Burger Quest: Grain & Gristle

grain_gristle

This week, the burger quest went to Grain & Gristle! Here’s my review:

Meat: 9/10
Meat – the perfect flavor and perfect juiciness.

Bun: 7/10
The brioche roll bun was fine. If I’m getting super knit-picky, it was ever so slightly on the dry side, but even saying that is a stretch.

Burger:bun ratio: 9/10
Great ratio.

Toppings: 7/10
The topics were solid except for the pickles. I love dill pickles and hate sweet pickles…this burger had sweet pickles. /:

Condiments: 9/10
I don’t know what their aioli comprises but what I do know is that it is heavenly. I would like a vat of this sauce.

Logistics: 9/10
Great – didn’t fall apart through the last bite.

Fries: 7/10
Far too seasoned for me. /: Super salty! They were also skinnier than what I prefer.

Total score: 57/70

For a compilation of burger quest reviews to-date, click here.

Burger Quest: Boise Fry Company

boise_fry_co

This week, the burger quest went to Boise Fry Company! Here’s my review:

Meat: 7/10
The meat was grass-fed which is a win, but was a little dry.

Bun: 7/10
The bun was ok, nothing super special.

Burger:bun ratio: 9/10
Great ratio.

Toppings: 7/10
Standard toppings, nothing monumental in either direction.

Condiments: 8/10
They had any sauce you could probably think of.

Logistics: 8/10
Great, did not fall apart.

Fries: 7/10
I liked the fact that the fries came unseasoned, so you could season to your flavor level. They also had an abundance of seasonings, something for every pallet. Thumbs up for the sweet potato option. They could have been crispier but they were a good size – not too skinny, not too far.

Total score: 53/70

For a compilation of burger quest reviews to-date, click here.

The Great Burger Quest

It’s about time I make my burger quest official. And by official, I suppose I mean write a blog post about it. The following list is in no particular order, other than alphabetical.

Enjoy…slash, provecho!

8 oz. Burger Bar – Seattle, WA

Upon exiting the jetway at Sea-Tac, I pulled out my laptop and Googled “best grass-fed burger Seattle.” 8 oz. Burger Bar received excellent reviews & was in the direction I was headed toward, so off I went.

I ordered regular cheeseburger and it did not disappoint. The beef, bun & toppings all tasted so fresh. The ketchup rocked my world like no other condiment has ever done; I’ve never tasted a ketchup so flavorful and pure. The ketchup is from Portlandia Foods and comprises all organic and all recognizable ingredients.

The only downside of the burger is its behemoth stature. This burger is HUGE and the bun:burger ratio is a little off. AKA, the bun & toppings without a doubt played second fiddle to the gargantuan bun. The burger itself was delicious, just really difficult to keep together after the first bite.

8_oz_burger

All Star Burger – Bee Cave, Texas

This particular burger is called “The West.”  Let this be known: the garlic cilantro cream cheese spread on this burger is a small slice of heaven. It really transforms the burger from great to 350% fantastic. The ratio of bun:burger is on par. The meat tastes fresh & comes from artificial growth hormone and antibiotic free 100% vegetarian-fed cows. All Star also uses local farms and vendors which is oh so lovely.

The only critique I have regards ambiance. For being located in a strip mall, the overall ambiance is not bad; however, the restaurant is consistently chock-full of  kids/families/teens. I imagine this is right on par for the Hill Country Galleria demographic, but for a 20 something duo, it’s not a perfect fit.

Ambiance aside, this burger is without a doubt in the running for the best burger. (: Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 11.29.47 PM

Annie’s Cafe & Bar – Austin, TX

Each year I pass through upward of 25 airports. And when you spend that much time in airports (slash, anywhere), you begin noticing trends & formulate observations.

Because I’m pretty anal about nutrition, food is one of the things I spend the most time observing. One of the main reasons that I love the Austin airport is because there are a number locally sourced and organic options – Annie’s being one.

My only “complaint” (if you could call it that) is the size of the burger. The burger is massive and my heart broke a little when I had to throw 1/2 of it away. The size would have been fine if I was heading home afterward, but attempting to cart a drippy 1/2 eaten burger on an airplane seems like a recipe for disaster.

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 7.35.13 PM

Black Star Co-op

The delicious taste of the beef is what immediately stood out. Black Star uses locally sourced no hormone no antibiotic beef. The burger includes house-made beer mustard, which was a little too salty for my taste, but otherwise, this burger was fantastic. Great burger:bun:ingredient ratio, the fries were fantastic and the ambiance had a very laid-back-Portlandia-crunchy-granola-let’s-grow-heirloom-tomatoes-in-our-backyard type vibe.

black_star_coop

Common Roots Cafe – Minneapolis, MN

In terms of presentation, I think this grass-fed burger takes the cake. Honestly, words can’t do the burger justice, so I’ll let the picture do the talking. (:

Like many of the other restaurants mentioned, I really liked that CRC uses local produce/ingredients from local farms whenever possible for a number of reasons, including nutritional and economical.

common roots cafe

Counter Cafe – Austin, TX

I like that Counter Cafe uses many local & organic ingredients, such as the beef and the lettuce on this burger. What I didn’t like about this burger was that they used the white part of the lettuce. No matter how local or how organic, no one likes the white part of lettuce.

