Friday, August 29, 2014

Buzz Burgers, Barrels, and Beer or Why Bother with Buns?

The Slow and Savory Review

The first time Brandy had a real American cheeseburger, she was instantly in love.  Yes, it was fast food, yes it was greasy, yes it was not the normal gourmet experience she was used to, but by God was it tasty.  "I remember the perfect tang of the pickles, the sweetness of the ketchup, the soft bun, the melty cheese, the bite of the mustard... all coming together in perfect harmony with the beef.  It was heaven."  In fact, the burger inspired Brandy's very first trip to America, though as she gorged herself from one end of the country to another, eating every burger she could get her hands on, she started to get bored.  "My brain knew these things were still the same mix of deliciousness I had once coveted, but my tongue seemed less convinced."  So she slowed down on her burger consumption, only allowing herself to have one every so often so as to keep them special.

Recently, Brandy has started to take notice of a lot of fashionable burgers popping up all over the country, which has given her pause.  "I never thought there was anything wrong with the old fashioned kind of burger, but some of these new fangled concoctions do sound bloody intriguing!" she has been known to comment.  A newer burger joint in the North Center neighborhood called Buzz Burgers, Barrels, and Beer professes to be on the cutting edge of burger couture, so Brandy knew she had to check them out and satisfy her eternal craving for America's favorite sandwich.

Though the outside of Buzz looked a little nondescript, the inside was surprisingly refined with lots of dark, polished wood surfaces.  Other than the slightly dim day time lighting, the set up was pretty typical pub chic with booths, high tables, and a long bar towards the back with television sets above it, playing various sports.  "Seems like it would be quite cozy on a cold winter night," Brandy mused, taking a table by the window to watch the rain.

Glancing at the menu, the first thing to catch Brandy's attention was the cocktails.  "This price can't be right!" she said, switching her regular reading glasses to her super strength reading glasses.  But after calling over her server to confirm what she was seeing, she finally accepted that the price on the menu was correct: brunch cocktails were $3.  This included mimosas, bloody marys, and screwdrivers, apparently, and although these drinks were obviously not being made with top shelf stuff, there was almost no beating the price anywhere in town.

The menu of burgers was so appealing that Brandy simply could not choose just one, especially as two of the burgers were screaming to be tried.  Pointing slyly to the menu and explaining that she simply had to try that much food for the sake of burger eaters everywhere and that she also had a strict rule about savory and sweet foods, Brandy placed her order.

First up was a side of Hand Cut Fries, which came served with not only with some ketchup, but also a truffle aioli, which Brandy thought was a nice addition.  The fries had a perfect thickness and texture, with a crisp exterior and a fluffy interior.  "It's good to see they're not just throwing some generic frozen fries onto the table," Brandy said, "But I could do with some more of this truffle aioli!"

As a variation on the fries, Brandy also ordered the Hipster Poutine.  Brandy was a little disappointed to see that this was not really a poutine, but more along the lines of chili cheese fries, which is perhaps why they were called "hipster."  Instead of gravy, the fries had been topped with something called "sauce of a dozen spices," which while delicious, served more as a seasoning for the fries than a dressing.  There were no cheese curds (the ultimate sin in Brandy's mind), but a mix of various cheeses had been melted onto the top of fries, making them gooey and even more decadent.  The fries were also topped off with some green onions, Tasso ham, and bacon, which gave them nice bits of texture and smokiness.

Starting with her first burger, Brandy dug into the infamous Ramen Burger, a dish that was popularized in California last summer and has somehow only now made its way to Chicago.  Instead of a traditional bun, this burger had two rounds of deep fried ramen noodles, which while not the most ideal means of burger containment, provided a really unique crunch.  The meat on the burger was actually a very good quality kobe beef, which meant the texture was soft and succulent.  The toppings included an aged cheddar, arugula, sun dried tomato, Sriracha, and a fried egg.  Pressing down the ramen bun caused the egg to burst immediately, though sadly the yolk seemed to just drip through the burger and onto the plate, making the bottom bun soggy and loosing the velvetiness it could have lent to the burger.  The egg was actually very salty, causing Brandy to take sips of her drink between every few bites, and although she had braced herself for the hot sauce, there was only one bite that she could even detect that it was there.

Lastly, since the Ramen Burger served as her savory, Brandy countered it with the Donut Burger.  This delicacy was supposedly a Southern invention, originally made with a Krispy Kreme glazed donuts in place of the bun.  The burger this time was made with Angus beef, which made it a more heavy and deeply flavored, though it was a little difficult to taste the meat underneath a heavy handed, yet not unwelcome douse of housemade sweet ketchup, which almost resembled more of a barbecue sauce.  "It's rather smart of them to have paired the donuts with a sweeter sauce," Brandy smiled, "Going more savory would have been folly."  Also adding to the sweetness were some caramelized strawberries, but swinging back into the savory direction was some bacon, pepper jack cheese, and just a little bit more of that truffle aioli.  The thing that Brandy appreciated most about the burger was the fact that the top donut had been slightly charred, giving it not only a burnt sugar taste, but also a smokiness that matched well with the dish's more savory aspects.

After bidding goodbye to her sweetly talkative server, Brandy waddled off outside into the rain, feeling as full as she ever had, but quite satisfied with her little burger adventure.  "Sometimes, it's nice to reacquaint one's self with an old favorite," she said, "It's like suddenly being reminded why you fell in love with someone you've been with for years.  There's nothing wrong with a little variety, after all."

The Short and Sweet Review

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