I learned a really interesting thing about burgers this weekend.
Everyone disagrees on what perfection is.
I thought it was pretty simple – juicy meat, gooey cheese, some variety of toppings that taste good, and BAM – awesome burger.
But, no. Some people hate toppings. Some people love blue cheese. Some people want meat, bun, cheese, done. I tasted all that, and then some at this weekend’s first ever Twin Cities Burger Battle.
First off, while I have to point out that no burger battle (in my opinion) is ever complete without representation from the Blue Door and the Happy Gnome, I was amazed by the variety, and deliciousness, of burgers from places I had barely heard of.
Clearly I needed to broaden my horizons and educate myself. And where better to do that than at a burger battle?
If I had to sum up this even in three words, they would be: So. Much. Beef.
So much beef. 13 burgers in 3 hours. I only made it through 12. My trusty tasting companion made it through less than that (I blame his higher beer consumption), and even without tasting every single burger, I was averaging 4 burgers an hour. Insanity. Delicious insanity.
As with every first time event, there were ups and downs. For the most part, generally ups. Especially being something new a different. Here’s the quick and dirty version.
- You had more than enough to eat. At some tastings, portions are small, and you feel like you are elbowing your way over to that last piece of smoked salmon, but not here. Some places had sides to accompany their “sliders”, which were really slightly less-giant burgers, and I won’t feel the need to eat beef again for weeks.
- All food and alcohol was covered.
- You got to vote on your favorite – yay for audience participation!
- Long lines managed to go fairly quickly. With the exception of the burger at Victory 44. That must have been made of solid gold, because the line for that was always far too long.
- They only had 3 kinds of Summit available, so not many options for non-Summit or non-beer lovers. I’d love to see Crispin or Angry Orchard there next year as well.
- There wasn’t an explanation of the judging criteria. When the official winner was announced, it would have been nice to have some idea of what the judges were judging on. And I think more than one person agreed with me, based on the booing that ensued when they announced the winner. But seriously, who boos at a burger battle?
- The event was too short. 4.25 burgers per hour is a hard rate to maintain, especially with lines that take longer than 15 minutes to go through.
- There wasn’t any dessert. Yes, it was a burger battle, but we found that having the same flavor palette for 3 straight hours threw off our taste buds. If we had something sweet to mix in with all the savory, we may have been able to ingest more burger.
But what you really want to know about (I’m assuming, you are reading a food blog after all) is the burgers.
The people’s choice went to Golden Nugget, which I think surprised a lot of people, but their beef/ham combo with bone marrow mayo really set the tone with a nice, balanced flavor.
The official winner was B-52 and their spicy jalepeno burger. Definitely not my top choice as it was basically meat, cheese, and jalapenos with some really delicious fries on the side, but I get how people would like that.
I’m not going to describe all 12 burgers to you, but I will single out my top and bottom 3 for special recognition.
The Stilton Burger from Bulldog Lowertown
Sorry Bulldog, I just don’t like blue cheese. And the weird spicy crust on your burger wasn’t doing it for me.
Red Cow’s French Onion Burger
It made me really sad that I didn’t like this one, because Red Cow has some amazing burgers. I think they really blew their shot at getting new customers with a bland, uninspired offering. The burger was dry, the chive sour cream had no flavor, and then they threw a few potato chips on top and called it a day. It was a letdown after some of the incredible offerings I’ve had in their restaurant.
The Groveland Tap’s deep fried burger
Not happy deep fried, like State Fair deep fried, but sad deep fried like a quarter sized beef patty wrapped in a giant bun and deep fried so all you taste is batter and bun. And they somehow managed to make the actually burger part very dry. Which seems hard to do with a deep fryer.
My Burger’s Truffle Pig
I had never heard of My Burger before that day, but I will definitely be going back. Truffle aioli, juicy patty, cheese, bacon. I don’t even like bacon, and I liked this. It probably helped that I was starving and it was the first thing I ate. They also handed out samples of homemade ice cream later on, so that also scored them extra points.
The Nook’s kabob-burger
Points for unique concept/plating. Points for delicious, fresh veggies in a tasty sauce. Points for putting honey on your cheese curds. Genius.
The Golden Nugget’s chimichiri burger
This burger made me wish I had skipped a few of the others, so I could keep eating it. I was far too full at that point, but it was a tasty offering from another place I had never heard of. I’ll be visiting there again soon.
So, were you at the Burger Battle? What was your favorite? What makes a perfect burger?