Happenstance had me buying a new pair of running shoes in Manch at noon today, and an expensive footwear purchase is naturally followed by a burger and fries. So, I walked around the corner from Runner’s Alley and popped into Pattie Shack.
I wanted very badly to love this place, but the obsessive burger fundamentalist in me was brimming with skepticism. I really don’t think I’ve eaten an exceptional burger in the state of New Hampshire that wasn’t cooked on my own ripping hot cast iron skillet.
I kept things simple and ordered a single burger on a plain bun (they offer pretzel buns) with American cheese and grilled onions. Starch options include sweet potato fries, waffle fries, and tater tots. Almost no one seems to make a decent French fry around here, but I gave the sweet potato fries a shot, thinking that because they’re the most like a standard fry, they would provide the least opportunity for failure.
While waiting for my order, I noticed a sign indicating that they use a custom beef blend which includes some sirloin. Another sign bragged about their “purebred” burgers that contain only sirloin and no chuck. Uh oh, now we’ve got a problem. I didn’t specify how I wanted the burger cooked, and sirloin is REALLY inappropriately lean for a hamburger, particularly if it’s cooked anywhere beyond bloody rare.
The food shows up and it looks quite attractive, so I slice the burger pole to pole so I can get a bead on what I’m dealing with. Sure enough, the patty is grey and desiccated. Here’s the really unfortunate part: Somebody there really knows how to cook a burger. Grilling a burger is an inferior process to griddling, but despite that, there’s a really nice sear on both sides of the patty, and it was well seasoned. The bun is nicely buttered and toasted, and it’s size is in perfect balance with the beef. I don’t usually approve of Kaiser rolls as hamburger buns because of their propensity to fall apart into four bread triangles after the second or third bite. This one maintained its’ structure perfectly. If only they used a 70/30 blend beef!?
I had no hope for the fries, and here’s where I was proven wonderfully wrong. They NAIL the sweet potato French fries. I was fully expecting a pile of limp, dull, pasty starch sticks, but what I was served was quite the opposite. The fries are shatteringly crisp on the outside and beautifully creamy and potatoey within. Really outstanding!
At some point in the next few weeks, I’ll try the same routine again, but I’ll request that the burger be cooked very rare. That may be the key to unlocking a rare (pun intended) positive NH burger experience.
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