Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bobby's Burger Palace

Our burger expedition continues with one of the newest establishments that opened its doors this summer. Bobby's Burger Palace (BBP) decided to try its luck in establishing itself as a titan in this competitive burger market. Founded by culinary genius and recent actor Bobby Flay whose restaurants I have enjoyed in the past will try to win over the burger enthusiasts in the District.

Located in Foggy Bottom BBP provides its customers an assortment of hand crafted burgers as well as a vibrant atmosphere which is a blend between a sit down restaurant and a fast food chain. The unique color scheme and vibrant furniture provide a glimpse into the evolution of fast food dining which is a notch above our current perception and slightly below semi-casual dining.

My first visit came during their grand opening when I joined a group of friends who share the same appreciation for burgers. I initially planed to visit during my lunch break but was thwarted by a line of fellow burger lovers that ruptured through the door and out into the sidewalk. Arriving later that day I was greeted by a fairly similar convergence but was lucky to line jump with my friends who arrived a bit earlier.

Mesmerized by the list of burgers each of which looked equally as good I took the entire wait in line until I decided on my order. I ended up choosing the Napa Valley which consists of fresh goat cheese and watercress which is topped with Meyer lemon honey mustard. Unlike most of the burger establishments in the area BBP asks you how you want your burger cooked and even offers a simple diagram which illustrates the differences. I ordered my medium and also got a side of fries since they are not included with the burger.

(Image provided by Yelp)

Once my order was placed I took a number and joined my companions who were already seated. My burger was promptly delivered to me and I attacked it as God did in Ezekiel 25: 17 (with great vengeance and furious anger for those who don't get the Pulp Fiction reference, and no I am not religious).

All kidding aside I did actually take my time to appreciate the lovely presentation which is the best I have seen in this city to date. I ate each bite slowly to garner a better appreciation for the flavor combination that ensued during each mouthful.

I thought there was a bit too much goat cheese which is not a great idea since it is a very powerful ingredient but that did not take away from the harmony between it and the honey mustard. The burger itself was beautifully seasoned and cooked just as I liked it.

(Napa Valley Burger with French Fries)

I then shared and sampled the burgers that my companions ordered. I tried the Buffalo Style, Philadelphia and the Bobby Blue burger all of which I enjoyed. The fries on the other hand were mediocre and were accompanied by equally mediocre sauces. The fry sauce that was accompanied with the fries were the best of the three that are offered. I also sampled my friends strawberry and blueberry pomegranate milkshakes both of which were very tasty.

The overall success of my first visit prompted my next two visits. On those visits I sampled the burger of the month which at the time was the Cayenne burger which came with barbecue sauce, bacon and fried onion rings and the Bobby Blue Burger which you see below.

(Bobby Blue Burger Crunchified)

I ordered this burger crunchified which you can do with any burger you order. This entails placing a generous portion of plain potato chips on top to add an extra component of texture and flavor. I'm a bit disappointed that they don't incorporate different flavored chips for each burger, this would definitely add an extra enhance the burger. The blue burger had to be my favorite so far, the bacon was fantastic and the blue cheese put it all together.

All in all I believe Bobby's Burger Palace has earned a degree of respectability in the town of burgers. Each burger that I ordered or sampled was well seasoned and cooked properly. The prices are on par with other establishments and the wait times have died down. Overall I would recommend this to any burger lover and it's one of the few chains that I enjoy. We will have to wait and see if it cracks my burger rankings which I plan to release later this year.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bagels Etc.

Bagels are one of the rare foods that I have on a consistent basis. These round mounds of delectable dough are a staple in my arsenal of consumption. I have to have at least one a week to satisfy myself and try hard not to exceed this because of the repercussions to my waistline. 

Unfortunately I do not live in New York City so finding a dependable bagel shop in DC is quite a task.  Visiting the former shed light on the lack of quality in the latter. With years of experience scouring this city I have learned the select few places that serve bagels that meet my reasonable standards. One such shop is Bagels Etc. which specializes in dishing out an array of unique flavors. 

As it's name indicates Bagels Etc. specializes in serving this famous breakfast meal. Nowhere in this city have I found such a unique variety of flavors including but not limited to Chocolate, Cherry, Egg, Blueberry, and even Jalapeno. These crazy flavors can be accompanied by equally unique cream cheeses including strawberry and blueberry.

