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CTbites' Best Restaurant Burgers in Fairfield County: 2014 Edition

National Burger Month draws to a close.

What better way to celebrate the conclusion of an entire month of enjoying some incredible hamburgers than announcing the 2014 CTbites' winners of the Best Restaurant Burgers of Fairfield County. More burgers challenged last year’s winners and three were successful, Olio, Mama’s Boy and Bar Sugo.

For the second year in a row, the winner is: 

The Whelk– 2014 Best Restaurant Burger in Fairfield County

1 - The Whelk (Westport) – The Whelk Burger combines a blend rich flavored meat, sweet pickles, cry baby Swiss cheese, two varieties of bacon, crisped onions and onion mayo on a brioche bun. The dry aged blend of short rib, brisket and chuck from Craft Saugatuck Butchery was fantastic. The cheese covered, thick patty sat atop two different varieties of bacon that added saltiness and smokiness, while slices of sweet pickles, a slice of frisée and the onion accented mayo brought additional flavors and textures. Sitting atop the plump patty was a handful of crisped onions. These were all encased in a sweet brioche bun. The flavors were overwhelmingly delicious with smoky, salty, sweet all complementing the deep, rich flavors of the beef with the crisped onions adding a fun and crunchy texture. The hamburger was served with shoestring fries that were perfectly prepared and salted. 

2 - South End (New Canaan) – The “South End Burger” created by Chef Nick Martschenko started with fantastic beef, topped with double smoked bacon, American cheese, South End burger sauce and served on a poppy seed roll. The flavor of the meat was perfect, and Chef Martschenko charred the exterior while maintaining a medium rare interior that oozed tons of juicy goodness. The bacon was crisp and flavorful and complemented the meat. A few slices of B&B pickles adorned the burger and added another delightful flavor and the melted American cheese encased the patty. The sauce was a chunky spiced ketchup-y delight, which added another flavor level. The roll was light on flavor and allowed the bold flavors inside to shine. The fries were delicious, lightly salted with a dusting of parmesan cheese and was a great side for the burger.

3 - Elm (New Canaan) – The “elmburger” is another winning dish created by Chef Brian Lewis. The burger started with an incredibly flavorful meat topped with soft and sweet caramelized onions and a layer of melted Gruyere cheese. The caramelized onions were the best that I sampled on my travels and the Gruyere added a slight nuttiness to the dish. (The cheese changes often). Unlike any other burger in the area, the elmburger sits atop a swath of Sriracha aioli that added just a touch of heat (the only burger tasted that included a spicy component) to take the flavors to another level. The bun was toasted and a delicious addition to the meal. The burger was served with thick cut fries.

4 - The Chelsea (Fairfield) & MATCH (South Norwalk) – The “Chelsea Burger” and the “Match Burger” each delivered an incredible array of flavors. Chef Matt Storch’s burger started with Craft Saugatuck Butchery’s rich, grass fed short rib, chuck and brisket combination. After grilling to create a crisp char and smokiness, the burger was dipped in a Bacon-Cheese Béchamel, a process created by Chef Storch. Bacon bits sat atop the cheese-dipped burger to add saltiness and then sweet-sour onions finished this presentation. The burger was encased in a sweet onion brioche from the Good Bread Company in Port Chester, which added just a little more sweetness to the burger. The fries at Match were the best I tasted, and Chef Storch told me he worked years developing his technique; crunchy on the exterior, soft and moist on the interior and were the perfect complement to the burger.

5 - Harlan Social (Stamford) – The “Harlan Burger” included a special blend of short rib, chuck and brisket from Pat Lafrieda and then Managing Partner and Chef Steve Lewandowski elevated the flavors with his unique toppings. He first basted the burger with a house-made “Japanese Worcestershire Sauce” and then added his “Cheddar Ale Sauce,” comprised of four varieties of cheese, mushroom stock and cream ale. He topped these items with a delicious Bacon Onion Jam. The sweet, sour, salty, umami elements were all present. Then Chef Lewandowski encased the burger in a Portuguese Muffin from Boston (my favorite bun on the tour), which added a sweet accent.

6 - Napa & Company (Stamford) – The Napa Wagyu Burger which has appeared on this list since its inception. The large, marbled meat was perfectly prepared and then topped with an onion jam, aged Gouda cheese, and pepper mayo, all encased in a brioche roll. The meat was rich and juicy and the onion jam was fantastic. The aged Gouda cheese was perfectly melted and brought a deep nutty flavor to the burger. The fries that accompanied the burger were delicious.

7 - Olio (Stamford) - The Olio House burger is a unique combination of flavors and ingredients. It starts with a thick all-beef patty topped with Tasso ham, melted Manchego cheese, caramelized Cipollini onions, with a schmear of roasted tomato aioli, all encased in a Brioche roll from Eli’s. It is served with thick steak fries and a side of ketchup. The burger is excellent. The meat was lightly formed with the grind of the meat still present. The substitution of the Tasso ham for a traditional smoked bacon added a significant level of pepperiness and the mild Manchego cheese added a nice creaminess. The star of this combination was the caramelized Cipollini onions, they were fantastic, creamy, sweet, just a great addition. The roll added a good buttery complement.

