October Burger Club Meeting At Appalachian Brewing Company

This month we ventured a little outside the city to go to a personal favorite spot of mine, Appalachian Brewing Company (50 Third Ave, Collegeville, PA). It’s a little bit of a drive but completely worth it. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon. The beers are fantastic and the food is simply amazing. The burgers in particular are great and there are many varieties. Check ‘em out!

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September Burger Club Meeting at Lucky’s Last Chance

The burgers at Lucky’s Last Chance (4421 Main St) totally live up to the hype! The burgers are awesome and the toppings seem endless. Do yourself a favor and get yourself over to Manayunk to try out what they have going on. The burger patties are thin (like fast food) but most burgers come with two and there’s usually something awesome (like mac and cheese) sandwiched between them! Incredible! There’s also an amazing PB&J burger. I’m 100% convinced that peanut butter is the BEST burger topping ever. Ask me about it. Check out the photos below!

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June Burger Club Meeting at Boot and Saddle

Last month’s burger club meeting was at the Boot and Saddle (1131 S Broad St) in South Philly. I have only heard peripheral things about this place “it was opened before and they just renovated it” was basically my entire knowledge of this venue. The only other thing I knew was that the Boot and Saddle was a place that hosted live bands. Then out of nowhere I heard they had a good burger. Really?? Well then, let’s go!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe location of the B&S can’t be beat, it’s right on Broad Street practically on top of the Ellsworth/Federal subway stop. I was running late from the burbs and was worried I wouldn’t find parking but I easily found a spot right across the street. You’re not going to find that kind of convenience in practically any other part of the city. I ran across the street in the beautiful sunshine and opened the door to a very subdued, dark bar with a few tables on the side for dining. This was not what I was expecting. I thought the Boot and Saddle was going to be the kind of place that was so loud that you can’t even hear yourself think, especially because I heard there was going to be a show that night. The restaurant was quiet and when the band started around 9 or so, it somehow softened the mood even more. The light folk-rock music floated over to our tables and was actually pleasant. The concert venue is all the way in the back of the building, completely separate from the bar and restaurant. I took a little peek inside on my way to the bathroom and it looked like a super cozy space to enjoy a show. The venue itself was not the end of the surprises I had in store that evening.

bs2Let me just say… their burger is AWESOME. Yes, it’s served in a plastic basket with a diner-type piece of checkered wax paper. We’re not going for elegance here at the Boot and Saddle – we’re going for authentic. This burger is the real deal. To quote burger club member Megan’s review, “I liked the organization of the sandwich. The cheese was on the bottom, then the patty followed by the chili relish, lettuce and pork belly. The chili relish sort of sank into the meat to give it a spicy profile. Having the pork belly on top was great because it kind of kept the meats separate. Of course the Gouda was bs1delicious as well! The fries were plentiful and flavorful. Huge shout-out to Beet Ketchup (proprietary) and Bun. That bun was a 6 (out of 5) !! Also, the staff was great, the beer selection was good and fairly priced and the restaurant wasn’t as loud as I expected. Will definitely be back.” That pretty much sums it all up. I would say the bun and gouda were the highlights of this sandwich. Many of us spent a long time talking about how great the bun was. Excellent consistency and taste. The gouda was present throughout the entire burger and was perfect. This is REALLY a burger you have to try.

I’m not sure if we lucked out because we went on a Wednesday night but I really loved the atmosphere of this space. It seems like they really spent a lot of time decorating in that way that makes it look effortless. I can’t say enough good things about this place.

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Good Stuff Eatery Philadelphia Grand Opening

Story & Photos by Amanda Kole

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GoodStuff2The pilot store of Good Stuff Eatery opened on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in July, 2008 but the grand opening event of the new Philadelphia based Good Stuff Eatery (108 S 18th St) was Tuesday, June 24 2014. The event started with a warm welcome from Chef Spike Mendelsohn and owners George Chin and Elaine Massock. For George and Elaine, it has taken four long years to open this restaurant. The two Illinois natives, who were retired restaurateurs, came out of retirement after they fell in love with Philadelphia and the Good Stuff Eatery concept. Chef Mendelsohn’s focus on family and quality food felt like the right fit for them, and so they decided to move forward with their own store. Chef Spike emphasized that what differentiates the Good Stuff Eatery from its competitors is that it is family and food driven. The family presence at this grand opening event was quite evident. His sister, Micheline, took the orders, his mom and dad (also long time restaurateurs) buzzed around the downstairs finishing the last touches for the opening. All stood arm in arm as the speeches were made and the red ribbon cut.