Overall, the burger was satisfactory. To be completely honest, my overall Counter Cafe experience was scarred (figuratively and slightly literally) when the waitress spilled piping hot coffee on me and pretended like nothing happened, even after my “OMG, Ow! Ow! Ow!” reaction. It was a bizarre interaction that I have to image was isolated but…probably won’t be back soon.

counter_cafe

County Line – Austin, TX

This burger tasted ok, but the meat isn’t grass-fed, and consuming grass-fed, not grain-fed meat is really important to me.

That aside, I’ve always really enjoyed the County Line ambiance – a nice mix of charming, old-timey and Austin weird.

county_line

Drink.Well. – Austin, TX

This burger was by far the skinniest and tallest of them all. While I guess you could say it looked kind of cool, it was a logistical nightmare. As soon as the burger was brought out, I immediately thought of this commercial and wondered if there was any way I could adapt the “taco neck” into a “burger neck” strategy. (…the answer turned out to be no).

drink_well

Eastside Cafe – Austin, TX

A farm-to-table cafe located in a renovated east Austin house. Everything about the ambiance – the homey feel, the lighting and the chatter volume was just perfect.

The burger: The beef was all natural and tasted moist but not drippy. The balance between condiments, toppings and burger was good as well.

If I could change one thing, I’d make the patty and bun thinner because the burger was about 27 feet tall and, well, tall burgers can be a logistical nightmare.

Eastside_cafe

Homemade – Austin, TX

Well…seeing as we made it, I don’t have any major critique as, well, we chose all of the ingredients. Everything on the burger is grass-fed and organic. The icing on the cake is the absolute hands-down best cheddar cheese in the entire world: Tillamook.

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 11.28.48 PM

Hopdoddy – Austin, TX

On the note of Tillamook cheese, let’s talk about Hopdoddy! Hopdoddy is one of the few restaurants down here in Austin to use Tillamook and for this alone, 100 bonus points shall be granted. (:

A little drippy for my taste, but otherwise, Hopdoddy’s burgers (comprising all natural and fresh ingredients) never disappoint:

hopdoddy

Jack Allen’s Kitchen – Austin, TX

I think this burger can mostly speak for itself. Wowsa.

One thing I really like about Jack Allen’s is the tactful yet obvious stress on fresh, locally sourced food (i.e. not in an annoying foodie hipster way.)

jack_allens

Justine’s Brasserie – Austin, TX

Honestly…it was a “meh” burger. The burger was extremely drippy…as in, to the point of soaking through the bun. The meat tasted much more like ground beef for a meatball than meat for a hamburger.

Justine's

Root Down – Denver, CO

I simply love airports that offer restaurants with high quality organic, natural and local food. These types of airports are few and far between but DIA, shoutout goes to you for having options. Root Down is a “field to fork” restaurant with a mission too neat to not directly quote:

“Root Down aims to connect the neighborhood to a dining experience in the same way ingredients are connected to food. There should be a seamless bond between the elements and experience, which stimulates the senses and draws people in.”

For whatever reason, I opted to try the veggie burger. While it tasted great for a veggie burger, I think I’ve learned that between a veggie and regular burger, the regular burger without question always wins. The toppings tasted flavorful and fresh. Sweet potato fries were served with the burger. Like the veggie vs. meat situation – they were good, but if given the option, I prefer regular fries over sweet potato fries any day of the week.

root_down

Sandy’s Hamburgers – Austin, TX

You’re certainly not going to get a quality burger in terms of ingredients or taste, but what you will get is the experience of an old-timey, borderline janky hamburger stand.

sandys

Where have you found your favorite burger?

Photos From The Archives

Fairly confident it’s going to be a crazy hot summer. Not even June, and we’re already just shy of 100s:

Attended yoga this morning. It’s taught every Saturday morning at Barton Springs. Outdoor yoga is such a wonderful start to the weekend:

After yoga, we went to Hill’s Cafe – what I would consider a very “Austin” place…well…a very South Austin place. Had the sweet tea and surprise surprise….a burger! This one was pretty good – the bun made it distinct…tasted almost like Hawaiian bread:

Fast foward through the rest of the day to this beautiful Texas sunset:

Made delicious hand-made gyros for dinner, followed by hand-made fruit tart (sans butter). So good: