Monday, September 27, 2010

JC's Burger House

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

So for the third Burger Club Dallas outing I headed over to JC's Burger House in Plano. JC's is a local franchised establishment, with the Plano store at 15th and Independence being the original, founded in 1999.
Well, elven years and several awards later they are still making great burgers!

I arrived a little early and was greeted by a very warm and friendly staff. The small restaurant was very clean and well kept, pretty empty for a Saturday night, but that would change soon. I got a drink and waited to place my order, I chatted with a lovely and very helpful young lady named Gabrielle, one of the host/ managers, for a few minutes about the restaurant and menu. I was pleased to hear that they grind their own meat fresh daily, and they have fresh cut fries, and blue bell ice cream shakes! After talking with some of the other patrons and telling them about Burger Club Dallas, I placed my order with Gabrielle. I ordered the half pounder with bacon and cheddar ( they also offer swiss, american, and pepper jack), a side of fires and a strawberry shake. After about fifteen minutes and a great chat with the new owner and a really nice guy, Bill Oglesby, I recieved the following burger!

Wow, so this not only smelled amazing, it looked great too! Contrary to what some people may say, presentation is important, we eat with our eyes. So, I bite into a hot fresh burger with a lightly toasted bun. The meat was cooked to order ( medium) the patty had great flavor and was very juicy, there was some crust, not quite enough for me. The Cheese was melted perfectly and the bacon was thin and crisp, no soggy pork products here. I was so busy shoving this meaty bliss into my mouth that I almost didn't take enough time to evaluate it. It was wonderful and classic, the fries were crisp and well made also. I gave this burger a 9/10, great flavor and very fresh, this place puts Moo Ya and Five Guys to shame in my opinion. The only critiques I had were, the crust on the patty, and the bun not being toasted enough to hold up to the half pounder.  They use shredded lettuce on their burgers and chopped red onion, I prefer whole leaf and whole onion, but that is not a big deal because the ingredients were so fresh!

What was really great to me as well was the staff, they knew most of the people coming in by name,  and they have so many regulars that come in. One couple I met eats there every Saturday night, and all of the scores I got back from people were high!  The Burger Club tally came out to a 9.2  for the burger and 8.5 for the establishment. If you have not tried this place get over there and meet the amazing staff, and tell them I said hi!
Great job JC's keep it up, you guys are running a close second to Twisted Root in Deep Ellum  in my book as best Burger in DFW so far!

Bonus Pic of my super thick and delicious shake!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Village Burger Bar

What went wrong?

So on the second official Burger Club Dallas outing we ventured to Village Burger Bar in Allen TX, we had another group that meet at their west village location also. The Restaurant was pretty empty for a Sunday night just before a Cowboys game which had me a bit worried. It was clean and the decor was very modern and sleek, but kind of boring. I talked to the manager who seemed to care less about what we are were doing there.

(Attention restaurant owners/ managers/ staff- If someone says they are coming to rate your establishment, they may be full of crap or they could be from a major publication, either way you should put your best foot forward regardless!)

Okay, stepping down from my soap box now. Lets move on to the Burgers shall we. I ordered the build to suit Burger,medium, with cheddar, some shoe string fries, and a coke. They had a mirco brew root beer on tap (Abita, even though the website states it is Thomas Kemper) I am a huge fan of Root Beer and have sampled some 60+ different styles. So after awhile of talking burgers with some of the other members of the BCD ( see that is what makes this club fun!) I got this Burger

Looks good right? Well looks can be deceiving, other than the pickles which seemed very fresh, the other toppings did not. It could be that the lettuce looked so bad because it was on the bottom of the burger, so it was instantly wilted from the heat of the patty.  The toasted bun was nice though it did not hold up to the burger very well. Cheese was melted on the patty well. So I take a bite of the burger and find that it is very bland and not very juicy. There is not a very good sear on the patty so the crust is defiantly lacking. I am in shock, I had heard so many great things about this place, and now I find that I could have gone to Carl's Jr. for a better burger, better service and probably about the same price! I score Village a 5.5 out of  10. SEASON YOUR MEAT PEOPLE! Just some Kosher or  Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, Lawry's, McCormicks, ANYTHING! My friends and wife gave this place about the same score, but we do not yet have the final Burger Club Dallas Tally. One of my friends could not even finish her burger and she was still hungry! Later that night we all had indigestion, and not just from the COWBOYS loss! So in the end OVERRATED, snooty and pretentious with poor quality product. Sorry Village but that is a fail in my book!


Their name is Earl’s

So on a tip from the great Rob Bane (see his amazing burger blog ) I went to Earl’s off of highway 380 just to the east of Denton. Now this is not the norm for a great burger place, it is in a gas station. I know what you are thinking and I said the same thing, a gas station burger usually equals poor fast food grade product, agreed and I don’t normally go that route when looking for a great burger, but the giant bill board I saw as I drove up saying “ Best Burger in Denton” put my mind at ease a bit. 

