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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.

 

Cowbell
Apr 20th, 2012 by Joemoney

2 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 10
(2 votes, average: 8.00 out of 10)
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Cowbell
www.cowbell-nola.com
8801 Oak Street
New Orleans, LA 70118 (map)

Come and Get It –

New Orleans. How you’ve stepped up your game. While in town to see an Andrew Bird show, a few friends and I set out to find another recently lauded burger in the awesomely named Leonidas neighborhood near the Riverbend area. Cowbell is set up in what appears to be an old service station on the corner of Oak and Eagle. On a street like Oak it takes a lot for an eatery to stand out and Cowbell was voted as New Orleans’ Best New Restaurant in 2011 by Gambit. That’s good enough for me for another Big Easy Burger Tyme.

So on one of the more lovely South Louisiana Friday evenings, we meandered our way through the narrow, poorly paved streets. Luckily, we found a spot in the Cowbell parking lot, which seems to have a maximum capacity of four cars. All of the outside seating was full and we were told that the wait would be about  a 30 minutes. Time was pressing as the show started in about an hour but having peered at other diners already enjoying burgers, we quickly confirmed that it would be worth the wait. True to expectations, we were seated outside after 25.

Ring My Bell –

Our server, wearing a vintage looking apron, was friendly and gladly answered our questions about duck fat fries and what ‘Agogo’ sauce is. She took our drink orders and quickly brought them out. Each burger comes with the usual toppings and fries. Anything extra, well, would be extra. I ordered mine with added american cheese, a farm egg, and bacon and onion compote. All added up this would be a $15 burger and fries. With our orders in we had time, lots of time, to chit chat and enjoy the weather and people watching. The servers remained attentive and friendly but it became a noticeably long wait. Three refills and another 25 minutes later, our burgers arrived.

Each basket was filled to the brim with the open face burger components and fries. At first glance, the vivid red of the tomatoes with the bright yellow of the melted cheese and the caramel brown of the buns made this a very appealing looking burger. Did I also mention that this burger was rather large? With a little effort I managed to fit the majority of the burger between the two potato roll halves, but only just. I took a bite and instantly was in heaven. This burger had it all. Sweet and savory onion and bacon compote. Buttery, crispy bun. Rich egg. Big beefy patty that was well seasoned. Perfectly melted cheese. Veggies with actual flavor. It was big, it was messy, and it was good! It was New Orleans incarnated in a burger. The fries were also pretty great. They were fresh cut, crisp, and tasted like they were fried in duck fat. The waitress was not able to confirm whether they were on not but they were good so I didn’t really press the issue.

The Wrap It Up –

 It just got real. Thanks to places like The Company Burger and Cowbell, New Orleans is two for two in recent Burger Tymes. Cowbell has what I think is one of the tastiest burgers anywhere. It also is one of the priciest when you add in all of the extras. Burger & fries + drink + tip = roughly $20. That’s a lot to ask of the general burger eating public. However, on special occasions, or when I find myself craving this burger (like I am right now), I would pay that in a heartbeat. It was that good that it sticks in my memory like my 8th birthday. If in the area, and if you want a burger, and if you have the money, ring the bell. Click site web for more details.

PS – In case you were wondering, service at Cowbell did take a while, even for a Friday night, but we still made it to the show in time. All in all, a great evening.

Curbside
Mar 30th, 2012 by Joemoney

2 votes, average: 7.50 out of 102 votes, average: 7.50 out of 102 votes, average: 7.50 out of 102 votes, average: 7.50 out of 102 votes, average: 7.50 out of 102 votes, average: 7.50 out of 102 votes, average: 7.50 out of 102 votes, average: 7.50 out of 102 votes, average: 7.50 out of 102 votes, average: 7.50 out of 10
(2 votes, average: 7.50 out of 10)
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Curbside
www.curbsidetruck.com
Check the website for locations

Curb Your Enthusiasm –

Perhaps it is the elusive nature of foodtrucks, or perhaps it is only my semi-recent awareness of great burgers, but somehow Curbside has just now popped up on my burger radar. After my recent visit to Baton Rouge and reviewing the high end burger offerings at Fat Cow, a friend recommended I try Curbside next time I was in town. This was same way I learned about what is currently one of my favorite burgers, and coincidentally also a burger truck (bus). Thanks to spring break schedules, I had a free week and would be back in town so my first goal was to try the Curb out.