8 - Mama’s Boy (SONO) - The “Mama’s Boy Burger” is the third newcomer to this year’s list. It combines local grass fed beef with house-smoked bacon, fried Vidalia onions and pickles, encased in a brioche bun. (The current burger now includes pimiento cheese). The 5-6 ounce patty was perfectly seasoned and the bacon strips added a significant amount of smokiness and a touch of saltiness. The fried onions (nestled under the burger) were soft and sweet and adding a few of the pickle slices added sour notes. Served with shoestring fries, this is another great item on their menu.

9 - Bar Sugo (Norwalk) – “the burger” at Bar Sugo includes a 6-8 ounce patty from Saugatuck Craft Butchery shiitake mushrooms, melted Robiola cheese, atop frizzled onions and topped with a fried egg, served with a cup of French fries. Make sure you have a few napkins since once you release the creamy goodness of the egg yolk, combined with the creaminess of the melted Robiolo, it is a two-handed burger with outstanding flavor. The sautéed shiitake mushrooms added a great earthy flavor and the frazzled onions just the required level of crunch.

10 - Le Farm (Westport) – The “Beef Burger” with B&B pickles, mayonnaise, Cheddar cheese and bacon on a brioche delivered incredible flavors. The meat was charred on the exterior and the interior texture was soft. The interior was perfectly prepared to medium rare and was moist and juicy. The house-made pickles added a sweet element and the cheese and mayo were delightful and creamy complements; the bacon was a little bold for the other flavors. All of these delicious ingredients were encased in a brioche bun, a favorite of mine.

Congratulations and thank you to all of these winners for creating some incredibly delicious burgers.

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Reader Comments (16)

The Whelk has, without equal, the best fries I have ever eaten: piping hot, perfectly salted, thin enough to shatter on the outside with enough interior for a bit of flavor and chew, served in paper to minimize sogginess from their heat and with two addictive sauces. I can't not order them every time we go, even though I swear I won't because I'm trying to "eat light." Ha.

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTravels4Food

Could not disagree more... no love for Oak + Almond ? or Walrus + Carpenter or Match ? really ? every article on this site tends to be about the 10 restaurants mentioned above... my last comment was deleted because i had a different opinion than CTBITES, let's see if this one sticks.

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdevnull

The photo above #4 looks like a freshly slaughtered calf. Is it safe, as it looks grossly under cooked.

The last one looks drool worthy!

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRJK


O+A - There is plenty of love, and it was on the 2013 list. There has been a bit of a turnover in their kitchen and they are getting their feet back under them. It is only fair to allow for some stability to return and then re-visit
W+C - That is on me. I did not have the opportunity to sample their burger. CTbites has both covered and recently sponsored a tremendously successful CTbites Invites at W+C. Stay tuned when I visit and report back on the burger
Match - Please see #4 above, I agree it is one of the best and has been since it was introduced a few years ago.

Thanks for the feedback.

The " FIX" is in.
Five guys for the rest of us!!!

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFoodieonline

Indeed i missed Match as it was first titled Chelsea, ( which is odd to me ) Yes Chef Jeff has left O + A but the burger is the same and just as good, i think it was an oversight not to include it (or at least taste it ), W + C I think they cook the burger in the smoker and as I have had most of the burgers here, I think it beats them all except Match.

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdevnull

Walrus and Carpenter's burger is absolutely outstanding!

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Cobbs Mill Inn in Weston.

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFoodieonline

a group of us went to WHELK based on your "best hamburger Iin fairfield cty" was our opinion that this burger was fair at best............the burger was dry, had no juice, came medium instead of medium rare and again only fair...--not fair to good. At $20.00 per burger it should have been outstanding which it definately addition the roll was tasty buy cold and the bacon well overcooked. the only saving grace was that the french fries were done perfectly and tasty...........our group really felt you you need to reevaluate your ratings and rankings

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPETER D

Hi Peter D.,
So sorry to hear about your experience. I would love to speak with you directly. Please contact me at your convenience.

Andrea Dinan
Manager of Operations
LeFarm/The Whelk

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Dinan

So is this really a "Fairfield County" survey? Are we to believe no one makes a good burger north of the Merritt Parkway? Perhaps you should rename it "Connecticut Gold Coasts Best Burgers for $20".

June 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIgnoranceRules


Actually Bick's Burger in Danury won Best Bar Burger in Fairfield County.

If you have a suggestion for any town in FFD CTY please let me know. I am always looking for a new spot.

If bicks burger won why doesn't the article read that way? I'm with ignorance what about Ridgefield, bethel, wilton, redding, georgetown???

June 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjust wondering

@just wondering

There are two lists, this one is for "Restaurant Restaurant Burgers" and the other is for Bar Burgers and can be found at

In the Bar Burger list it specifically states:

"Bick’s Burgers & Fries – 2014 Best Bar Burger in Fairfield County"

I hope that clears the question.

Remember! The best burger at any time is the one in your hand then in your mouth!

June 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRick

Best burgers in the world? Wow. They're all delicious for sure calling them top burgers. I remember that I'd tasted one of top burgers for me from a Philippines catering when I attend an event. Oh, just sharing.

June 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohnny

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