Their signage says they have been in business since 1980 and that kind of longevity also gives one the sense that they are in for a treat. It also means that they probably have an really well seasoned grill! So I went through the drive through for my burger, since I had sleeping kids in the van. I ordered the Earl’s single with bacon which is a half pound patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle on a toasted BUN (they only have a single and a double). I also grabbed some fries ( really good fries I might add), and a root beer. After a bit I got this burger, 

Just by looking at it I could tell I was dealing with really fresh ingredients, the patty was tick and juicy looking  with what appeared to be an excellent crust. Upon my first bite I was not disappointed, great crust and really juicy despite being well done, which I usually prefer to have a bit of pink in my half pounders, more med to med well, but this was still great and well seasoned, and the bacon was crispy and went well with the meat,The bun was nice and toasted, fresh veggies were crisp.

Over all I would give Earl’s a 7.5 out of 10, a really top notch, burger, I would go there just for the fries alone though, some of the best I have ever had. Great job Earl’s next time I am on the way to Denton I will be back!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Square Burger Review

So a while back, before Burger Club Dallas officially kicked off, I went to a place that my friend Albert was nuts about, and wrote a blog review on how glorious it was ,
(see Albert's Square Burger Review)
Square Burger in downtown McKinney, TX is a newer place in the area, that is getting some great reviews
(mostly from Albert, love ya buddy). So, I went to check out the hype, this is the review I wrote on his page, while not the best place around it was good, and I do recommend you check it out if you are in the area.

  1. Bugs, Buns, and Barmaids….
    So after a great deal of hype from Mr. Samuels about Square Burger in downtown McKinney, I made it in for some “Genius” burgers. We came to the restaurant about 1:00pm on a Tuesday afternoon, we would have been there sooner but could not find it as they have no visible sign.
    There were several open tables, but we were seated at the bar as the hostess, a very nice lady, advised us they were expecting a large party. The overall appearance of the restaurant was very modern looking, slightly cramped and not very inviting. Some folks love the modern look, to me that is not what I expect for a “burger place”.
    My lunch companion pointed out right after we were seated a rather large bug on the bar, and then a spider on my shirt shortly after. Now I am thinking “okay this place must be great even the bugs love it!”. We waited for a few moments for the bar tender, a lovely young lady whose name escapes me. I ordered the square burger with onion rings, and was very surprised when the bar maid did not ask how I wanted my burger cooked ( I do not recall seeing a specification on the menu, regarding cooking temperatures.) interesting, I thought I had read somewhere that the service here was “on their A-game” I guess this was a different staff. It is important to mention that the time our order was placed was about 1:10pm.
    So I waited for the amazing burger that I had heard so much about, and waited… two glasses of water later… still waiting. Now the time is 1:35pm almost 30 minutes have gone by no sign of our order. Now for those of you who do not know me, I did attend culinary school and cooked in a four star restaurant, a country club, and several other fine establishments, under the guidance of chefs that trained and taught at the Culinary Institute of America , and cooked on the US culinary Olympic team. I have made a few burgers, and don’t recall it taking that long to prepare a burger and onion rings, ever. Finally at 1 :45pm our food arrives, well part of it anyway. Our server brought us our sides (fries and onion rings) first stating that the rest would be right out. Remember the large party that I mentioned was supposed to be arriving, they had still not shown up as far as I could see, and the restaurant was not that busy for the time. So my long awaited onion rings (which really take about 5 minutes tops from fresh or frozen state to prepare) are getting cold. A few minutes later the burger has finally arrived.
    I ask the bar maid, who has mixed up our condiments and is busy switching them, before she goes get the mayonnaise she forgot, “So how was this burger cooked?” Her response, “We cook everything to medium.” That is great for me because I order mine medium anyway, but what about someone else who likes well done? So I still have great expectations at this point, and I am not disappointed. I bite into a fresh juicy burger with a slightly tangy Cheddar, and a wonderful bun. I am disappointed as was Mr. Samuels by the iceberg lettuce, and to find that the burger was not cooked medium but more medium well, I could see almost no pink. The quality of the meat was good, well seasoned and not dry. The bun was probably the best part of this burger, very well made, great job as always Empire! Now for the onion rings, they were fantastic, defiantly in my top ten of all time, wonderfully crisp and not soggy at all, the tempura  batter was made with a local beer which I love!
    So in summation (I know I wrote a small novel Albert), I would give Square Burger 6.5/10. The lack of service, over all snootiness of the place (just because you are gourmet does not mean you have to be pretentious), and the wait time after order were the real downers. Twisted Root (Deep Ellum Location) is still the King of Dallas burgers in my humble opinion. Still looking for better, and haven’t found it yet. Not bad food, Square Burger, a little pricey — $9.50 just for a burger, not my style on the atmosphere (what do you expect from downtown McKinney). I will be back and hopefully not for the last time, waiting and waiting to be impressed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Burger Club #1 Kenny's Burger Joint

