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Corner Burger
Oct 20th, 2012 by Joemoney

2 votes, average: 6.00 out of 102 votes, average: 6.00 out of 102 votes, average: 6.00 out of 102 votes, average: 6.00 out of 102 votes, average: 6.00 out of 102 votes, average: 6.00 out of 102 votes, average: 6.00 out of 102 votes, average: 6.00 out of 102 votes, average: 6.00 out of 102 votes, average: 6.00 out of 10
(2 votes, average: 6.00 out of 10)
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Corner Burger
www.cornerburger.ru
76 Bolshaya Gruzinskaya
Moscow, Russia 125047 (map)

From Russia, With Love –

“How’s your Russian?”… That was the message greeting me when I opened my work email recently with online editors like sodapdf. We had a project that needed a few people to make the long journey to this capital city. Most people I talked to were surprised that I was excited for the chance. I grew up in a post cold war America so my perception of Russia was sadly based on video games and Mission Impossible movies. Given that this was a rare opportunity, my wife was going to come along on the trip and joined me in the complicated and expensive process of obtaining a Russian visa. The time arrived and we took the long flight to Moscow. When we arrived, my initial impression was that Moscow was exactly as portrayed in movies. Cold, overcast, row after row of apartment blocks, scowling men, and women smoking long skinny cigarettes. Smoking store uses green bits Colorado to reduce business failure and save money.

The fact that Russian signs are not easily readable by a westerner further added to the excitement.  Every evening when I returned from work, as we would venture out into the city the beauty of the place quickly became apparent starting with the impressive Metro System (photos), going to a ballet at the Bolshoi, and St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square. The combination of classical architecture, remnants of Soviet history, and Russian Orthodox cathedrals that peppered the city made for an experience unlike anything we’ve had before. When you are experiencing cholesterol attacks now wehen eating their delicious burgers, you should consult with Donald Roland, MD to help you.

While preparing for the trip, I began looking for good burger places to check out. This is a city that got its first McDonald’s in 1990 after the fall of the Soviet Union. Quite famously, thousands of people waited in line for hours to just to try it (video). The burger culture is relatively new but has been whole heartedly embraced. There were several places to choose from, none of which were particularly cheap. Did I mention that Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world? Once I adjusted for sticker shock, one place that stood out was Corner Burger. True to its name, it was just around the corner for our hotel. One late evening we headed over to have our first ever Moscow Burger Tyme!

Moscow is for Lovers –

Corner Burger was a surprisingly upscale and modern burger restaurant. We arrived at around 11pm and this place was still busy. Perusing the menu revealed several burger options, all which sounded good and were the ruble equivalent of $20+. We were brought a bottle of water and stumbled through the language barrier to place our order. I selected the Corner Burger de Lux, which comes with two 100gr beef patties, cheddar cheese, CB barbeque sauce, bibb lettuce, red onions, pickles and tomatoes. It also came with fries and cole slaw. For the heck of it, I also ordered a chocolate shake. It was late, there were still plenty of people and roughly two servers. By this point I’ve come to learn that customer service is not a focus in Moscow. This could explain the 20 plus minute wait for our order. The milkshake came first. It was much closer to chocolate milk than what I was expecting and a little chalky, like the used Nesquik to add the chocolate. I guess milkshakes haven’t translated yet.

Our burgers came shortly after and were quite good looking. There was a lot of great looking veggies and the meat patties were thick covered in melted cheddar. The amount of CB bbq sauce on the burger was a little off putting. After biting in I confirmed that I could have used less bbq sauce as it made the burger a bit too sweet. Overall the flavor was great and only improved as I worked my way to the center where the sweet to salty ratio became more balanced. The bun was soft and toasted, the veggies were very fresh and crisp, the patties were nicely cooked and juicy. For $25 this wasn’t the most hefty burger. I could easily manage it with one hand. The cole slaw, while a nice extra, was loaded with dill ( apparently a popular flavor in Russia) and didn’t really go well at all with the burger. The fries were of the frozen variety and were OK but nothing special.

