (Los Angeles, CA)

Reviewed by: Kevin

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It’s Burger Week! Well, by the time you read this, it will no longer be burger week. It will be just some week. But for me, as I type these words in the past, it is Burger Week. And as far as weeks go, they can get a lot worse.

The Oinkster in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles is a “slow food fast” restaurant, which is supposed to mean they serve food that tastes as though a lot of time and care has gone into it, despite the speed in which it arrives at your table. But today The Oinkster is a “slow food slow” restaurant, because much of Los Angeles has shown up for their annual Burger Week. Believe me, I’m not complaining.

The premise is this: The Oinkster is proud of their burgers, and once a year they craft seven unique, not-normally-on-the-menu burgers to satisfy their creative urges and my stomach. Each day, a different burger is showcased. To LA burger enthusiasts, this week is truly special, leaving participants anxiously awaiting the new burger profiles and clamoring for the burgers of old. If you, burger-loving reader, can make it to The Oinkster all seven days of Burger Week, you get a t-shirt and the title of #BurgerLord. Read on, constituents of my lordship. I shall tell ye of my quest become a #BurgerLord.

Let’s start with…

Monday

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On the first day of Burger Week, The Oinkster gave to me (for the almost reasonable price of $14.44), the Cheesesteak Burger of Philadelphia. This burger, topped with sliced Nebraska Angus chuck (think the meat from a Philly Cheesesteak), provolone cheese, and grilled peppers and onions. There were things to like and not like about it, thus I ended up somewhere in the middle.

For starters, the bun was soft, yet sturdy enough to hold a moderately greasy burger (thanks mostly to the sliced Philly cheesesteak meat) together easily. Taste-wise, it did not grab my attention one way or the other. It was merely functional. I appreciated The Oinkster’s generosity with meat, piling the sliced chuck atop the burger patty. However, the sliced beef added no new flavors to the burger. I had trouble distinguishing the patty itself from the sliced chuck.

The grilled peppers and onions were good, and provolone is my favorite cheese, so no complaints there. But all in all, the patty and sliced chuck came together to make this burger very one-note. It was a pretty good, but definitely not great, start to Burger Week, and it successfully whetted my appetite for a week’s worth of burgers.

 

flavor

Burger Flavor:  2/5

bunBun Goodness: 3/5

valueBurger Value: 3/5

toppingsToppings: 3/5

xfactorX Factor: 3/5

3star

Tuesday

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On the second day of Burger Week, The Oinkster gave to me a HotBurg on a Stick, a cornbread battered, deep-fried angus patty stuffed with cheese. The Oinkster went full-on fair food on Tuesday, and as an Ohio native who had his twelve year streak of Ohio State Fair attendance broken upon moving to California, I was excited about it. There were no butter cows to be found, but there was fried food on a stick. What could go wrong? As it turns out, a lot.

I’ll start with the good. The cornbread batter was an inventive approach to the bun, and it was delicious – crispy, with a great balance of sweet and salty. But even the batter was flawed. After a few bites, it didn’t hold up on the stick. It tore and slid, and I was forced to manually hold it to the stick to get a cohesive bite.

Inside the batter was an Angus patty stuffed with cheese. What kind of cheese? I couldn’t tell you, but if I had to guess, I’d say “Hamburger Helper Powder”. Honestly. Take away the noodles in the cheeseburger flavored Hamburger Helper mix, and you’ve got the contents of the HotBurg. The meat was subpar – barely seasoned, clumpy, and all-at-once completely bizarre. The cheese was watery and very un-cheese-like. The limited-time-only Limeade they served with the burger had been prepared well in advance, to the point that the ice in my cup was almost completely melted when I received it. As a bonus, it tasted a lot like Kool Aid.

When I was seven, I loved Kool Aid, and I had similar feelings for Hamburger Helper. But I’m an adult now, and so are the people who prepare the food at The Oinkster. The HotBurg gets points for creativity, but the execution gets a large, gloved, Hamburger Helper thumbs down.

flavor

Burger Flavor:  1/5

bunBun Goodness: 3/5

valueBurger Value: 2/5

toppingsToppings: 1/5

xfactorX Factor: 3/5

2star
Wednesday

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On the third day of Burger Week, The Oinkster gave to me the Turducken, a turkey patty topped with a chicken breast, duck pastrami, cherry gastrique, and rosemary garlic relish on a potato bun.

Recently, I went to a Jason Mraz concert, and it was the strangest, saddest concert I’ve ever been to. Jason (can I just call him by his first name?) spent the majority of the evening playing songs from his album to be released in July, entitled Yes!, and from his most recent album, Love is a Four Letter Word. Here’s the thing about these two albums, though. The casual listener doesn’t know anything about them, and they’re not very good. Eventually, in the encore, he closed out the night with I’m Yours, his most recent relevant single.