Kenny Bowers is a good restaurateur. Where to start, from his other previous ventures his fare has been proven, it was proven again tonight at Kenny's Burger Joint in Frisco. From the moment one opens the doors and has the sweet smell of Hickory waft over them in the clean lined  restaurant that  is comfortable and welcoming, to the moment when my burger arrived very promptly and in hot and wonderfully fresh condition, the experience was wonderful. I'll say that the Burger Club was not up to the numbers we had expected, but still the fantastic staff greatly accommodated us even on their busiest night of the week!

We arrived early (in official Burger Club Dallas T-shirts, the first person to comment me on this gets one for free). The restaurant had a table for us even though they don't really do reservations. Soon several other patrons began to ask about Burger Club from my shirt, and I told them to check us out online  (Burger Club Dallas). They in turn told me of an amazing Dallas Burger...Adair's? Hmmm...anyone know about this place? This group raved about it; needless to say Burger Club may look into it.

On to the Burgers, that is what this is all about. Our order was perfect, and in great time. My wife having the bacon cheddar burger, and myself going classic cheeseburger and fries, and we shared and adult shake, called the "Naughty Mommy" .. get your minds out of the gutter it was a cheesecake ice cream and liquor glass of amazing! I also ordered some fries which I will get to later. I took a huge bite, and it was wonderful, all very fresh ingredients from the Ciabatta Bun to the thick patty cooked  perfectly medium and the cheese melted just right. Biting into the succulent burger, juices ran down by chin in meatful bliss. While my own personal rating for the burger stands at 8.5 out of 10, I feel the only thing that could cause this burger to be better would be a bit more crust on the patty; not char, the wood fire imparted just the right flavor, and being juicy it was obviously seared well, but maybe just not quite enough. Although being seasoned excellently, I think I could have used some more spice, maybe I'll add a jalapeƱo next time, that one's on me. Defiantly in my top 10 burgers  of all time and somewhere near the top. Oh and the fries, I almost forgot, they are battered, which gives these golden sticks of goodness a great crunch and flavor, no soggy potatoes here.

All in all, it was a great night and a great start to a great adventure.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The adventure begins

"To me, the burger is the perfect sandwich, the perfect meal, one that should never fail to satisfy. But the hamburger is too often over looked and taken for granted." - Chef Bobby Flay

So true are the words of the great Chef Flay, the simple Hamburger has a vast history, who made the first is hard to say. For a detailed history, one can visit this site for more information ( probably more than you would ever want to know.) Hamburger History.

From a very early age I recall loving hamburgers, going out to different places on Sunday after church with my parents became somewhat a family tradition. One establishment in particular stood out, not as much for the burgers as the atmosphere. The Dairyette in Dallas, TX was and still is a wonderful treat, dating back to the 1950's , they serve classic burgers, fries and huge frosted mugs of root beer. Dairyette to see pics/ reviews.  As an adult and a culinary student I have learned to appreciate a simple dish done very well. Most of the best foods in my opinion are simple dishes done very well, the term " peasant food" has been applied to many such dishes, Brisket, Fajitas, even Hamburgers! There is much to be said for a sandwich that serves as a complete meal in and of itself. Bread, meat, cheese, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles all piled high, what more could one ask for?

So at the ripe old age of thirty one I begin my quest for the perfect burger.  Having traveled around a bit and sampled some really great food, I feel that I must start over from home, Dallas, TX more precisely the Dallas, Fort Worth Metroplex.  The quest was spurned by a conversation(s) via blog with my friend Albert Samuels, who gave a rather dismal review of one of my favorite places, Twisted Root Burger Company. To read this blog and other great articles please go to Twisted Root Review. Okay, so maybe Twisted Root should not have franchised it's restaurant, I said it before and I will say it again, it is not always a good idea to franchise a great restaurant! The folks that love your place may not do it as good as you do.

For this and many other reasons, mainly an excuse to eat some great food, I have formed Burger Club Dallas
, to have some fun with friends (and make new ones) who also share a passion for finding the next great american burger.   We will go out once a month to a different establishment to eat and rate their fare, it will be a simple 1-10 rating system for the burger, with a second rating for the establishment as a whole. Nothing snobby, no nit picking, just an unbiased review of  what the place has to offer. Scores will be averaged, and absentee ballots will be excepted at any time! This blog will serve as an outlet for these meetings for myself, as well as other adventures to far off places and the Burger experiences there, like last summer at Wimpy's in South Africa!

So if you love burgers, regardless of where you live, come along for the ride, it should be fun, and Chef Flay if you are reading this, I would love to meet you and try one of your burger creations.