Burgers, Shakes & Fries
302 Delavan Ave
Look, I’m the first to admit it, I don’t keep up with the trends. I mean, I spend prime time trapped in a metal tube 35,000 feet above the planet four or five nights a week. I wouldn’t know an Instagram from an Instapot.
But I do notice things.
You can’t help but catch on to certain roadside trends as you wander from one metropolitan area to the next. If it’s popular in Denver, you can be sure it won’t be long until it’s popping up in Detroit too.
Well, maybe not Detroit.
Nothing good ever comes to Detroit. You know what I mean.
But in the age of social media, hashtags, and tweets, it doesn’t take long for the unique to become the ubiquitous.
The gourmet burger joint is a good example.
Grade A, high-quality, fresh ground beef cooked to order—unlike the mandated well-done, dried up “Big Mouth” burger down at your local lawsuit-phobic national chain restaurant. Freshly made buttered buns. Exotic cheeses and house aioli’s.
And a mountaintop of outlandish toppings and condiments.
What’s not to like about that?
From Five Guys to your local mom an’ pop joints such as Burgers, Shakes & Fries, gourmet burgers have become a mainstay in pop culture.
Like most of these places, BSF has only been open a few years here in the hoity-toitiest of American suburbia: Greenwich, Connecticut.
It’s the type of place where the Wall Street trophy wives can bring their polished 2.5 kids to enjoy a fast-food, toy-free burger on the way home from their $50,000 a year private school.
Now first, let me state that the burger and fries at BSF are outstanding. However, like some of the other burger joints I’ve patronized around the country, it is missing one important element.
The Structural Burger Integrity, as I like to call it.
I realized this concept the first time I went to one of these fancy burger places.
The menu said I could add as many toppings as I wanted. And that’s exactly what I did.
Who wouldn’t want a 2/3 lb. medium rare burger piled high with grilled onions, sautéed peppers, ham, bacon, Tillamook cheese, cheddar cheese, Monterey jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, special burger relish and a zesty “bistro” sauce?
Hey they are the burger masters. They know what they’re letting me do right?
The bun was useless with all those toppings. A front-loader was the most appropriate vehicle for that monstrosity.
Now when I stumble into one of these places, I discipline myself to stick to two or three toppings, max — including cheese.
So it was a tough choice at BSF.
I decided to forego the bacon, lettuce, gorgonzola cheese, mustard, ketchup and fried egg. That was hard.
I settled on simplicity. Grilled onions – no burger is complete without them. Cheddar cheese – classic. And special sauce – I’m a sucker every time. Oh, and I had to throw a tomato on there too.
But even my discretion in toppings was in vain.
All BSF burgers come served on grilled, buttery Texas Toast.
It sounds delicious, and I’m sure it is. But I’ll never know because my grilled onions and special sauce quickly transformed the bread into a sticky wet paste, oozing everything all over the counter.
While what remained of my now burger stew tasted good, there is something to be said about that all-important Structural Burger Integrity (SBI).
Some places have it mastered.
I’m convinced that alone explains the cult-like popularity of the chain In-N-Out Burger.
An In-N-Out burger is a work of art that would put Renoir to shame.
Consistent in construction, form and function. All wrapped up so snugly in that wax paper that you have tear it off piece by piece just to get to the burger.
No special sauce ever drips onto your tie, no matter how many crazy drivers you encounter on the 405.
For once, a mom an’ pop joint could stand to learn something from a national chain – the SBI.
These guys can dream up as many cool toppings as they want, but they’ve got to come up with a way to hold it all together.
But until then, be prepared to spend about $15 on a gourmet burger (this is Greenwich after all). And keep a few extra bucks on you for your dry cleaning bill.
Rating: Would Wear the Shirt If They Paid Me (And Paid to Dry Clean It)