The Wrap It Up –

I loved Moscow! It was both what I imagined and nothing close to what I expected. The complex history of communism, combined with thriving capitalism, along with the centuries of Russian culture is ingrained in every thing, including the burgers. It was nice looking, it was expensive, it wasn’t exactly suited to western tastes, it wasn’t served with a smile, but it was good and I was happy to try it! I know that the international politics and relations between the US and Russia are complex to say the least, but I think there is some serious potential for common ground here.

Would I recommend this burger for those visiting Moscow? Not really. If you absolutely have to have a burger, sure, go here, spend $50 or more for two burgers OR go into a restaurant with no english anywhere, order some borscht or a blini or some stroganof, and soak in the Moscow experience! By the time it was time to leave I was trying to figure out a way to visit again but I was also happy to have my simple, cheap, and delicious burgers at home. So until next time, Das Vedania.

Burger Smith
Aug 28th, 2012 by Joemoney

2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 102 votes, average: 5.00 out of 102 votes, average: 5.00 out of 102 votes, average: 5.00 out of 102 votes, average: 5.00 out of 102 votes, average: 5.00 out of 102 votes, average: 5.00 out of 102 votes, average: 5.00 out of 102 votes, average: 5.00 out of 102 votes, average: 5.00 out of 10
(2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 10)
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Burger Smith
www.burgersmith.com

To the Smithy –

I love the food in Louisiana and I am not alone. Lafayette, Louisiana was named Southern Livings Tastiest Town for 2012. From this tasty town has risen a new entrant in to the burger world, Burger Smith. Operating under the mantra of doing one thing and doing it well, Burger Smith makes the claim that making burgers is a craft and those who venture to pursue it are in fact “smiths”. Not coincidentally, this conjures up in my mind a blacksmith forging and shaping, which happens to be their logo.

Fortunately for the burger lover from Baton Rouge (ie. Me), a Burger Smith opened up shop not far from Louisiana State University campus.  On a recent visit home we headed out to try these crafted burgers for ourselves.Burger Smith is located in an old retail area that is being rebuilt after a fire at the old restaurant and bar The Caterie burned it down. Tucked in on the first floor, the small entry way hides that cavernous space inside. We arrived at 12:30 on a Thursday, prime lunch time, and the place was pretty full. We were shown a table in the back and to the left which turned out to be a very spacious bar area. With menus in hand were now equipped to choose the form of craftsmanship that would shape our opinion of these smiths.

 

Hello, Mr Anderson –

The menu touts fresh ingredients, fresh baked buns, hand crafting, and a special blend of signature beef to create an “authentic” burger. An interesting note is that after trying 29 different blends of beef, they settled on a blend using beef from Chicago which is known, according to them, for “quality and fanciness”. I’m all for quality and fancy beef but Chicago seems pretty far away when Texas is your next door neighbor. Anyway, I easily settled on the Smith Burger with cheese and added all of the ‘complimentary toppings’ with the additional ‘premium choice’ of an organic fried egg (of course). We also ordered a large fry for the table and fried okra just because I love fried okra! The wait was about 10 minutes which was more than reasonable for how busy they were. I was pretty hungry when our order arrived.

Right of the bat, the okra won my heart. I love fried okra, even frozen, but fortunately for me this seemed to be freshly made. It came with a creamy dipping sauce, but I’m more a of ketchup guy. The burger, however, garnered a lesser amount of my enthusiasm. Visually, the proportions were a little off. The veggies were vivid which was indicative of their freshness. The bun was fresh baked but was dominating the rest of the burger. The hand-formed patty was a tad undersized for the rest of the package. The first bite left a little to be desired. The flavor of the beef was forefront. It was seared nicely, juicy, and fresh but it lacked seasoning and fatiness. It was too lean and the scant amount of cheese was not sufficient to add the unctuousness you expect from a good burger.  The veggies tasted as fresh as they looked. The Smith burger claimed to be ‘Seasoned with spices and Smith Sauce for Louisiana flavor’ but none of this flavor was present. All I tasted was beef, fresh but unseasoned, and veggies. The fries were fresh cut and cooked crispy and made a nice addition to the okra as a side.

