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Some recent ponderings on burgers - a burger crawl, if you will

In the spirit of one of my favorite posters to read, finlero, recently I got a group together to taste a bunch of Cambridge & Somerville's burgers in an early effort to avoid frostbite by filling our stomachs with something warm.

Here is what I like in a burger so you can adjust the comparison to your own preference:
rare meat
a softer, juicy center
seasoned with s&p, at least
a sear on the outside, at least, some crunch is ok
a good bun:burger ratio

Here is the ranking:

#1 Miracle of Science
Amazing, juicy, flavorful, soft meat, perfectly cooked burger. The only down point was that the disk of meat flopped over the edges of the bun, which was sourdough, but worked with the juiciness of the burger; it didn't disintegrate or fall apart, and had enough heft to hold up to the deliciousness covered with blue cheese. I cannot stop talking about this burger.

#2 Bartley's
Again, I like the thinner-style burger and the meat to bread ratio is absolutely perfect. I love that they have sweet potato fries, which might skew the issue a little bit, but they cook to order and my burger stays in tact the whole time.

#3 Garden at the Cellar
This burger is perfectly tasty, and even with its inferior brioche bun, it still stands out.

#3 Gargoyles
Fleshy, perfectly seared, gigantic, with incredibly tasty accompaniments. The bun:burger ratio is good as well. The issue here is that I never end up eating the burger because of the ways that Santos can handle a duck leg. (BTW, the potato stick & smoked almond cheese fondue was on their stimulus menu. If you're hitting that up this week it's goooood.)

#5 Druid
I like the burger here, though it's a bit thick for my taste, but the ginger kick is special enough to keep it interesting. The reason it's not ranked higher is due to the burger to bun ratio - it's just all wrong. Several times now, my burger has fallen completely apart - that's not a happy burger situation!

#6 R.F. O'Sullivan's
Dry, flavorless, tough, little to no juice, hard to get my mouth around. This is not my perfect burger, but others do like it. I think I've finally put Sully's to rest, for me at least. I'm glad I like their steaktips though - a good reason to return!

Places I still need to try, but just could not stomach at the time:
Flatpatties
4 Burgers
lots of places on the other side of the river

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  1. I don't see the hype with the Miracle of Science burger. I thought it was pretty poor in my opinion to be honest. all I could taste was grease and a grease soaked bun. the lack of fries didn't really help them either. All burger places should offer an American cheese option.

    I'm very partial to Highland Kitchen's burger. Have you tried it?

    6 Replies
    1. re: ysb

      Second Highland Kitchen's burger and also would add Dante's upscale burger to the mix.

      My favorite is Bartleys but I do love that Druid burger and haven't experienced the burger meltdown myself. Maybe I eat it too quickly for it to dissolve the bun?

      Mmmmm..... burgers.

      1. re: ysb

        I ate my burger at Miracle with a salad, so I don't really care about the fries issue. American cheese has no place anywhere near anything that resembles food, in my opinion, and I certainly don't want it on my burger.

        I didn't eat the HK burger during this crawl, but yes, it's quite nice - without american cheese.

        1. re: gini

          I have been enjoying the Roni burger at Miracle for many years now - it is has been consistently fresh, well-made, the right size/shape and cooked exactly as ordered with that tasty pepperjack slice properly melted and placed onto an fresh, adequate bun that could be improved (better quality bread and well-toasted) - I love Bartleys, too, but I can't say the same about the consistency there (though they have the onion strings...)

          1. re: gini

            The MoS burger is the only one I've tried out of that list, and I agree it's really good, especially the Roni. I for one don't miss the fries (did I just say that?), I think the roasted potatoes they serve are very tasty.

            And I have to agree with gini's thoughts on American cheese. Well put.

          2. re: ysb

            i agree about Miracle of Science. I thought their burger was greasy.

            1. re: ysb

              Make sure to get the "Roni burger" at the Miracle of Science. The chile kick adds a lot.

            2. Burgers are a little like pizza in the respect that opinions vary so widely on them. I'm not quite as big a fan of O'Sullivan's burgers because I find them to be a bit more inconsistent these days, but I still like them a lot. Like you, I'd probably put Bartley's above it, and The Druid somewhere in between.

              I'll be interested to hear what you think of Flat Patties. I thought the burger there was good, but the bun overwhelmed it, and the shredded pork sandwich was heads and shoulders above it, IMO.

              BTW, I was really looking forward to going to the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago last week (the CHEESEBORGER CHEESEBORGER CHEESEBORGER place from SNL), but it basically turned out to be a tourist trap, and the burgers weren't very good.

              1. I had a burger at Marliave (downstairs) recently and it was quite good - lightly seasoned (I distinctly dislike burger seasonings beyond salt & pepper), very tasty, almost too thick (roughly 4" wide by 2" thick), on a probably house-made soft bun, accompanied by seriously delicious rosemary-dusted fries - if the fries had only been crisper I would nominate them for an award.

                1 Reply
                1. re: BobB

                  I thought the taste of the Marliave burger was amazing but it needed to be spread out more to fit the bun. Yes, too thick with too much leftover bun, which i loved (awesomely toasted).

                2. Your nerdy scientific precision, it pleases me.

                  This thread is the tipping point, I have really got to get me to Miracle of Science and Garden at the Cellar. And I totally agree about the Gargoyles burger; it's one of Davis Square's real chow treasures.

                  Thanks for the shout-out! Your informed, prolific, and fun posts ain't half bad either. :)

                  1. You go girl!

                    I think some old GF of mine was a cardiologist if you need a consult ;-).

                    1. I really enjoyed Miracle of Science's burger also- but honestly, I just had the 4burger.... burger, and I thought it was great. I can't wait to hear your opinion on it!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: voodoocheese

                        The roni burger at MoS is solid. I recently tried Four Burgers and I really liked it. It was cooked medium rare as i requested which is sometimes half the battle and the quality of the meat was very good. Even though its counter service, I was impressed with the staff for their efficiency in cleaning the tables and their friendliness. I'm glad they serve beer there too. But I have 3 issues with FB: 1) I don't really want to hang out in FB longer than it takes to down that burger because its too brightly lit and just not that comfortable(whereas at MoS I can lounge around for a while); 2)as delicious as the burger was I wish it was just a little bit bigger; 3) the pickles tasted like garbage.

                        I guess half of those comments are not about the burger itself but with so many choices in the city around the same price range I think atmosphere comes into play.

                        1. re: heypielady

                          I haven't gone in a while but the handful of times I went they were inconsistent on how they cooked it. I always ordered "medium rare" and when they hit it it was great, but ...

                          OTOH, it's nothing like O'Sullivans for inconsistency

                      2. I thought Bartley's was overrated. Generally, when I want a burger in Harvard Sq, I go to Charlie's Kitchen, which is a dive, but they do a pretty good burger. And they serve beer. (Come to think of it, the lack of beer may explain my dislike of Bartley's.)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ljw7

                          The super-crowded noisy yelling undergrad, share a table, elbows in your back crowded vibe bums me out as well...

                        2. One wouldn''t think of Craigie on Main when it comes to burgers (except for CH's that is), but noticed they have the following listed on their new Bar Menu:

                          The Best Burger 15
                          local grass-fed beef, Cantal cheese, home-made bun, crispy onion rings

                          Looks like a must try!

                          http://www.craigieonmain.com/?page_id...