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Sep 5, 2010 06:28 PM

Tasty Burger

Anyone go yet??

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  1. We went on Labour Day prior to the Red Sox game. They had just opened the day before. Walking in around 5, the place was empty of people and I was surprised to see a bar and waitresses. I assumed it was more of a counter-service, fast food-type place. We sat at the patio outside, watching the foot and vehicle traffic on Boylston. Draft beer selection wasn't great, but five bucks for what seemed like a generous pint of Harpoon IPA was more than reasonable for the neighborhood. Besides burgers the menu had a couple special hot dogs, some chicken sandwiches, and the usual sides. We ordered a standard cheeseburger and a gorgonzola burger with fries and onion strings. The burgers were excellent. (Everything was served fast food-style; burgers wrapped in paper, fries in a box.) They didn't ask how we wanted burgers cooked (which I know rankles many here) and they came out medium-well. But they were still juicy without being greasy, with just a slight pink hue to the drippings. The standard cheeseburger had lettuce and tomato (nothing special) on a densely sesame studded and flavorful soft roll. The gorgonzola burger was the same except for the cheese and was a drippy mess that tasted really good. The burgers themselves seemed similar in quality, size, and texture to UBurger. At four bucks, the standard burger seemed like an OK value. The special burgers are $7, which seems expensive. Sides are extra, at mostly $4. The fries were excellent. Thin, hot, brown, really crispy right down to the bottom of the box. The onion strings were good, but the onions (red onions, I think) were cut so thin that even the light-handed batter overwhelmed the onionness. You needed to eat a handful to get any discernible onion flavor. $32 for two burgers, fries, strings, a coke, and a beer, with tip. I'd definitely return, but if I happened to be walking to Fenway from the other side and wanted a burger, I probably wouldn't pass by UBurger and come here, unless I wanted a beer and outdoor seating with a solid and cheap burger.

    1. As soon as I walked in, I really wanted to like this place, but the burgers disappointed on several counts. First, the burger came out literally 2 minutes after our order was placed, and although there were only 4 or 5 other parties in the joint at the time, it immediately raised my suspicion that the burger was not made to order but rather pre-made and sitting around for someone to order it. I got a regular burger with two patties and cheese (not specified on the menu which type, and ended up being a gloopy, poorly melting cheddar) for $6 thinking that the patties would be about the size of the ones at UBurger based on jpsox's previous post. However, these patties were atleast 1 or 2 ounces bigger each, and one patty would definitely have been sufficient. Came wrapped in wax paper, with iceberg lettuce and thinly sliced tomato. At first glance, looked like a Five Guys burger much more than a UBurger burger in construction and size. Bun was a squishy white roll with sesame seeds. All condiments are in a tray at the table. I asked for pickles and raw onions on the side so I could tweak as necessary. The patties were clearly grilled and not griddled, and other than a few very thin grill marks, there was no crust or char on the patty at all. In addition, it was cooked completely well-done, and not juicy. They describe the patty as made from "tenderloin" and maybe this accounts for this. I've never had a burger made from tenderloin, and the flavor was just not right. Cheese looked like it was melted at some point, but by the time it got to the table, it had solidified somewhat and the patty nor the cheese were hot, again making me think this burger had been sitting around for a while. The bun had not been griddled either, and overall, I simply did not like this burger.

      The 50/50 fry/onion ring combo is a good deal at $4. Fries tasted like they were cooked in peanut oil, but were a little soggy. The onion rings (red onions) were extremely thin which makes it so that you get a lot more batter in relation to onion than most onion rings, which, in this case, isn't such a bad thing because they season the batter really nicely. The main problem is that despite them being very crispy, they are hard to dip in ketchup because as you grab a hnadful of these things and dunk them into the ketchup, they are so flimsy that they crumple in your hand instead of actually getting dipped into the pool of ketchup. I think cutting the onions just a little thicker would make these rings very good...

      Overall, even if this place were cheaper, I'd rather go to UBurger or Five Guys any day.

      15 Replies
      1. re: Mike5966

        a burger shack is not trying if fries are cooked in peanut oil; sorry.

        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

          I've read that peanut oil is actually considered the french fry oil of choice after beef tallow maybe. What would you use?

          1. re: T.Clark

            How about duck or goose fat though beef tallow is acceptable. At one time, Mickey D's even used beef tallow, I believe, and had the reputation of the best commercial fries going.

            I understand chacun son for those who like peanut oil.

            1. re: cambridgedoctpr

              You really think, after looking at what this concept is, that duck or goose fat is a viable option? A 'Burger Shack' using duck fat (goose is even more laughable) is antithetical to what people are looking for in a relatively inexpensive QSR. Duck fat has it's place and a high volume 'burger shack' trying to give value is not one of them.

              Shake Shake is the epitome of burger shacks and what everyone wants to be. They use peanut oil. Peanut oil is chosen for it's lack of imparting taste and for having the desired high smoking point.

              1. re: T.Clark

                Doug's Dogs uses duck fat; and as I said, even Mickey D's used to use beef tallow.

