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Improper Best Burger - Radius

  • c

Just got a chance to read Improper Bostonian's "Best" edition. Not bad over-all, certainly better constructed than the ode to one's own advertisers at Boston Magazine.

Best Burger - Radius. And I agree. Say what you want about the restaurants over-all but I prefer the Radius burger to Craigie St and Neptune.

Other correct picks: Ban Mi - Mei Sum, Bakery - Flour, Steakhouse - Grill 23

Counter-Chow: Seafood - Legal

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Grill 23 & Bar
161 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116

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  1. I wasn't impressed with the Craigie burger either and although I have never tried the Radius burger I can't imagine it being better than the one at Sel de la Terre. Perfect medium rare with caramelized onions on fresh bread. I've been back five times and its always great. I go to the location in the Natick mall.

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    Sel de la Terre
    1245 Worcester Street, Natick, MA 01760

    2 Replies
    1. re: Snoop37

      And it looks like Boston Magazine just named the Sel de la Terre burger "Best Upscale Burger" in Boston for 2010.... ha

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      Sel de la Terre
      774 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02199

      1. re: Snoop37

        Craigie over Radius any day, Sel de la Terre is a lesser version of both, IMO. I'll take the cheaper Toro or Russell House burger.

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        Toro
        1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

      2. Just kind of glanced through the Improper issue, but in general it seems to have far fewer ridiculous, "your sponsor clearly paid for that" kind of awards these days. When they recognize talented bartenders, it's no longer just about boobies and pecs, which is great progress, in my book.

        Clearly just a matter of preference, but among the luxury, not-just-a-straight-up-burger burgers, I wasn't wowed by the Radius burger, think the Craigie burger kills it.

        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

        4 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          You are clearly down playing the importance a good chest plays in making a cocktail.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            They still do many "your sponsor clearly paid for that" stuff. Why do you think Upper Crust is "best pizza" every year and for a long while "Best Margarita" was going to Cactus Club or every year Anna's Taqueria wins best burrito. Hmm, have you noticed Cactus Club doesn't advertise anymore and they haven't won "Best Margarita" in a few years??? Sure they throw in a few non-advertisers to make it seem "legit" but for the most part, it's about the advertisers and those spending big bucks. They'll invent awards for them too just so the clients don't get mad. I worked there and saw the behind the scenes stuff. It'd always bother me that people would criticize Boston Mag, but really, Improper is doing the same thing...they may just throw in a few more non advertisers to throw the reader off. And yes, having judges who owned restaurants...many end up getting awards as a result.

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            Cactus Club Restaurant & Bar
            939 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02115

            1. re: BackBayGirl

              Agree. The best was the year they had Joanne Chang as a JUDGE on the panel... and Flour and two of her husband's restaurants got awards.

          2. Let me preface by saying that I am a big fan of Ken Oringer and most of his restaurants BUT the Improper really kills it's credibility in my book by naming four of Oringer's restaurants on the list when he is one of the judges.

            1. lately i've become a fan of the Russell house tavern burger over the Radius burger. very meaty, good crust on the patty, buttered English muffin. fries not great but not bad.

              1 Reply
              1. re: barleywino

                Nonetheless, i think that Oringer's restaurants are among the best in Boston. I am a big fan of Clio's and liked Coppa, too. Liking so may of his restaurants is understandable.

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                Coppa
                253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

              2. Here's hoping that the fancy-pants burger war dies like the cup cake craze. Give me a 60/40 Animal style at $3.25 over a manipulated corn sauce smothered mess or a "cooked for 37 hours immersion bath patty" any day.

                22 Replies
                1. re: T.Clark

                  Is that on principle, or have you tried those burgers?

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    manipulated corn sauce patty smothered in 37 hour mess?

                  2. re: T.Clark

                    They're really not the same thing at all and shouldn't be directly compared. By and large the only reason I see for someone to object to the fancy burgers would be simply that "no burger is worth that much", not unlike a friend of my family who believes that no beer is worth more than what BMC macrolagers sell for. Otherwise, if you don't want one, don't get one.

                    1. re: jgg13

                      Judging a burger by it's price is just wrong. No burger is great just because it's a bargain, as no burger is great just because it costs an arm and a leg. jgg13 is correct, you cannot compare entirely different burger types, or beer, based on price alone.

                    2. re: T.Clark

                      Its obvious you're referring to the Toro burger as the corn sauce smothered mess and at 8 dollars (with or without the aioli) its a fantastic burger.

                      I'll take Radius over Craigie straight up. For brunch, Craigie allows the option of adding pork belly and/or a fried egg to the top of their burger. I don't think I've ever had something more decadent in my life. Wow

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                      Toro
                      1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                      1. re: T.Clark

                        I'm sure that Boston's top chefs turn out fantastic tasting burgers. If people enjoy a hand crafted burger with a 1/2 cup of elote sauce on top (as Kenji sure did) than I'm happy for them. If another person likes fried eggs and pork belly that's great too. Money is not important, you pay what you think is fair.

