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R.F. O'Sullivan vs. The Druid: Battle of the Burgers

I hope no one objects to my starting a new thread for this post. I just didn't want it to get lost in the thread I started yesterday ( http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... ) asking for recommendations of what to order for my first ever visit to R.F. O'Sullivan. While most responded to my inquiry, a few hounds took the opportunity to advocate their view that The Druid offers a better burger than O'Sullivan's. So I decided to take the challenge and try them both on back-to-back nights. (Before I continue, I also want to point out that there was an extensive recent discussion of burgers in Boston, which can be found here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... .


Without further ado . . . the winner is . . . The Druid. It really was no contest. I very much enjoyed my O'Sullivan burger, as I reported in the above-referenced thread, but it wasn't (IMHO) best-of-Boston material. On the other hand, I had a much more visceral (in a good way!) reaction to The Druid burger. It was just delicious. Nicely charred, smaller than O'Sullivan's (again, in a good way; it wasn't small, just smaller than O'Sullivan's), and juicier than O'Sullivan's. I ordered it the way it's described on the menu -- lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and mayo -- which is not how I normally would order a burger, but it was a delicious combination.

Other considerations: I did not try the fries at O'Sullivan because they had too many detractors, even among O'Sullivan fans. The Druid's fries, however, were delicious: fresh, hand cut, and nicely seasoned with salt, pepper, and (I think) fresh chopped parsley (I normally despise seasoned fries, because so many places use seasoning like that Cajun Seasoning crap, but these simply seasoned fries were delicious). Druid had a much more interesting beer selection than O'Sullivan. Both have decent neighborhood pub atmospheres. O'Sullivan obviously is much easier for parking.

But the bottom line for me is that this was not a close contest. It's hard to imagine going back to O'Sullivan when I know I can get The Druid burger right down the street. That said, next time I'll probably try their fish sandwich.

One last thought: O'Sullivan makes a great burger, and clearly has lots and lots of fans. I don't want to start a war between O'Sullivan fans and The Druid fans. I personally prefer The Druid. Lots of other people do too. But still others prefer O'Sullivan. If you haven't tried them, don't let us decide for you; rather, do what I did, try them both, and make your own decision.

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  1. Ah...VERY diplomatic of you, Blumie! I like the fish sandwich at the Druid, too, but I think after Dax's recommendation, next time it's all about that beef stew. I don't necessarily like The Druid burger as the best ever, but for 8 bucks and some lively atmosphere (and local to me), I'm sold.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MB fka MB

      I'll have to go back in the wintertime to try the beef stew. Can't get myself to do so in the summer. A woman sitting near me was eating the roasted chicken, which smelled delicious.

    2. I live 2 blocks from O'Sullivan's, car-free, so I eat there nearly weekly during Redsox season, and in fact weekly when winter/snowstorms rule everywhere else out (Sully's is always open). I love love lurve their burgers/hate their fries. The Blackjack burger in particular is heavenly.

      But yesterday I convinced my DH to try a Druid burger, inspired by Hound raves. He liked it a lot, but he didn't gush, nor swear off Sully's. I had the (good) fish sandwich, and while the fries were better than Sully's, they are still on that mealy vector I can't stand. Plus Druid offers exactly one style of burger, whereas Sully's lists a several-page menu of toppings.

      Me, I'm sticking with Sully's.

      5 Replies
      1. re: daigle

        I did forget to mention that for those who like the myriad of toppings, The Druid is out. I personally prefer a burger that's not overwhelmed with other stuff on it, which is why I ordered the Paddy-o-Melt at O'Sullivan (and even then wished I had just ordered a plain cheeseburger, as I always do at Bartley's). As I mentioned, though, I did like the way The Druid prepared its burger: cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion and mayo.

        1. re: Blumie

          Those toppings on the Druid burger are great, as are the fries, but I can't get past that herby concoction added to the meat which is what makes it for a lot of people here. I like good quality meat unadorned by anything other than salt and pepper. Any additions should come afterwards IMHO. A burger sounds good even at 8:40AM but must be good til Prezza tonite.

          1. re: Joanie

            I did get a distinct taste of basil, but there might have been fresh basil leaves right on top of the burger, which easily could be taken off. Anyone know if that's the case?

            1. re: Blumie

              Fresh basil was abundantly mixed into the meat in the burger I had Wednesday. The waitress confirmed.

        2. re: daigle

          Inspired by the many burger threads on chowhound, I dragged my husband to three of the favorites: Charlie's Kitchen, R.F. O'Sullivan's, and The Druid. While all were very good, I was surprised at how different they were.