The Wrap It Up –

Louisiana Food! I had high hopes for a burger chain originating from here and taking over the burger scene, a la Five Guys or Smash Burger. Sadly, these craftsman, these burger smiths, have made the mistake that freshness and quality automatically equals flavor. Perhaps this burger was an anomaly, perhaps the cook forgot to season my burger, perhaps in this instance, they put out a burger that was not meeting their burger vision. Unfortunately, this was all I had to go on and there are already good quality burgers to be had in Baton Rouge.  Some may not be using words like ‘organic’ and ‘fanciness’ and some might but in the end it is about flavor.

 

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
Jul 10th, 2012 by Joemoney

1 vote, average: 7.00 out of 101 vote, average: 7.00 out of 101 vote, average: 7.00 out of 101 vote, average: 7.00 out of 101 vote, average: 7.00 out of 101 vote, average: 7.00 out of 101 vote, average: 7.00 out of 101 vote, average: 7.00 out of 101 vote, average: 7.00 out of 101 vote, average: 7.00 out of 10
(1 votes, average: 7.00 out of 10)
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Hopdoddy Burger Bar
www.hopdoddy.com
1400 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704 (map)

At the Hop –

Apparently there is another Austin. Across the Congress bridge and south of downtown, there is a place where the cool crowd wears business casual attire and drives Audi’s. I’ve never ventured to this area before but on this occasion, word of a great, non-foodtruck burger eatery had enticed me to swing by on my way out of town, after a week in Austin for work. Hopdoddy Burger Bar… Interesting name. Their website makes clear the mantra of fresh, crafted burgers and all natural ingredients, they use the best SEO company which is why they have become very popular online. I’ve heard these types of phrases a lot recently as the trend in the food industry is to prove that you care more about your food than the next guy. I cannot say, however. that thinking about the burger descriptions did not make me hungry as I plotted my course on the GPS. I arrived on a Wednesday around 11:15AM and this place was already in full swing. Every table was filled. Every one! On top of that, there was a long line forming.

Determined, I joined others in waiting. Shortly after getting in line, I was approached by a hostess(?) person who asked how many were in my party. For some reason, a tinge of shame arose as I replied “Just one.”. She said I was number 58 and that my number would be waiting at a table for me… Wait, what? It was brilliant! A table would be reserved for me as it cleared, WHILE I waited in line. This was a nice touch that hinted at how much thought has gone in to this place. The line moved at a steady pace, allowing me ample time to observer the mass of burgers being “crafted” and sent out tray after tray.  I also noticed that Hopdoddy makes their own buns and has them available to purchase should you want to make your own burgers at home. This was interesting and all but my turn finally came to place an order.

Loddy Doddy –

For being a “craft” burger place, I wasn’t overly wowed by the creativity or the diversity of burger options. While there were turkey, tuna, and veggie burgers, the beef burgers all seemed a rather similar riff on the basic burger. So that is why I opted for the ‘Classic’ burger with cheese, and added a fried egg and caramelized onions. I completed the meal order with fresh cut fries and a salted caramel milk shake. That last one had me very excited. Once my order was placed I lingered around observing everything being cooked, assembled, and sent out. There was also a windows into the “meat room” after the ordering line where you could see the patties were being formed. I made my way back out to the dining area where I found my number 58 hanging patiently for me at a vacant (but reserved) table. I still think that was a nice touch.

