By Glen Macnow
“Hamburgers – the cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast” – Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction.
It’s been a few years since I did a food hunt for WIP and nine years since I last searched for the ideal burger. Since then, the field changed dramatically. Burgers became trendy, with the opening of national high-end franchises and chic upscale joints where you can get top-shelf bourbon with your patty. There’s much more competition now for the title of Best Burger in Philly.
So I’m doing it again, this time with the help of Angelo and the WIP Morning Show.
I need your help, too. Send email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a tweet, @realglenmacnow. I won’t get to all of them, but I’ll sure try to sample any place that gets multiple mentions.
Because the field has grown so much, I’m dividing it into three categories:
• Burger joints. That step up from fast food. Some are chains, some are standalones, but they’re the kind of places where you can go for a nice slab of meat and come home with change from a $10 bill.
• Bars and modest restaurants. I like a nice lager with my USDA prime, and there are no shortage of taprooms in town that will give me both. You don’t have to have an alcohol license to make this category, but most of the places will. Not much beats a slider and beer before heading home for the night.
• High-end places. Steakhouses and finer restaurants. Nine years ago, I ignored this category, arguing that no one needs to spend $22 for a kobe-and-truffles special. But you know what? People do. Plus, now WIP has given me an expense account for this project. So let’s spend their money.
I plan to order pretty much the same thing at each place – bacon cheeseburger. If you’ve got grilled onions or mushrooms, I’m in. No boursin, broccoli rabe or goat cheese to confuse things. Just a basic, All-American burger. Oh, and I like ketchup. So sue me for that.
Just bring me a draft beer or black-and-white milkshake on the side. Maybe fries.
My scoring system (1-10) takes into account everything you would expect: Taste, size, freshness and preparation of the patty, bun, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and anything else that’s aboard the end product.
My ideal? The standard is a juicy, flavorfully seasoned, quality beef patty (no turkey for this hunt) cooked to medium-rare or medium doneness. Give me quality melted cheese on top – cheddar preferably, and no American. Put it on a buttery, golden-brown toasted bun. A white-bread roll is grounds for disqualification.