Finally finished my second part of my bistro burger survey. Now that I look back at it, I probably should have grabbed one of the lesser burgers for this report because all these were at least decent. Maybe I'll have to make an effort here in the near future to try some places I suspect will serve up crappier burgers. (Maybe you could offer up some places that you'd really like to inflict on me.) At least some of the sides were able to really disappoint, once again. See link for more pictures, addresses, etc.
Bluehour: Surprisingly good set of burger and fries. Among the better ones so far. I really appreciate the grilled smokiness of the meat. Few places are able to achieve that. Bun is a bit soft, but well-toasted. The dried tomatoes on the side along with the pickled onions really work well with the flavorful meat. Fries are good, too. Not as crispy as Cafe Castagna, but crispier than McDonald's. Nicely seasoned, too. Only $6 at happy hour, a real steal.
Higgins: Though there aren't a lot of gourmet condiments, this burger is still one of the more unique. The meat is a really smooth grind, almost pasty. It's also seasoned more heavily than most and is reminiscent of Lebanese sausage, imo. Odd perhaps, but certainly not bad. The part that annoys me is that it's one of the more expensive burgers in town yet they accompany it with a salad. A salad. It's fine little salad with hazelnuts, but still, I'd at least like a heartier option if they don't have a fryer. Or, even better, just offer it ala carte and charge less. Nice house-made pickles with more variety than most places.
Ken's Place: A really hefty and juicy burger. Fairly plain, much like Cafe Castagna's burger, but with a larger patty, better crusting, and more cheese. The bun isn't sesame seed either. They even have similar pickles. Ken's makes zucchini pickles. The burger is cheaper by a couple bucks, too. However -- and this may be a big however for many -- no fries. I don't know that Ken's Place has a fryer, so it may not be an option. (He has roasted potatoes instead.) Again, I'd like to see the sandwich ala carte in these cases. At least, unlike Higgins, this burger is still a good value. When it was a lunch burger, it was one of the best non-happy hour values for a burger there was.
Lovely Hula Hands: My problem with this place is exemplified by the burger. In the words of my gradeschool basketball coach: They've got "a million dollar move and a ten cent shot." Well, that's overstated. But the concepts are good, they just aren't executed as well as they should be. They didn't ask me how I wanted my burger cooked and it came out medium-well, overcooked, imo, except for expecially fatty burgers. They have two sets of flavorings for the burger and I chose the one with blue cheese and dijon and caramelized onions. The first two ingredients totally overwhelmed the burger. In less amounts, they would have been nice. They matched each other well. The caramelized onions, which sounded like a nice sweet counter to the other two flavors, were entirely lost, despite there being a large mound of them. Meat was flavorless, I suspect needing both more crustiness and seasoning. The bun was mushy and became soggy. This was the worst burger in the survey, though I could see how it could be good with a more adept hand cooking it. Fries were pretty good, though.
Roots: Leanest burger I've had so far. More of a chopped texture, too. Reminded me of steak tartare that had been cooked as a burger. Didn't really crumble apart, though. Rather beefy taste, too, which went nicely with the stronger choices of cheese and bacon. Chef Root worked under Higgins and provides house-made pickles that seem like something that Higgins would offer. There were green beans, cauliflower, cucumbers, and other pickled veggies. Fries were pretty bad, though. Overcooked, yet soft. At happy hour, though, the burger is only $5.50 and doesn't include the crappy fries.
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