                I am not suggesting using the fat of the ortelon for my fries.

                if you like fries done in peanut oil, as I said, chacune son gout.

                The reason that McDonald's changed their recipe was to convince people that their fries were healthy not for economic reasons, I was lead to understand.

                1. re: T.Clark

                  I've had great peanut oil fries, but Shake Shack's were horrible. Maybe I got a bad batch, but they seemed like what hit the floor off the ore ida crinkle cut line, fried in rancid oil. Loved the burger and shake, though.

                  1. re: nsenada

                    Also not a huge fan of the SS fries. They're frozen Youkon Gold, bad choice IMO. My point however is that you would have a hard time getting consistently great fries using duck fat in a high volume place. Not to mention the cost would seem to be a bit more and if you're trying to keep the place affordable then duck fat is not going to cut it.

                    I've had great fries cooked in duck fat, bad fries cooked in peanut oil and vice versa. I think you need to know your audience and I have a hard time thinking people are going to go to Tasty Burger because they serve duck fat fries. However I can see people avoiding it for that reason.

                    1. re: T.Clark

                      if Mickey D's could sell mass market beef tallow fries for more than a decade, I do not think that this is beyond the capacity of an average restaurant.

                      I do not think that good fries done in peanut oil measure up to those done with animal fat. And there are plenty of places, such as Hot Doug's and other sausage joints in Chi-town that is the furthest thing from Per Se that manage to do that. But you may not agree that fries cooked in animal fat are intrinsically better. That has been my experience.

                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                        So far the best fries I've ever had were in Balthazar in NYC and at Bouchon in Napa. These are both fried in peanut oil. I assure you, these places take their fries seriously and are "trying."

                        That said, I just haven't had the opportunity to try many examples of fries made with animal fat, and I was too young to appreciate any difference back in the day when McDonald's stopped using beef tallow. I'm pretty sure well-made fries would taste great and that there's a good chance I'd like them better than peanut oil fries. After all, to me, Grandma Utz potato chips in the brown paper bag packaging were the best chips that Utz put out back in the day -- they were fried in lard. I'd love to try some animal fat fries here in Boston. Which joints serve them?

                        1. re: Mike5966

                          My experience with duck fat fries is limited to Chicago; maybe it is more of a mdwest thing. This is the standard method of doing fries at Belgian restaurants and should be available in NYC though I cannot vouch for them. Perhaps at DBGB, Daniel Boulud's restaurant though I have never eaten there.

                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                            Duck Fat in Portland uses some percentage of the eponymous lipids in their fries. I think they are excellent, some disagree. They are fluffier and lighter than some people like. I know The Clam Box uses beef tallow for their clams, not sure about the fries. I'm usually so distracted by the awesomeness of the clams that I don't focus on the fries.

                            1. re: nsenada

                              duck fat in portland uses 25% duck fat and the rest is canola to fry the fries. i LOVE THEM.

                      2. re: T.Clark

                        My experience with SS fries has been good -- and I've had them probably over 20 times spread across 3 locations. I realize they may not have pedigree, but they've been correctly crisp (on the exterior) and greaseless. My personal preference is for the extremes of French fry experience -- either thin, shoestringy fries, or thick wedges with a deep brown, crisp exterior and a meltingly soft interior (these last are particularly good when made with animal fats) -- but still I like the SS crinkle cut ones. The choice of a neutral tasting fat might not be a bad one in this case. There's nothing to compete with the rich beefy taste of the SS burger, or the rich mouthfeel of the shakes and soft serve.

              2. re: cambridgedoctpr

                I have to disagree with this... I think peanut oil makes fries taste great if they're made well. If they're not made well, it doesn't matter what kind of oil you use. Unfortunately, on the one occasion I went, this place didn't make them well.

                What oil do you think a burger place has to use to prove they're "trying"? Regular vegetable oil fries are great if made well, as are fries made from cottonseed oil or others that don't impart too strong of a flavor. I think there are ton of places out there that make great fries and take them seriously without having to use duck fat or lard or other more "serious" fry oils.

                1. re: Mike5966

                  Quite. Now canola oil, THAT is proof that someone isn't taking the frying seriously. Peanut oil is a noble medium.

            2. Stopped in last night and had the double burger with cheese and bacon. Not bad but not great either. I have some of the other concerns that others had but in addition found the patties to be poorly seasoned if at all. Hopefully these are opening kinks to be worked out. The fact that their take out window serves pretty close to 2 a.m. is something that this city desperately needs. If they can get it working on every level I think they could do very well.

              5 Replies
              1. re: mats77

                here's my quick take on tasty burger:
                burger - better than expected. much better than uburger. closer to 5 guys or wild willy's. had a double without cheese.
                fries - not so great. prefer the places mentioned above for fries
                shake - shake had an odd taste...not sure if it was the syrup or the ice cream.

      's about the burgers and this was a really decent burger for the price.