Located on P St. between Dupont Circle and Georgetown Bagels Etc. offers its patrons an array of breakfast sandwiches for the morning crowd. They also have a number of other options for lunch but their hours are geared more toward the morning rush.    

(Sausage, Egg and Cheese on an Everything Bagel)

Because of their hours I can only stop by during my morning commute which I do from time to time. I usually order an everything bagel with cream cheese and save it for lunch. But if I am hungry in the morning which is an anomaly I go for their breakfast sandwiches. My go to sandwich is their sausage, egg and cheese which I always get on an everything bagel.  This delicious combination of meat and cheese always quenches my appetite and is reasonably priced. 

This past week I went outside of my comfort zone by deciding to order a cherry bagel with strawberry cream cheese. While the picture below looks more like a giant pill of Pepto-Bismol then a bagel I can assure you that it tasted very good. This experience enticed me to try their chocolate bagel as well which I found equally interesting. 

(Cherry Bagel with Strawberry Cream Cheese)

While both convenient and reasonably priced Bagels Etc. does not have the best bagels in this city. My commitment with this establishment stems more on the deficiencies this city has with producing quality bagels. In fact the market for bagels in this city marked an epiphany. Before my visit to New York I could not fathom the idea that you could make bad bagels. But alas I have to work with what I am given which leads me to recommend this establishment as one of the few destinations for quality bagels.

All in all I would recommend trying Bagels Etc. especially if you are interested in trying some of the whacky flavors I have listed. They do have early hours so if you are like me and want a bagel for dinner then you need to look elsewhere. The service is fast and the clientele are more than gracious. They do however accept cash only so I would bring some, they do have an ATM inside but I doubt anyone would want to pay those extravagant fees.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Desperados Burger & Bar

Despite the culinary variety that U St. has to offer there has always been a void when it comes to burgers in this neighborhood. That is until Depserados Burgers & Bar opened it's doors over a year ago. Located between 13th and 14th & U St. this small bar and restaurant serves New Orleans themed cuisine.

Being madly addicted to burgers I was thrilled when Desperados opened its doors. My first two experiences came by ordering and having them brought to me via their free delivery service. I ordered their bacon cheese burger and cajon burger within a two week span. I then came for drinks with a friend, the restaurant itself is small offering both indoor and outdoor seating. The wooden interior and decorations give it a western saloon type vibe.

I found both burgers to be fairly average which caused me to take a year long hiatus. I decided to return this past week for the purposes of blogging about the establishment. I visited with my father and sister after a failed attempt to try Blackbyrd.

As we were seated I picked up my menu and to my surprise I noticed that it had been upgraded. We decided to start off with an order of frickles which are flash fried pickles which come with a spicy remoulade.

The frickles were fantastic and the spicy remoulade that accompanied it complimented the dish well. I can confidently say that they are the best fried pickles I have had to date. Next we ordered our burgers.


After carefully scanning the burger list I decided that the Desperados burger was the most intriguing on the list while my father and sister both ordered the cajun burger. The Desperados consists of a lean patty topped with slow roasted pork, swiss cheese, lettuce, pickles and tomatoes with mustard and remoulade. All their burgers come with seasoned fries and a dipping sauce of your choice.

Once our burgers came out my pupils dilated, my appetite skyrocketed and my animalistic instincts took hold. Although in a state of mental chaos I was able to objectively judge the dish at hand. Like burgers past this one did nothing to wow or disappoint me. The patty was cooked correctly but the spices did not wow me, the pork was a bit flavorless and did not add anything to the dish. The one bright spot was their fries which are crisped to perfection and seasoned very well.

(Desperados Burger)

After four total visits excluding the occasional run in for a beer I can say that Desperados serves average burgers. While their enhanced menu has a number of options that are appealing it is not an establishment that I will go out of my way to visit. Their happy hour specials are nice and the atmosphere is a bit divy but with the vast number of options on U St. this is not one that I have to visit if I am out.

The service is dependable, the prices are reasonable and their delivery makes Desperados an enticing dining option. Unfortunately their lack of a wow factor does not make this a must try destination unless you are on a mission to try every burger place in the DC area.