                        Making frou frou burgers and smothering them with luxury ingredients started with the DB burger 10 years ago and, IMO, it's becoming a bit passe. Remember when everyone was using Kobe or versions of it? Now its Suet, short rib, brisket.

                        I've eaten the elote at Toro and it was good. Not earth shattering as has been described here, but then again it wasn't a first for me. The corn was under a MOUND of sour cream/mayo/cotija and quite honestly the heavy hand disgusted me. So giving a burger the same treatment doesn't appeal to me. likewise when I read about the extremes some chefs go to (sous-vide) make their burger different I have to ask myself do you really want to think that much about a hamburger? For me the answer is no. I've come full circle and I just want a tasty burger without all the fuss and I want to eat it in a place that feels like a burger place. Sorry to get y'all so worked up.

                        1. re: T.Clark

                          I think you have to try the Toro burger before you judge it. I don't like my burgers all fussy either, but there is something about this one (perhaps its manageable size?) that I really adore.

                          When you've tasted it, come back and let us all know how it was.

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                          Toro
                          1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                          1. re: yumyum

                            Like I said I'm sure it's great. I've just come to the realization that expectations for better burgers are becoming passe (for me). Have you tried the Spotted Pig burger, Louis' Lunch, Shake Shack? I have. All great. But they were all, in the end, burgers.

                            Maybe I just don't like "Best of lists" or Top Ten lists in general. They always incite the obvious argument : according to who?

                            I will put both burgers on my list of must eat in September when I'll be in the City again.

                            1. re: T.Clark

                              I've tried all the burgers you list, because I'm a nut. But I agree ... at the end of the day it's just a burger. OTOH, for food freaks when is it ever "just a burger"?

                              I'm just saying try it. You might like it. And either way, come back and tell us about it.. That's what the board is about.

                              1. re: T.Clark

                                "But they were all, in the end, burgers."

                                Can't that be said about any food one eats? It's ridiculous (IMHO) to suggest that because all are labled "burgers" that one should be indifferent to the distinctions among them. I don't think one possibly can argue that there are not extreme differences in the quality of the products being produced.

                                I agree that "best of" lists are of limited value (although we on chowhound love to get into "best of" debates), but it's of equally limited value to take an entire category of food and lump them all together saying, "they were all, in the end, burgers."

                                1. re: Blumie

                                  My point was: what was once a simple pleasure has become a must-have-on-menu oxymoron for upscale restaurants trying to stay relevant in a bad economy. As Bordain says "a bit silly". I'll let you folks debate this one but can you throw in how the fries taste as well? Because a great burger deserves great fries!

                                  1. re: T.Clark

                                    I hear you. Just don't throw out the baby with the bath water. Otherwise, we can't enjoy, among other things, burgers, cupcakes, or pizza (although I don't think the upscale pizza craze has hit Boston like it's hit in NYC -- at least not yet).

                                    The next craze looking to take off in NYC (which means expect it to hit Boston in 2011) is upscale ice cream sandwiches!

                                      1. re: Blumie

                                        next craze == poutine. it's already happening. a year from now we're going to have foie gras poutine confit with a poached goose egg on top

                                        1. re: jgg13

                                          Foie gras poutine is an old idea. Montreal's Au Pied de Cochon originated it years ago. I've been giving out a "foie gras poutine award" for excellence in unlikely settings at Stuff Magazine since 2008.

                                          The first Boston place to copy the idea was The Beehive a while back. Pops and Harvest have done luxury poutines for at least a year. The Gallows does four versions with two gravies each: traditional, vegetable, foie gras, and an "out-of-control" daily special that usually features some kind of offal.

                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                            APdC's menu is actually where I pulled the idea from (I was just looking at it the other day while planning a trip to montreal). That being said, it does seem like poutine is becoming the new "it" thing to me - like w/ the Gallows as you mention.

                                        2. re: Blumie

                                          I saw some crazy-good-looking (and I guess "upscale") ice cream sandwiches in Columbus, OH.

                                          1. re: Blumie

                                            Edit: this is supposed to be in response to Blumie.

                                          2. re: T.Clark

                                            I don't know: I think a good dish is a good dish. To me, there's plenty of room both for classic treatments and wild innovations that stretch the definitions of the category.

                                            I think most Chowhounds are able to filter out PR hysteria, ignore the halo of trendiness, and assess dishes on their own merits. In any event, I try not to pass judgment on dishes I haven't actually tried.

                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                        3. re: T.Clark

                                          Thanks for the shoutout. I did love the toro burger!