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Now to the food. They have a large menu of burgers, fries, salads, chili, shakes, floats, beers, and the option to “Cluck it!” (substituting a grilled chicken breast in any burger). GoodStuff8There is one vegetarian burger made with a fried Portobello mushroom stuffed with cheese. The veggie burger can also be made vegan upon request. Spike and his entire staff wore shirts with the phrase, “Thank you, Shake Shack, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Burger 21, Smashburger, Five Guys, ect…We’ll take it from here” They seem pretty confident that they’ll be taking over the burger game in Philly, but they might be getting a little ahead of themselves.

GoodStuff10We started with shakes. Spike gave us the run down; it’s vanilla based custard churned at low temp, high butter fat content, which yields a lasting effect on palate and a slow melt. The chocolate flavor has its own chocolate base. I got the Toasted Marshmallow; Spiked called it “A campfire in your mouth.” I found it very sweet, if you like marshmallows you’ll be in heaven. The custard was thick and creamy as promised and also slow to melt so you can take your time enjoying the sweet treat.

Burgers and fries were next. I got the Coletti’s Smokehouse burger, per the suggestion of Micheline (Chef Spike’s sister), as it was touted an award winner. The burgers are made from short rib, chuck and brisket cuts, 82 % lean and GoodStuff2418 % fat. Each patty is weighed out for consistency. The patty is perfectly round and fitted perfectly to the Martin’s potato roll it’s served on. It was very well styled, though a little smashed. The Smokehouse Burger was topped with applewood bacon, sharp Vermont cheddar, fried Vidalia onion rings and chipotle BBQ sauce. All the ingredients were distinct and played well together. The Vidalia onions were battered and fried to perfection. The bacon was flavorful and well-cooked but not crispy. I love the potato bun from Martin’s bakery in Chambersburg, PA. The cheese was melty and delicious. goodStuff16The BBQ sauce was perfectly sweet and smoky and really pulled the whole bite together. The burgers are served medium well unless specified otherwise. Mine was a little overdone but I’ll give them some leeway since it was probably one of the very first burgers ever pulled off the line. They have 10 signature burgers to choose from as well as 3 Farmhouse burgers; a plain burger, cheese burger, and bacon cheeseburger that are served with tomato, onion, lettuce, pickle, and “Good Stuff sauce”.

The fries were delicious! They are double fried, skins left on, sprinkled with minced thyme and the perfect amount of salt. There is also a mayo bar that Spike introduced to his restaurants after being influenced by a trip to Belgium. As GoodStuff23you might know, in Belgium fries are served with mayonnaise, sometimes flavored. Good Stuff has four flavor choices, Mango, Old Bay, Chipotle, and Sriracha. There is also a Horseradish flavor that you can request when you order but it’s kept behind the line for the Prez Obama burger. The Sriracha has a smooth flavor with a little bite at the end; they keep big bottles on the table if you want to punch up the spice. The Chipotle mayo is a little sweet with a light smoked flavor and not too spicy. The Old Bay mayo tastes just like it sounds and has a nice spicy kick from beginning to end. The Mango mayo is smooth and a little sweet, the mango gives it sweetness but it doesn’t have a mango flavor. All the choices on the mayo bar were very tasty and a fun addition to the Eatery. Don’t worry though there is also lots of ketchup and malt vinegar for those who aren’t feeling adventurous.

I had a great time at the Eatery and suggest you go try it for yourself! I will definitely be back to try some more shakes and work my way through that burgers menu.

May Burger Club Meeting at Moonshine

Last month’s burger club meeting was at Moonshine (1825 E Moyamensing Ave) in South Philly, right near the corner of Moyamensing and Mifflin streets. Inside, the restaurant feels familiar and the staff treats you like a regular even if you’ve never been in before. There is a good sized bar as soon as you walk in and a back area with seating for about 25 or so, they also have some tables on their front patio for outdoor seating during warmer months. They had a few beers on tap that aren’t entirely too common to come across in Philly like Duclaw and Fox Barrel Cider. glassObviously their namesake begs the question, “What about the ‘shine?” – oh, they have that too. There was a small debate at my table as to what actually constitutes “Moonshine”. I thought Moonshine was the stuff that they make in the back woods of Appalachia, sure to leave the drinker blind and / or dead. Is it still really “Moonshine” if it’s made under regulations and the watchful eye of “The Man”? Who knows! What I do know is that Moonshine (the restaurant) serves some sort of alcohol concoction and if you’re lucky it will come one of those mason jar wine glasses.