And yet, despite being disappointed when he unveiled a song about dirt – literally, just dirt – I was not truly sad until I’m Yours. As soon as he played the first few notes, the crowd ignited. This was the first song he played that they cared about. I thought about how that must feel – to show a new set of songs you’re truly proud of, and have an entire auditorium meet them with blank stares. And I vowed to never again confuse unfamiliar with terrible.

When I told friends about Wednesday’s Burger Week offering, they thumbed their noses at it. A burger with cherries on it? Gross. But I didn’t want the Turducken to fall victim to Jason Mraz’s fate – to be laughed off because it wasn’t familiar. I went into The Oinkster on Wednesday with an open mind was met with a successful burger. The Oinkster triumphed where Jason Mraz failed by providing a new product I could really sink my teeth into. Pun intended.

The Turducken was the best burger of the week. I particularly enjoyed the chicken breast. It wasn’t too salty, and it matched the other toppings well. The cherry gastrique provided a sweet, juicy jolt into the burger, but didn’t overpower the other more delicate toppings. My favorite topping though, was the relish. The rosemary paired perfectly with the chicken, and brought a unique herbal flavor to the burger. It really tasted like Thanksgiving.

The duck pastrami, however, was mostly flavorless, and the burger patty itself offered even less. I’m noticing a pattern with The Oinkster. The flavor of the burger patty is consistently disappointing. All things considered though, this was an enjoyable burger – one I would order again if it ever came out of The Oinkster’s Disney-like vault.

flavor

Burger Flavor:  2/5

bunBun Goodness: 3/5

valueBurger Value: 3/5

toppingsToppings: 4/5

xfactorX Factor: 4/5

3star
Thursday & Friday

In my last review, I wrote of my apathy for soccer. “I’m an American!” I boasted. “I don’t understand it!” I whined. And yet Sunday, as the World Cup came to a close, I was glued to the television, watching a match that would produce no goals until the 113th minute. A month ago I might have complained about a goalless soccer match, but today I’m completely swept up in the spectacle.

Burger Week at The Oinkster could have swept me up in the same way. As far as burger-celebrating goes, Burger Week had a similarly grand scale. But I couldn’t buy in. The patties too flavorless, and the drinks too weak. When I woke up on Thursday morning with a terrible stomachache that would not subside until Friday afternoon, I decided to forego those burger offerings, and I felt no remorse. The Oinkster had done little to prove their burgers were worth the pain of continuing to eat them.

So I took a two-day hiatus, and I would go on to skip Sunday as well. No, I’m not a Burger Lord, but I don’t think the title is worth the gastrointestinal pain.

Saturday

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On the sixth day of Burger Week, the Oinkster gave to me The Smoinkster. The Smoinkster features a smoke-infused angus patty, topped with bacon, smoked cheddar cheese, smoked white onion, smoked ketchup, and fried pickles on a Kaiser bun.

This ended up being my last burger of the week, as The Oinkster’s commitment to mediocrity shone in this burger like it’s brethren before it. Once again, the bun was hardly noticeable. The smoked ketchup was actually successful, though a little sweet. It put me in mind of the Hickory Sauce featured on my favorite burger at The Apple Pan. Ultimately, though, this comparison is the worst The Oinkster could have drawn for me, as the patties of each could not be further from each other in quality. The Apple Pan features a smoky, uniquely flavored patty, but The Oinkster’s, per tradition, was quite boring. Instead of causing me to enjoy the Smoinkster, this smoky ketchup just made me long to be elsewhere.

The smoked onions worked. The cheese really worked. The fried pickled weren’t the worst I’ve had. But all I wanted was a restaurant capable of combining these inventive ingredients on a delicious burger, and The Oinkster wasn’t up for the task.

 

flavor

Burger Flavor:  2/5

bunBun Goodness: 2/5

valueBurger Value: 3/5

toppingsToppings: 3/5

xfactorX Factor: 3/5

3star
The Week In Review

The Oinkster’s Burger Week is clearly fun. Each day I went was a celebration. Fathers lined up with their sons, each wearing armfuls of bracelets marking their achievements. Burger Week veterans sported hats and t-shirts gilded with pins of burgers old and burgers new. It would have been so easy to become wrapped up into the fun of it all – there was so much to enjoy. But all this show was proven for naught, as no burger impressed me enough to buy in. I wish a fun week to The Oinkster and their fans each coming year, but I will not be joining in. Perhaps I am no Burger Lord, but titles are rarely worth it anyway.