          For us, the Druid was the best. Simple burger with fresh herbs in the meat with some mayo and sweet onions. I could see how some people might be put off by the slightly spongier feel to the burger due to the various seasonings, but it wasn't a problem for me because the patty was so flavorful! The fries also had some herbs and plenty of salt, wonderfully crisp. However, for those who like lots of burger toppings and choices, it's not ideal. We also had the recommended fish sandwich, which was just plain awful. There was certainly a lot of fish in the sandwich but it tasted like unseasoned scrod from frozen. All the malt vinegar and salt I added couldn't save it. Next time, we'll get two burgers.

          While I had been to Charlie's for beers before, I had never had the burgers. I found the double cheeseburger to be surprisingly good. The patties are much thinner, but they did a good job of cooking them to order. It's a human-sized burger (you can actually get your mouth around it), and the seasonings and beef texture all come together nicely. Bonus is that we can get 2 lobster salad rolls for $10 and then the burger to share. They have waffle fries and straight cut ones that are both well-seasoned.

          Maybe it was all the hype, but R.F. O'Sullivan's was our least favorite. The burger is a bit of a monster to get your mouth around, but it was cooked to medium rare perfectly. I felt that the jiucy yet less flavorful patty needed the various toppings. I enjoyed my mushroom and swiss while the spouse enjoyed one with ham, bacon, and cheese on it. As repeated many times, the fries don't even resemble fries but are more like slabs of potato. They're tasty but just not what you would expect from fries. I wouldn't bar going back there because everything was good, but I wouldn't bring my friends telling them that it's the best burger in Cambridge.

          To complete my Cambridge burger testing, I have to try that jalapeno burger at Miracle of Science and probably brave the lines of Bartley's (I don't remember it living up to the hype years ago).

        3. I like them both for different reasons. It's tough to compare the two, as the burgers are very different. But both places are on my top 10 list for burgers!

          1 Reply
          1. re: hiddenboston

            Yes, in fairness, both likely would be on my top 10, too. It's just that The Druid would be higher up on the list.

          2. I wish you could link to specific replies in threads. Anyway, the Druid is not a burger place. If I want a basically plain or cheeseburger, I might hit the Druid in the future. If I want bacon, cheese, different spices, or any of the other 50 toppings available on a burger at Sully's, I'll hit Sully's.

            If it Miracle of Science that has the jalapeno burger (with the peppers mixed into the ground beef as opposed to just placed on top of the cooked burger)?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Dax

              You can. Link to the "permalink".

              Wow. I had no idea this was a 5 year old thread. I just read "August 11." Apologies.

            2. Miracle has the Roniburger, which has jalapenos mixed in----really good. Miracle is my go to for burgers now, I just think their consistency is much better than O'Sullivan's.

              1 Reply
              1. re: DoubleMan

                Miracle does have the jalapenos mixed right in (the first time I ordered it, I thought they had forgotten to give me my jalapenos because I didn't see any on top). Does the O'Sullivan jalapeno burger have the peppers mixed in or on top?

              2. I can't believe what I'm reading on this thread. I went to the Druid for the first time(to eat) because my friend swore it was the best burger she's ever had. I'm a big burger guy and have had most of the "best" burgers in the city. In fact just the night before I had my first 5 Napkin burger, expensive but juicy and tasty without being greasy.

                But I'm reading comparisons between Druid and RF O'Sullivans and can't believe ANYBODY would choose a Druid burger. I ordered the cheeseburger as it was listed on the menu. People are talking mayo? I saw no listing of mayo on the menu and as I'm allergic to it would NEVER get it on a burger. So it came with lettuce, tomato and grilled onions with only cheddar as a cheese opiton. The toppings were fine, it's hard to mess them up. But the burger? Wow, not even in the same league as any of the heavyweights. It was mealy and flavorless. I thought I was eating a soy burger! I'm not sure if they put something in the beef like bread crumbs but I could hardly tell it was beef I was eating. I can't recommend this burger to ANYBODY. Really, I feel that strongly about the poor quality of the meat. Don't get me started on the fries which while I like my fries with the skins left on these were too greasy and limp. They were seasoned just fine with salt and pepper but I'm not sure of what other people are talking about in terms of other spices. I'm sure their other food choices are good and I was tempted by the beef stew but for a burger? No thanks.

                Oh and by the way, it's not as if the burger is cheap. It was $11 for the cheeseburger. For that price give me 2 from Tasty Burger or 1 from RF or 5 Napkin etc.

                Tasty Burger
                1301 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116

                2 Replies
                1. re: indieguy

                  "It was $11 for the cheeseburger"

                  You realize that prices might have gone up just a penny or two in the *5* years since this thread went on?

                  1. While I agree with you, Highland Kitchen is better than both RFO's and Druid.

                    Highland Kitchen
                    150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: treb

                      Highland Kitchen didn't exist when this thread was started.

                      Highland Kitchen
                      150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                      1. re: jgg13

                        Please consider my post and update.

                        1. re: treb

                          It's fun to see a post I started five years ago resurrected! I'll need to conduct a more scientific test, but I think I prefer Druid's burger to Highland Kitchen's.