Burger Blast Roundup: The Prequel to Perfection Part 1

Jeff "jfood" Schlesinger

The last year has been filled with brisket, sirloin, Wagyu, chuck and short rib, all ground, seasoned and grilled to various degrees of perfection. The current count of visited restaurants now tops 60, including a wide range of venues. From non-chain fast food, to bars where burgers share the stage with great beers, to restaurants where the burger has become an “underground challenge” to high-end chefs, the list grows from Greenwich to New Haven.

But only the top 10 will be chosen for the “Non-Chain Fast Food and Bar Burgers” and another 10 for the “Restaurant Burgers” lists. Many of those visited and tasted were the result of suggestions we received from our readers. With sixty+ burgers and thousands of fries under our belts (pun intended), CTbites begins this series of prequels to give quick thoughts on several that were enjoyed and others not so much.

Let’s randomly roll through a few selected burgers in CTbites new weekly column…The Burger Blast.

Boulevard 18 (New Canaan) & Strada 18 (SONO)– Each of these restaurants serve Chef David Raymer’s eight-ounce certified black Angus and Wagyu beef “Strada 18 Burger” topped with caramelized onions, raw sweet red onion, cherry peppers, Gruyere (Cheddar and Roquefort also available), garlic aioli, lettuce and tomato served on a sesame brioche. The meat is incredibly rich and flavorful and the caramelized onions are soft and sweet and the Gruyere adds a creamy texture and nutty flavor. The brioche adds a sweet complement to the rich meat.

Flipside (Fairfield) - The “Specialty Sirloin Burger” starts with tradition ground sirloin to which I added bacon and American cheese. The kitchen did a nice job in cooking the burger to my requested medium-rare. The meat is compressed and juicy and has a decent flavor, but not as rich as some of the grass-fed burgers in the area. The burger is wide and thin and the bun is large enough to handle it, but would benefit from toasting. The bacon is incredibly salty and should be avoided and completely overwhelms the flavors of the meat and the cheese needs to be removed from the burger.

Ginger Man (Greenwich) – The “Ginger Man Burger” includes hand cut fries, lettuce, tomato and onion served on a toasted English muffin. I ordered it with bacon, cheese and caramelized onions, medium-rare. The patty is loosely formed and is cooked perfectly but not seasoned at all and offers very little beef flavor. The bacon is abundant and very good and the onions are soft, but would benefit from a little more caramelized. The hand cut fries were excellent (some of the best) with a firm texture, crispy on the exterior and soft on the exterior. 

Super Duper Weenie (Fairfield) – The “Natural” burger is 7 oz of delicious beef, with very distinct flavor, nicely seasoned and served on a bun that lets the flavor of the burger shine. The grill-master cooked it to a perfect medium-rare. As much as the bacon and cheese are very good additions you may want to try one of their house-made toppings to add other great flavors to this great burger.

Stay tuned for next week’s Burger Blasts as CTbites continues its march to the Best of Burgers.