So, readers, what burger joint deserves a burger week? And what team should I root for, now that I, inexplicably, enjoy soccer. As always, the comments are below.

Battle of the Burger (Nashville, TN)

Reviewed by: Kate

 photo photo3_zps4059d2e8.jpg Last week, Nashville Lifestyles hosted the first annual Battle of the Burger competition in the Gulch. Over 400 people showed up to sample 11 burgers from local restaurants and vote for their favorite. As a burger enthusiast and burger blogger, I had to go! Participating restaurants included:

360 Bistro

Bar Louie

Burger Republic

Hard Rock Cafe

Hoss’ Loaded Burgers

Kitchen Notes

M.L. Rose

Music City Tippler

Riffs Fine Street Food

Urban Grub

Whiskey Kitchen

I thought I had tried a lot of burgers in Nashville, but prior to this event I had only tried Burger Republic’s burger from this list. I was excited to get to try and compare several new burgers at once. The Gulch holds several Pine Street Festivals, but this was the first one I attended so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Admission was $20 and that included sampling of as many burgers as you wanted, a free Goose Island beer, free burger swag at various booths, and there was lively entertainment from the Hard Rock Cafe. Each restaurant served their burgers differently. Some created slider versions of their burgers, while others created full size burgers and then cut them in half for sampling. Let’s just say these samples were NOT bite size. They were pretty decent portions, and admittedly I was too full by the end to try ALL of the burgers. I had a feeling this might be the case when I got there, so I was strategic in which burgers I tried. Here are my thoughts on several of the burgers I sampled:

Riffs Fine Street Food:  photo 2490282a-ac0c-4cdb-bfd9-c6e6209db924_zps4a7181f9.jpg Riffs started off as a local Nashville food truck, but they recently opened a cafe at Highland Ridge as well. Their burger is just one of many food items on their menu. They have quite the variety from burgers to Korean BBQ Tacos. The burger they chose to feature used beef from Porter Road Butcher. The burger was topped with deep fried pimento cheese (yes, you read that correctly. DEEP FRIED PIMENTO!), green tomato and red onion pickles, Riffs animal sauce, all on their housemade brioche bun.  While this burger was delicious and very flavorful, it was just a little much. The ratio of everything was off, but to be fair this may have been contributed to the slider version of the burger. The flavors of the toppings took over and it was hard to actually taste the beef itself, which we have mentioned time and time again, should always be the star.

Music City Tippler:  photo 47cb1a36-915c-4103-b87a-aac617d1a9e7_zps5e5fb132.jpg I had heard all about Music City Tippler from my good friend and ex roommate, Lauren. Lauren loves donuts like I love burgers, and Music City Tippler has a burger that has 2 glazed donuts as buns. While this sounded a little too rich (and sweet) for me, I felt I had to at least try it. They converted this burger into a slider version with mini donuts as the bun to sample. It was topped with bacon that was cooked with jalapenos to add a nice spice, homemade pickles, onions and pimento cheese. While all the individual parts were delicious (especially the jalapeno bacon), it was just way too hard to eat and didn’t translate well to a slider size. It was nearly impossible to take a bite of everything at once without the entire burger falling apart. I could tell that if I could take a full bite of everything together there would be a nice contrast between the sweetness of the donut and the spice of the bacon. Lauren was actually with me, and she said this mini version didn’t do the real donut burger justice. I guess I will just have to go try the full size version myself!

M.L. Rose:  photo df90568e-b440-4612-be7b-42c147845064_zps8662625d.jpg I have been wanting to try ML Rose for a while now. They have two Nashville locations- one on Franklin Pike and one on Charlotte Ave. in west Nashville. It’s a restaurant that specializes in two of my favorite things: burgers and craft beer. M.L. Rose chose to feature their Nash Vegas burger for the Battle of the Burger competition. This burger has a sweet potato bun and was topped with pimento cheese (pimento cheese seemed to be a theme. What is it with southerners and pimento cheese??), crispy tabasco onions, and BBQ sauce. It was really tasty. I don’t know what spices they put in their meat, but it had a subtle sweet taste. The sweet taste of the beef paired with the sweet potato bun contrasted nicely with spicy onions which were perfectly crispy. I’m excited to go to M.L Rose in the future to try some of their other burgers and craft beer.