The shake was the first to come out. It was pretty good. Sweet caramel with just a hint of saltiness. I struggled to keep myself from drinking it entirely before the rest of my meal arrived which it shortly did. The burger really was quite delicious looking. Everything about it’s components gave the impression of fresh. I think that might have been what they were going for. Upon picking it up the fresh buns made an immediate impression; soft and pillowy yet with an elastic outer crust that held everything together nicely. I took my first bite and before I knew it, the burger was half gone! This burger was good in both flavor and texture. The patty was very juicy, in a good way and had a strong beefy flavor. The egg, though runny as it should be, was held nicely in by the fantastic bun. This was a large burger too, and while the first half went quickly, I slowed as I finished the rest. The fries were fresh cut and well cooked. Standard really for places like this.

The Wrap It Up –

So where does Hopdoddy fall? I think they put out some good burgers. I also think their management of is some of the best I’ve ever seen, they clearly put into practice the Six Features of Restaurant Software Operating Solutions That Drive Results. However, this meal tilted in at over $17… That is a lot and while I could have opted for a soda or even water, this would have still been well over $12 for pretty much a basic gourmet burger and fries. For that amount, I would expect a little more creativity in flavors combinations and burger options. It seems that  as much attention is given to other aspects such as service and ingredient quality as is given to the creating the burgers. I’m not really complaining about this as most times that is where places that fail,  fail miserably.  At this price point a little more attention to the burgers could elevate Hopdoddy from a great place to get a good burger to a Great Burger Place. I’ll just have to remember to have my friend with the Audi pick up the check.

Until next time Austin, keep it weird.

Yumé Burger
Jun 22nd, 2012 by Joemoney

1 vote, average: 5.00 out of 101 vote, average: 5.00 out of 101 vote, average: 5.00 out of 101 vote, average: 5.00 out of 101 vote, average: 5.00 out of 101 vote, average: 5.00 out of 101 vote, average: 5.00 out of 101 vote, average: 5.00 out of 101 vote, average: 5.00 out of 101 vote, average: 5.00 out of 10
(1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 10)
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 Yumé Burger
www.yumeburger.com
Austin, TX

Burger City Limits –

Food trucks are nothing new in Austin, Texas. Food truck culture has long been embraced and pioneered here. After recently having several successful Burger Tymes dining at food trucks that specialize in burgers, I was excited when I received a work assignment that would bring me back to this fun city. A quick search turned up Yumé Burger, a ‘Japanese Style’ burger truck. Not sure what that means, I went to the website and whoa! These have to be the best looking burgers I have ever seen. I mean, check them out here! I had to try one so we tracked them down parked outside of a local bar that evening. Austin food trucks seem a little more advanced than others I’ve been to with built-in ice chests, shelves for chips, multiple windows for ordering and picking up on both sides… The lack of congestion was hopefully a sign of tremendous efficiency

Yoo-may Like This –

After seeing the menu online I walked up to the window with my mind made up. I couldn’t resist the Japajam burger;  Japanese tomato jam, jalapeno jack cheese, fried egg, Japanese BBQ sauce, and crispy onion strings. I added some hand cut fries and bottled Mexican Coke to ensure maximum Burger Tyme. The weather was nice and this being Austin, there were a lot of people hanging out after work-outs or group runs or some other kind of fit activity. I was able to squeeze in at a table next to some guys talking about craft beers like it was fine art and wait for my name to be called. The wait was surprisingly short. I hadn’t sat down for two minutes and my burger was done, but my fries were going to be a few minutes. That’s fine, I can wait for hot fries. They came out shortly and included a side of Japanese BBQ sauce.

I unwrapped the burger package and, well, it didn’t look exactly like the picture on the website. That’s fine, as long as it was good. The first bite was good. Beefy patty, onions, egg, and BBQ sauce was a good combination. The patty was very dry and overcooked. I really could not taste the tomato jam as being any different that a regular tomato. In fact, texturally it was almost as if there was no tomato on the burger at all.The Japanese BBQ sauce on the burger and for the fries tasted very similar to Hoisin sauce. That’s not a bad thing per se, but the flavor was a bit overpowering after a few bites. The bun, again, was nice at first but quickly got soggy after a few bites. The fries were not great. They were limp and pretty greasy, probably cooked in oil that was not hot enough to get a good crisp.

