What makes a burger so great? Is it the quality of the meat? Is it the seemingly infinite topping possibilities that you can add to your burger to make it a fully customizable creation? Or is there just an innate connection between human and handheld sandwich that makes it comforting and familiar to its consumer? It is probably a combination of all of these things. When the thought of the great American burger comes up, the first thing that pops into mind is probably grilling for Memorial Day or the 4th of July with friends and family; being surrounded by good times with your favorite adult beverage in hand with the promise of nicer weather and better things to come. This is what makes the burger so universally accepted and comforting. However nowadays, a burger is more than just a grilled patty with a slice of onion, some lettuce, maybe some condiment between two plain buns. Restaurants have begun to take the ordinary hamburger to new heights; creating exciting new flavor combinations using the freshest ingredients. Restaurants these days are not settling for some generic store bought patty, but actually grinding the meat and forming the patties by hand. Bringing in the freshest local produce to add the these burgers; having bakeries bake rolls specifically for burger-use only. People want variety without sacrificing quality.
With all of this being said, I figured the best place to start this burger expedition would be at a restaurant that I consider to have some of the best burgers in the area, and one of the most creative menus I have seen that just revolves around burgers… The Fix Burger Bar on Shrewsbury Street. A small restaurant front, taking over the old Mezcal location has transformed itself into part speakeasy, part antique, while still feeling modern and hip. With plenty of unique burgers to choose from, you can literally get your “fix” of whatever you are craving at the moment. What hit me right off the bat was a burger called the Rambling Wreck. This was a burger that had cheddar cheese, mesquite pork belly, house slaw, sliced pickles, whiskey BBQ sauce, served on a sesame bun ($13). I will be the first one to tell anyone that I am not a cole slaw fan…I just can’t get over the whole raw cabbage and mayo combination. It ends up being too crunchy and too bitter. It just doesn’t do it for me. However, all of the other ingredients just sounded so amazing that I decided to put my own fears aside to try it. I am glad that I did!
The burger was cooked perfectly medium (something that not a lot of restaurants get right). It was juicy and thick, exactly what you want in a good burger. The best part was the mesquite pork belly. For those of you who are unfamiliar with pork belly, this is the section of the pig that your bacon comes from, however, it’s usually trimmed of its fat and cured to create the bacon that we are most synonymous with. Pork belly is essentially bacon on steroids. Think crispy, thick porky goodness that tastes like bacon, but has the texture of a meaty pork chop. However, with it being more fatty than traditional bacon, it usually ends up being very rich. But this is where the house slaw saves the day. You really needed that crunch and acidity of the slaw to break up the richness of the pork belly, while giving it a really different texture and another layer of flavor. The cheddar cheese helps mellow everything out while the mesquite bbq sauce added a nice smokiness to the burger, while not being overwhelming. The sesame bun was a perfect vessel to hold the burger. With a plethora of toppings in addition to the burger patty itself, you need a bun that it going to hold up against those fillers. Job well done, sesame seed bun!
At the end of the meal, I enjoyed it so much and was comfortably full. Basking in the wake of the food coma that was beginning to come over me, I enjoyed the remainder of my ever-classy ‘Gansett and proceeded to finish the remainder of my girlfriend’s burger. Reflecting on my maiden voyage into the burger blog world, I am confident of positive things to come. It’s evident that the burger is being elevated to unprecedented heights and we get to reap the culinary benefits of this advancement. With the bar set high by the newest burger institution in the city, where will I visit next? Until next entry…