ms0I couldn’t help but notice the cheeseburger egg roll on the menu. These are two of my favorite things – how could I NOT try them? So I did. They were good, just about exactly how you would imagine them to be. They were a combination of an egg roll from your typical corner Chinese food place with ground beef, cheese and onions inside. When I bit into it oil went everywhere. Take this as either a great thing or a horrible thing – it was truly both. We also sampled their mac and cheese because THERE ARE NO RULES AT BURGER CLUB! They have 2 variations – a buffalo chicken and a crab mac and cheese. I don’t personally eat seafood but the buffalo chicken mac and cheese was AWESOME. That combination of the orange buffalo sauce sitting on top of creamy mac and cheese was really delicious. I wish this had been the Mac and Cheese club because I would have liked to have had a giant bowl of that for my meal. I’ve never had buffalo chicken on mac and cheese but it was fantastic. I’m not sure I’ll be able to adequately enjoy mac and cheese without it now. My advice to Moonshine would be to make their mac and cheese, swirl in a bit of the buffalo sauce and stuff it into the burger. I’d be there every day.

ms6As far as their burgers go they have 2 choices as well. I ordered the “Signature Burger” which has kosher dill and shallots cut up real fine in the ground beef, served with cheddar & LTO. We were a little unsure of what that actually was, so let me repeat that: there are pickles and shallots cut up real small, mixed in with the ground beef and then cooked. The burger patty itself sat a little small on the bun (I hate it when either is too big or too small) but the meat was really good. I’m not going to say that I tasted either the kosher dill nor the shallots very much. If I didn’t know it was supposed to be in there I wouldn’t have cared, but because I was expecting something different I was a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the burger was great – just not all that different than a regular one.

ms1I think it’s important to mention that they have a whole bunch of sides to choose from. They have regular fries, sweet potato fries, a side salad and tots. I went for the tots. Can I get cheese on those? You betcha. The tots were unlike most I’ve had – they were real doughy – yet fluffy, fried and completely delicious. You don’t get a lot of them but you don’t need a lot, they’re very filling. The tots were really, really, really good. Get the cheese sauce. My waiter brought the cheese sauce on the side so that it didn’t make them soggy so you know what? I had cheese sauce on my burger. I had cheese sauce on my tots. I had cheese sauce on french fries I stole from my friends. That was the best thing to happen to me in weeks.

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ms3The other burger choice was a “Build your own burger”. Those that went with this option really enjoyed it too. The topping choices were cheddar, blue cheese, mozzarella, caramelized onion, hummus, Pico de Gallo, avocado and bacon and fried egg. The possibilities are plentiful and everyone can really get what they want. Some went with a classic blue cheese and bacon. One fella went with Pico de Gallo and avocado – wow! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Pico de Gallo on a burger but I heard it was really good!

All-in-all we had a great time! The staff was very friendly and I really liked the vibe from this place. Moonshine is a nice neighborhood bar that’s trying to do something a little different than your standard pub grub. There aren’t too many places in Philly that have tots (and definitely not like these ones) and if you come across a place that even comes remotely close to Moonshine’s buffalo mac and cheese I need to hear about it. If you’re in the area and you’re looking for a good meal at a reasonable price, go here.

April Burger Club Meeting at Jerry’s Bar

Last month’s burger club meeting was at Jerry’s Bar (129 W Laurel St) per the suggestion of one of our members, Les A. This awesome little bar is nestled in a quiet neighborhood just far enough from the Piazza to keep the hipsters at bay. I’m not completely familiar with this part of the city and at first had NO IDEA where it was, but had one of those “ah ha” moments when I finally found it. The inside of the bar is really super awesome. It’s decorated with an old time feel combined with new-age metal work and cozy exposed brick. A particularly weird/awesome touch was the powdered hand soap on the first floor bathroom (ONLY the first??) which left me confused yet clean. There’s a huge bar on the first floor and a bonus smaller bar on the second. There’s tons of seating for your whole group, including ours which sat on the second floor.