Hoss’ Loaded Burgers:  photo a2d41023-c144-44d2-96a3-0f08e6d6dfd5_zpsd50a37af.jpg Hoss’ is another Nashville food truck. They specialize in gourmet stuffed burgers, and their beef is 100% grass fed and local. I honestly didn’t have high expectations for Hoss’. In my mind I was thinking, “Aww this small little food truck is competing with all these well known Nashville restaurants”. Boy, was I wrong! Hoss’ burger blew all the other burgers at the competition out of the park. The Jackelope burger, like Riff’s burger, used Porter Road grass-fed beef. It was topped with pepper jack cheese,, benton’s bacon, avocado, and house made jalapeno honey mustard, all on a hawaiian bun. YUM! There was a nice spice from the jalapeno honey mustard and pepper jack cheese, but it wasn’t overwhelming. The patty was one of the best, most well-seasoned patties I’ve ever tasted. It had a peppery taste that reminded me of the homemade beef jerky my dad always made growing up. I will definitely be visiting this food truck in the future to try one of their stuffed burgers.  photo 97b46908-2691-44a3-9d62-c89ba3f154e3_zps33380546.jpg While Lauren and I both agreed Hoss’ was the best burger we tried, Burger Republic won the battle. You can read Kevin and I’s thoughts on Burger Republic here. Hoss’ did come in second place though, followed by Kitchen Notes (located in the Omni Hotel).

To read more about Nashville Lifestyles Battle of the Burger, visit their website. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to next years battle! As always, leave comments in the comment section below. We would love to hear your thoughts on these burgers!

12 South Taproom and Grill (Nashville, TN)

Reviewed by: Kate

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The 12 South Taproom is a popular hangout for many Nashvillians. Located in the popular 12 South neighborhood, they have an extensive selection of craft beers on tap, as well as canned and bottled beer. They have your typical bar menu, but they have a reputation for serving quality food that has care and thought put into it. I was happy to learn that they serve organic, local, grass-fed beef. Having lived in Nashville for 6 years now (wow! has it really been that long?!), and for being somewhat of a foodie, you would think I would have gone to the 12 South Taproom plenty of times! Especially with my Alma Mater within walking distance. Nope! It wasn’t until last week that I went to the Taproom for the first time.

To be honest, I wasn’t planning on ordering a burger when I got to the Taproom. I was there to get a drink with some friends, but when I got there a burger sounded good so I decided to give it a try. I ordered the Black-n-Blue burger with my expectations set pretty low. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting a bad burger. I just expected a typical burger from a bar. Satisfying, but not memorable.  The menu didn’t give some fancy description that uses a bunch of words you don’t really understand. You know those pretentious menus I’m talking about? Where you only really recognize half of the words, but it sounds like it could be good so you just order and hope for the best. The Taproom kept things simple, and the description just read “hot melted bleu cheese, grilled onions on bun”. I appreciate descriptions that are straight and to the point. I ordered parmesan mashed potatoes as my side.

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This burger far exceeded my expectations! The toppings added a nice flavor, but did not take away from the flavor of the beef which was seasoned exceptionally well. The burger:bun ratio was perfect. My last bite was equal parts bun and burger. If I had one word to describe this burger it would be “balanced”. I do wish the bun was a little sturdier. While the bun was a good size, it was a little flimsier than I would like leaving the potential for it to become easily soggy. The parmesan mashed potatoes were delicious!  I definitely recommend them if you are looking to mix it up from the standard fries with your burger. I tasted the gouda macaroni which was also delicious, but seemed too heavy to be paired with a burger.

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The overall atmosphere at the Taproom was great for a summer night. They have a really nice patio we sat out on that has a laid back vibe, perfect for hanging out with friends.  So the next time you are at the Taproom sipping a beer while catching up with friends, order the burger! Then let me know what you think!

flavor

Burger Flavor:  5/5

bunBun Goodness: 3/5

valueBurger Value: 3/5

toppingsToppings: 4/5

xfactorX Factor: 4/5

4star
**Coming soon**
Later this week I am going to Nashville Lifestyles’ Battle of the Burger in the Gulch! There will be a live burger competition as local restaurants battle it out to be deemed Nashville’s Best Burger. I am excited to try all of the burgers competing and share with you my thoughts! Be on the lookout for a new post next week!

Abbey Burger Bistro (Baltimore, MD)

Reviewed by: Kevin

Has it really been since February? My sincerest apologies, dear readers, and many thanks to Kate and Cameron for stocking (see what I did there?) the blog with incredible guest posts and annual recaps in my absence. Anyway…

I need to reveal a secret to you. A dark secret. A secret that will show you just how much cooler you are than me. Are you ready? I don’t like soccer. *Gasp* I know! Someone with a trendy food blog, who has better taste in music than you, and who wears only the most fashionable haircuts doesn’t follow the trendiest sport of all – Fútbol? So imagine my leery-eyed confusion when I walked into Abbey Burger Bistro, an Arsenal bar, in the middle of a match with Tottenham Hotspurs. If you don’t know why that’s significant, that’s alright. You’re an American, just like me.