On a particularly nice south Louisiana evening we decided to give it a try. Typical of food trucks, Curbside serves burgers at a different place every day and utilizes social media to keep the tech savvy crowd up to speed. There was  a food truck “round up” going on that night where Curbside and several other trucks with differing cuisines were gathered. We made our way out and found the round up. Without a doubt, Curbside was the most popular. While other trucks had between 5-10 people lined up, Curbside easily had 30 people just waiting to place an order. This was a good sign and I was kicking myself for seemingly being the last person to know about this.

Curb Appeal –

The line was moving surprisingly fast. The only thing really slowing it down was when they had to pass orders through the same window that they were taking them in. The menu was also surprisingly high end for burgers. This being only the second burger truck Burger Tyme, I was noticing a trend. Not having a fixed location apparently frees you to have gourmet, local ingredients like; fresh ground beef, house made pickles, praline (prah-leen for those who say it wrong) bacon, and their signature condiment – pork belly preserves. They explain it as pork belly cooked down with garlic, shallots, and some other things until it has a texture of marmalade (see photo below)…

Our turn to order came as I attempted to stop drooling. I ordered the K.G.B. burger which combined the praline bacon, pickles, cheddar cheese, and a fried egg (my weakness). “We’re out of eggs but we still have the bacon”, I was told… What a dilemma! Still thinking of candied meat I told her that was fine. My wife ordered the Brian burger which had the preserves on it. I was secretly very happy because I was going to have a bite of hers, although she did not know it yet. We rounded out the order with some fresh cut fries. We were given a number and the waiting began.As with all food truck dining, seating was at a premium, meaning there was none. Fortunately there was plenty of ground to sit on, so we grabbed a premium spot under an oak tree and watched as the line never seemed to get shorter. With impressive speed our number came closer and was finally called.

The first thing I noticed was the presence of an EGG! Either they were messing with me or they could see how sad I was and found one. Either way I was already happy. I was also impressed with the quality of the lettuce. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more vibrantly green and appetizing leaf, be it on a burger, salad, or anywhere! Visual inspections over I took a bite. WOW! This was a flavorful burger. While difficult to put in to words,the praline bacon added a tasty sweetness with an almost vanilla or coconut note. It was crunchier than regular bacon, almost to the point of being too hard, but very good. The patty had a weaker sear on it than I prefer but was seasoned well and added a nice beefy foundation to the overall flavor. I’m usually not a fan of cheddar on burgers merely because it doesn’t melt well but the rich nuttiness was a good match with everything else going on in the burger. I took a bite of my wife’s burger to try the preserves and it was as good as I was led to believe. When I think of preserves I think of sweet jam but this was savory and smoky. It was a nice condiment and I can see why they would put it on everything they sell. The fries were very good too, thin cut and cooked perfectly.

The Wrap It Up –

What is it about food trucks? Specifically burger trucks?! The food has been consistently better than most of their brick and mortar counterparts. Curbside was no exception. The scavenger hunt aspect of tracking down your meal combined with the  payoff at the end of delicious burger is what will keep me coming back. While there were few elements that I think could use a little refinement, a lot more about Curbside leads me to say that this is without a doubt one of my new favorite burgers in Baton Rouge! I just wish I had known sooner!