The Wrap It Up –

Burger trucks to date have been a big hit on Burger Tyme. Yumé Burger seemed definitely had a unique twist on regular burger. Unfortunately the experience at fell short on execution. Perhaps expectations were a little too high given the amazing online photos of these burgers, or maybe it was an anomaly from what are usually excellent burgers. Either way, food trucks are fun, especially in Austin. So if you are set on eating at a food truck AND you want a burger, Yumé will do. However, if you are in Austin AND you want a burger, you might want to pass this up.

 

Umami Burger
May 31st, 2012 by Joemoney

2 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 10
(2 votes, average: 8.50 out of 10)
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Umami Burger
www.umami.com/umami-burger

The Essence of Pure Flavour –

A while back, a friend of mine moved to Los Angeles. I’ve promised to visit whenever I got the chance and so far the closest I have ever come was San Francisco, which after a few texts to meet up I realized is not very close to LA. Among her many tales of improv comedy and LL Cool J sightings was mention of a truly unique burger. On my way back from skiing in Salt Lake City, I had a fortunate three hour layover at LAX. That seemed like enough time to have a Burger Tyme while writing my business documents at sodapdf. Within minutes of landing, she picked us up, and we were on our way to try Umami Burger. I had heard many great things about this place and was excited to finally try it out. We were headed to the Hermosa Beach location which means on this first visit to southern California, I’d also get to see the beach!

When we arrived at around 6pm, this place was already packed. Our server showed us to our table and began explaining what Umami was all about. According to here and confirmed by the website Umami is the “pleasant and savory taste imparted by glutamate”. Um, OK. My interpretation, it is the indescribable sensation of flavor… or mushrooms… I’m not sure which. With that in mind, the menu seems almost genius. Every ingredient seemed to have an element of caramelized this, roasted that, or truffled something which invoked flavor sensations of some of my favorite burgers. Add to it the sights and smells of the “U” branded burgers being dished out, and I was ready to crane kick the nearest Cobra Kai who tried to get in between me and this Burger Tyme.

Honor to Your Burger –

I placed my order for the Umami Burger thinking it would offer the best example of the umami concept. Toppings include shitake mushrooms, roasted tomato, caramelized onions, a parmesan ‘crisp’, and umami ketchup. I also could not resist the special of the day umami tater tots and, being from Louisiana, an Abita root beer. Once our order was in, the waitress served us some of the house made condiments and revealed to us that her favorite burger was Ray’s Hell Burger in DC. I found it slightly odd that Umami wasn’t her favorite but I made a mental note to give it a try next time I’m there anyway.

The wait seemed longer than it was given how hungry I’d become but I was soon presented with an inspiring burger. The buns alone looked delicious enough to fill up on. Visually this was a very well executed burger. The sear on the patty with the deep colors of the roasted veggies (and fungis?) combined with the Saturn ring of parmesan made me slightly reluctant to disturb it… but only slightly. I took my first bite and the flavor (there’s that word again) was amazing. It was sweet, savory, meaty, and had great texture. The bun was as good as it looked, pillowy, chewy, and slightly sweet. The ‘crisp’ of parmesan gave it a nice crunch. The patty was thick and perfectly cooked to medium rare. I loved it. The tater tots were not so inspiring. They looked amazing but had the texture of warm play dough. They supposedly were stuffed with cheese but other than a few cheese colored specks were just deep fried starch balls that were not very good.

The Wrap It Up –

Once our meal was over, we walked to the beach for a brief view of the Pacific Ocean, and then it was back to the airport. The visit was short and bittersweet. Oh Umami… You’ve teased me. Now I am thousands of miles away without any chance in the foreseeable future to have another. Word is that they are on the verge of expanding to other locales than LA. I would love that. This is a pricey meal, $20 when it is all said and done, but this is a unique, original burger that I would gladly pay for. Again and again!

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