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But Kevin, you live in California. What brought you to Baltimore? Is it the soft shell crab?

No. Well, yes, but not primarily. I was in Baltimore interviewing for jobs. And while none of the jobs panned out, Abbey Burger Bistro made the trip completely worth it.

A friend and I entered the restaurant –me a poor, unenlightened American and he, even worse, a Tottenham fan – and were shown nothing but unbelievable hospitality and great food. Being the only two not wearing red could have made us feel out of place, but I felt totally at home. The server, a friendly, robust, very Irish man, sat us and explained the extensive beer list and exotic menu. Despite a variety of unconventional meat options (elk, bison, boar, etc.) I opted for traditional beef, pairing my beer – Banana Bread by Wells – with the Peanut Butter Burger.

Let me stop right there, because I can see the horrified looks on your faces through this computer. Peanut butter? On a burger?! Madness! But consider this – the sweet and salty combo has been around a lot longer than this blog. Do you like Hawaiian Pizza? BBQ sauce is often much sweeter than peanut butter, and it has been put on countless burgers without objection. And if you’re not tracking with me on those two things, we’ll probably never agree. You probably don’t dip peanut butter sandwiches in your chili either, you monster. Wait, is that just me?

So this burger. Topped with thick, applewood smoked bacon and slathered with creamy peanut butter, this burger was a dream. The patty was juicy, salty, and cooked perfectly. The bacon added a smokiness a contrasting texture to the patty. And the peanut butter brought it all together, turning the saltiness on its head, bringing a unique peanut-y flavor to the burger, and, in true peanut butter fashion, bringing the whole burger together like glue. It was delicious. On the side I ordered – no kidding – the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had. A perfectly velvety inside held in by a crispy, buttery skin. Delicious.

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All in all, this was an incredible burger, in a fun, personality-filled restaurant, located in a charming part of town. If you find yourself in Baltimore, skip the crab and go to Abbey Burger Bistro.

Here’s where you come in, readers. Want to judge me for not liking soccer? Think I’m crazy for liking peanut butter on my burger? Want to tell me I have a nice smile? As always, the comment section is below.

flavor

Burger Flavor:  4/5

bunBun Goodness: 4/5

valueBurger Value: 4/5

toppingsToppings: 5/5

xfactorX Factor: 5/5

4star

Stock & Barrel (Knoxville, TN)

Reviewed by: Kate

I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that one perk of having a burger blog, is that I get to scout out new places to try whenever I travel. This past Easter I traveled to Knoxville to visit a friend and decided to give Stock & Barrel a try. Stock & Barrel takes pride in the fact that they partner with local farms and businesses to promote local economic sustainability within the Knoxville community. All of their beef comes from Mitchell Family Farms in Blaine, TN. The family farm raises Holstein cattle that are all-natural and hormone-free. Unfortunately, after digging a little deeper, I learned that their cows are not grass fed. Bummer.

Stock & Barrel has a great selection of unique burgers to choose from. I was having trouble deciding. I asked our waiter for his suggestions, and he said I had to try The Greek burger. Of course he would recommend one of the most expensive burgers on the menu. It did sound very different from anything I had ever tried before so I decided to give it a go. It was a lamburger, topped with kesseri cheese, caramelized onions, tomatoes, greens, and tzatziki sauce. Simply put, this burger was incredible. While I’ve tried burgers that were half beef, half lamb before, this was my first fully lamb patty. It was definitely worth the extra money. The meat was very flavorful and was perfect for a Greek inspired burger. There were so many different flavors, but they all complimented each other perfectly. The tzatziki sauce was probably my favorite part. Stock & Barrel also gets props for their bun. The bun was toasted just enough, and held everything together well.

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Have you ever had a burger that as you are consuming it, you just have to pause because it is THAT good. This was that kind of burger. I remember thinking “this is a burger I will dream about later”. I have only had one other burger experience like this (if you know me you know I talk about this burger regularly and it was the burger that inspired this blog. One day I will share the experience with you all). Anyway, if you have never had that kind of burger experience, you have never experienced a truly phenomenal burger. You may have tried a great burger, maybe even an incredible burger, but everyone needs to have a “take a moment and take this in” kind of burger experience at least once.

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While The Greek Burger at Stock & Barrel doesn’t claim the title as my #1 burger, it comes in a close second. If you are ever in the Knoxville area, Stock & Barrel is the place to go!

flavor

Burger Flavor:  5/5

bunBun Goodness: 5/5

valueBurger Value: 4/5

toppingsToppings: 5/5

xfactorX Factor: 4/5