                                          For the record, I don't think Louis Lunch is any good. It's got style, but I don't find myself wanting the burger again like I do the Pig's, the Shack's, or Toro's. I don't understand the argument though - what's so off the map about the Toro burger? It's just a plain old grilled burger that happens to have a signature sauce that goes on top of it. The basics are still the basics, and those are what make the burger great. The sauce is just the icing on the cake. They use good meat, cook it right, don't mess around with it, don't screw with the bun, I mean, it's about as basic as a burger can get, and by my definition, that's what makes a great burger (nothing fancy, just everything in its right place)

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                                          Toro
                                          1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                                    1. re: T.Clark

                                      The Radius burger is pretty classic, but simply amped up a bit: topped with crispy fried onions, horseradish sauce, and fairly sharp cheddar. On better quality bread than you might expect to be served your $3.25 burger on. It's a tasty combination and, IMHO, worth the extra cash. Especially for me personally, since I very rarely eat a burger. I would rather spend a bit more and get something really good.

                                      1. re: T.Clark

                                        I totally agree. Give me an In n Out animal style any day.

                                      2. Since this may well end up being another "best burger in Boston" thread, I'll get my vote in early:

                                        1. Craigie (bar/lounge only)
                                        2. Mistral (bar'/lounge only)

                                        1. I definitely prefer the Craigie burger to the Radius. By the way, has anyone encountered a lardo burger? Seems like a natural burger fashion progression to me (and I am an avowed burger fop).

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: nsenada

                                            I prefer a lardo, suet, duck fat burger with goose fat aioli and whale blubber cracklings.

                                              1. re: Blumie

                                                Thanks, StriperGuy...I just nosed mine.

                                          2. I like fancy burgers, and I don't understand why we can't all get along? =) I want to put in a shout-out for the burger at Highland Kitchen in Somerville, which is among the best I've had in Boston. Great moist bun, terrific caramelized red onions and interesting pickles, and just a wonderfully flavorful burger. I don't like Radius overall, and I haven't tried their burger, but I guess I have to. Still, of all the burgers I've tried, I like R.F. O'Sullivan's burgers best overall, and have a soft spot for Bartley's. And then I also like to make my own, where I tend to incorporate a lot into the ground beef pre-cooking --- some of my favorites are scallions, mustard seeds and paprika.

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                                            Highland Kitchen
                                            150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: lipoff

                                              Wow, lipoff, in one fell swoop you made a recommendation with which I couldn't agree more in the Highland Kitchen burger (perhaps my favorite pub style burger anywhere) and then pivoted 180 degrees to make a recommendation with which I couldn't disagree more in R.F. O'Sullivan's. Sigh. I'm going to forget about Sully's and focus on the Highland burger rec. :)

                                              Full scientific breakdown of my disagreement here thanks the Kenji Lopez Alt: http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2...

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                                              Highland Kitchen
                                              150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                              1. re: BJK

                                                I have been to R.F. O'Sullivan's recently on a couple of occasions, and I felt like the criticisms - often repeated here and on that linked blog - have been accurate in the past but had been remedied on these recent visits. The cheese was properly melted, the burgers perfectly medium rare. Surely it makes a difference of who's manning the grill and would recommend a revisit. (Note: both my visits were in the evening).

                                                Completely agree on the Highland Kitchen burger. There really is not a single thing they do not do well there. And the bartending is excellent, too. Always an interesting new cocktail on the blackboard specials.

                                                @jgg13 below: I definitely need more data points, but I think I detected an improvement in overall quality of late.

                                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                  the 'properly medium rare' thing was always my largest complaint. i got tired of getting anything close to MR only once every 4 or 5 visits (and the rest a very, very well done) that i just said it wasn't worth the hassle.

                                                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                    I'm willing to give it another shot if I'm in the neighborhood, as I've always liked the idea and feel of the place.

                                                    I've just been thoroughly disappointed with (a) cooking to the right temperature, (b) complete lack of seasoning on my preferred straight-up medium rare cheeseburger (i.e. no blue cheese dressing, cole slaw, teriyaki sauce or other flavor enhancers - just give me a tasty burger), (c) the unmelted cheese and (d) the terrible fries (admittedly, nothing to do with the burger, but guilt by association).

                                                    Nonetheless, I carry no grudges and will report back if I ever do find myself back at RFO.

                                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                      The single thing HK does not do well is the fries (though ordering them well done helps somewhat). Otherwise, completely agree.

                                                      1. re: Gabatta

                                                        I remember really liking the fries, and that's based on probably 15 visits, although my last time there was probably 9 months ago. The fries may also have been basking in the glow of that burger. :)

                                                        1. re: BJK

                                                          Maybe that's it. The fries aren't terrible (like O'Sullivans), but IMO not up to the level of the burger.