                  1. re: mats77

                    wanted to keep it simple for the first go round

                    1. re: hungryone

                      Tenderloin burgers thats a new one why would you make burgers with the least flavorful cut

                      1. re: hungryone

                        The problem I usually find with shakes is that they "oversyrup" them. I usually do 1 - 2 chocolate shakes a week & I find if I don't ask for just 1 squirt - or no syrup - the shakes taste funny. There's only one place that I go to regularly (since the Brighams behind my office closed) that gets it right without me having to tell them how to make it ...... unfortunately it's Brusters in Nashua, NH, so it's a bit out of the way for most people on this board. Still looking for a decent shake in the Financial District since Brighams closed (and a decent smoothie since Roebecks closed too).

                1. Veggie burger was pretty good and the fries/onion rings are cooked away from meat (one of my friends works there and it passes her vegan-standards). All seemed to work well with the Brooklyn Lager off of their beer menu.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: yarm

                    my vegetarian girlfriend hated the veggie burger. Had a bite myself, tasted like stuffing from a box.

                    1. re: rchudy

                      Already changing things up here, ditched the tenderloin, now using Omaha beef burgers from Chuck Steak. Burgers are also bigger I'm told. I realize new restaurants have kinks to work out in the initial stages, but I find all the menu changes troublesome.

                      1. re: rchudy

                        This is a good example of why new restaurants need time to work out the kinks, and why it's often a good idea to hold off until that shakedown cruise period is over. I'm glad to see they're responding to customer feedback.

                        I have to say, this one seemed kind of an obvious misstep. When I tweeted about it, five different professional chefs responded to me, saying in so many words, "What are they thinking? Clearly, tenderloin is a dumb choice."


                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          I agree, I think to be overly critical on such a new establishment can be unfair, but I also think recipe testing and experimentation should be done before an opening, not use the general public as guinea pigs and change it up after one month. Having said that, figuring out the kinks and mistakes is inevitable, it's how they adjust and adapt along the way that will test their success or failure.

                          1. re: rchudy

                            Yep, it looks like opening up a new restaurant is really, really hard, even for folks with a lot of experience and several successful places under their belts (the Franklins). New concept, new neighborhood, new location. I'm pulling for them, so I'm relieved to hear the tenderloin burger experiment is over.


                        2. re: rchudy

                          Glad to hear this! I'd be more than willing to give this burger another try after the changes. They did create a nice burger-eating environment.

                          1. re: rchudy

                            Burgers are definitely big. I got a double because I thought they were thin patties like Flat Patties, and the bun couldn't really handle it (neither could my stomach).

                            Flat Patties
                            81 Mount Auburn St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                            1. re: maillard

                              That's exactly what happened to me! Hopefully with the single patty and getting rid of the tenderloin, it will be much better.

                      2. Agree with Slim; any new place needs a little bit of time to figure their stuff out, even if it's only burgers and fries. They seem like they have some good ideas and are willing to try new things, such as using tenderloin for their burgers. Yes it flies in the face of conventional burger wisdom, but these things need to be tested every now and again to remind us all of why they are a bad idea in practice. Kudos for taking the jump, even if it didnt work out.

                        As for the French Fry discussion, there are a number of things to keep in mind. Off the bat, frying in duck fat or other kinds of animal fat poses a number of logistical problems. First, it's crazy expensive, so if you want to serve a cheap to medium priced fry, good luck. It also means that if you want to produce in volume, you're more or less SOL. In addition, fries can work in duck fat if they're blanched pretty hard first, but a lot of other things wont, so it kinda limits what else you can put on the menu. You cant really leave duck fat in a fryolator overnight and would have to change it out so often as to be ridiculous.

                        When it comes to the canola vs. peanut discussion, they're really quite similar in terms of flavor and texture when it comes to the actual frying process, and both are valuable because of their very high smoking points (peanut is slightly higher, I believe). Outside of that, it really just depends on whether the fries are hand cut or not and how fresh they are, how they are blanched before they are fried for service, and how often the oil is changed. You are going to get canola and peanut for the most part though because of cost, and also because they have multiple other uses in the kitchen besides going into the fryolator.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: SonOfAllston

                          Not only that but presumably these places need to keep their fries acceptable to vegetarians.

                          1. re: chickendhansak

                            Went back today, chatted with the owners and chefs. Still using tenderloin, but it's a blend with chuck, still fell a little short for me, but they seem very committed to improving and are clearly listening to the feedback. Very passionate group of personnel that wont stop until the burger is where it needs to be. So that's a good sign certainly.

                          2. re: SonOfAllston

                            in the good old days, Mickey D's fried their potatoes in lard, i believe. At that time, they were thought to be exceptional commercial fries. If McDonald's was able to surmount the logistical problems, and they had a huge number of sites, i am surprised that other restaurants cannot.

                            Doug's in Chicago makes duck fries, by the way, and they cost 3.50 expensive but not exorbitant.

                            1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                              Cause I'm such a dorkbrain food nerd. I believe McD's used to use mostly beef tallow, not lard:


                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                thank you for the correction; you seem to know everything.

                                Still, have you tried Doug's fries? They cost 3.50 rather than the usual 1.25 at Doug's, but I think that fries in animal are worth the effort. And I rarely eat anything made out of a potato.

                                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                  I have not tried Doug's, but animal fat is goooooood.