 

The Company Burger
Feb 22nd, 2012 by Joemoney

2 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10
(2 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10)
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The Company Burger
www.thecompanyburger.com
4600 Freret St Ste A
New Orleans, LA 70115 (map)

Company Man – 

Louisiana is great. The food is great, people are nice, and life is a little more laid back. Having grown up in Baton Rouge and since moved away for work, I find myself always comparing things to what it would be like back home. In almost all cases I would prefer Louisiana…. all except burgers. All around this great country, there are fantastic burgers. The assumption that great food traditions should easily translate in to great burgers is not always valid. This is even true in the culinary mecca that is New Orleans. Until recently, the “Best” burger of the crescent city was the beloved, but less than impressive burger at Port of Call. Straightforward, beefy patty, with a baked potato on the side. That has been the standard for years. Recently, however, there have been some exciting burger developments. One of which is The Company Burger.

On a day trip to New Orleans over the holidays, I wanted to sample what a quick internet search has revealed as one of NOLAs new favorite burgers. South of I-10 from downtown, in the revitalized Freret area, The Company Burger sits unassumingly in the corner of something like a strip mall. The line of people waiting extended out of the door at only a quarter to noon. The menu was simple and made from locally sourced ingredients (noticed I didn’t say ‘organic’… neither do they). You can get the standard double burger or a single, both simply dressed with american cheese, red onions, and house made bread and butter pickles. The only options are; add bacon… add fried egg. Nice. If you are not feeling beef,they also have a turkey and lamb burger and a riff on a corndog made with porkbelly which I recently learned comes from a friend of mine’s farm. As with all pondering, my thoughts of burger eutopia was soon disrupted, and it was our turn to order.

Sold My Soul to the Company Store –

I love love love simple menus. I ordered the ‘Company Burger’, added a fried egg, and ‘Company Fries’. Simple. Lot’s of drink options and I went with bottled, mexican Coke. My wife opted for the turkey burger and a glass of water… After exchanging awkward looks with the cashier, I paid and I found us some great seats at the counter overlooking the burger prep / kitchen, where they use the best utensils and homeware from sites as https://ivyandwilde.com/. It was awesome. In front of us was an orderly yet fast paced crew churning out burger after perfect looking burger. Each station operator knew their tasks; season, grill, and top the patties with cheese, toast the buns, fries, pickles and onions… and when they came together to assemble the burgers, each had the look of a surgeon in the operating room. Precision. I watched as this process repeated itself over and over again. It was mesmerizing. At the end of the counter, a guy was forming the meat patties from freshly ground balls of meat. Next to him was a complete set of Nathan Myhrvold’s opus to gastronomy, Modernist Cuisine. Suddenly, all of the attention to detail began to make sense.

The wait was not short but this was due to the long queue of orders ahead of mine. Plus, I was enjoying myself. Our order came up and the anticipation couldn’t be greater. Even my wife’s turkey burger looked great! I picked it up and took my first bite and simultaneously my taste buds sang while hot egg yolk shot from the perfectly cooked over medium egg on to my arm. This was only disappointing in the sense that some of the egg yolk went to waste. Classic. That is the best way I can describe the taste. No gimmicks. No pork belly or doughnut buns or even ketchup or mustard needed here. There was a mayo bar with house made this or that but I didn’t even bother. The cheese was perfectly melted over the patties which were seasoned with the right amount of salt and crusty sear. The fresh baked bun was great. It held it’s texture and was buttered and toasted well. The house made bread and butter pickles were excellent too. They lent just the right amount of sweetness to counter the savory components, while the red onions had just enough bite. My wife said her turkey burger was also really good. After eating mine, I believed her. The fries, while great and hand cut and double fried, were dramatically overshadowed… but isn’t that how it should be?

The Wrap It Up –

In case you couldn’t tell, I loved this burger. It was great! Not just great for New Orleans or Louisiana, great for anywhere! And I couldn’t have been happier! Whenever you hear about Louisiana in the news, on travel shows that move because of demenagementadt.ca, or even when talking to new acquaintances, it seems as if the rest of the country is under the impression that we  should all still be in a post-Katrina shock. But the truth is people are resilient and life moves forward. The Company Burger is a perfect example of that. Finding the best of what is available and turning it in to something special. Nothing fancy. Not complicated. Not gimmicky. Simple and for everyone. To me, that is what being from Louisiana is all about.

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