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breakfast burgerAs we got comfortable in our seats the very pleasant Australian-accented server took our drink orders. When she came back she also had a little treat from the kitchen – a CRAZY breakfast burger. She said the chef wanted to “have a little fun” and we were the lucky guinea pigs. It had fried scrapple for a bun along with bacon and a fried egg on top. You know those moments in life when everything is going in slow motion and the world seems to tilt on its axis? Then you realize it’s probably just your arteries clogging and you manage to pull yourself together before your heart stops beating completely. Yeah. Wow. It was delicious.

jerrys burgerAfter my warm up I decided to keep things moving in the right direction with more red meat, so I ordered Jerry’s Burger with bacon and a fried egg – why not? It was completely worth the price. Caramelized onions, cheddar, bacon, egg – there’s no better combination. The meat was delicious and the bun held everything together perfectly. As far as my experience goes, I couldn’t ask for much more since I was able to pair my burger with my favorite cider, Mckenzie’s. It’s hard to find and so perfect!

They really just let us do whatever we wanted since it was basically monsooning outside and not too many people were in the bar. surf and turfDo you remember that day with the incredible rain? I literally saw a car up to its windows with water on my way over – but it would take a lot more than that to keep me from a delicious burger. I digress.. MY POINT IS that Bobby got a surf and turf burger with scallops on it. How did that happen? He loved it. Looks like it had peppers and some sort of green sauce that only he and God know what was in it. The staff was amazing to us and indulged us in all our burgerie dreams.

I can’t wait to go back to Jerry’s bar. This is definitely not a place to miss. If you’re around the northern liberties / fishtown area you NEED to go here. The ambiance and food are truly top notch.

March Burger Club Meeting at Strangelove’s

slLast month’s burger club meeting was at Strangelove’s (216 S. 11th St). This was my first visit to the new-ish place. After Doc Watson’s closed its door on this location it seemed as though the space had a curse on it. So, so many restaurants (Blue Bear Tavern, The Boilermaker, The Butcher & The Brewer) tried to make something happen in this spot but couldn’t. Hopefully Strangelove’s will change all that. This location may have been quite daunting to an inexperienced restaurateur – but not so for veterans Leigh Maida and husband Brendan Hartranft. Their previous endeavors have been Burger Club favorites for some time – Memphis Taproom, Local 44, and Resurrection Ale House. Strangelove’s did not disappoint.

First of all, they have two bars. TWO. The downstairs section has a bunch of tables on one side with the bar on the other followed by another seating section in the back. Just in front of the kitchen are the stairs to the second level. menuThe bar on the second floor is about the same size as the one downstairs with more seating. This place is really big inside despite the small lot it sits on. There was plenty of room for the Club to stretch out and talk about the burgers we would soon be enjoying. Strangelove’s offers three burgers- “Joe Burger” which has LTO with cheddar, pickles and mayo, “Strangelove’s Burger” has fried tomato with bacon BBQ sauce, goat cheese and esplette aioli, and then the “Veggie burger” made from lentils and beets with cucumber slaw and harissa mayo. With three great choices it was hard to pick just one.

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strangeloveburger2I had the Strangelove’s burger because how can I say no to something with goat cheese on it?? It was fantastic. The burger as a whole had an excellent flavor. The creamy goat cheese softened the fried tomato and all the flavors blended perfectly together. The only small complaint was that the bun was a little too big strangeloveburger3and a little too “bready” if you get what I’m saying. The other thing about this place that stinks is that the burger doesn’t come with fries. I had to (HAD TO) order the fries for the side at an additional $3. Making the meal in total $17 – yikes! Someone else at my table ordered a side of the smoked gouda grits and I got to sneak a taste. I would eat those grits in the morning. I would eat those grits at night. I would eat those grits in the afternoon, to make me feel alright. I WOULD EAT THOSE GRITS IN TIME OF PEACE, AND ALSO IN TIMES OF WAR! I would eat those grits, and then I would eat those grits and then I would eat some more. I digress.

Strangelove’s is a truly awesome spot. So awesome that I went back only a few days later. If you haven’t gone yet I would strongly recommend it. The burgers were truly good, albeit a bit pricy. The beer list is incredible and if you’re accustomed to the quality of their other restaurants I’m here to tell you Strangelove’s is the best one yet. Till next time!

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March and April burger of the month at Lucky Strike

Written By: Sarah Blatchly

Burger of the MonthWhen thinking of Lucky Strike (1336 Chestnut St) in the past, I’ve always pictured an uber-chic adult playground. Bringing meaning to the seemingly contradictory phrase “upscale bowling”, Lucky Strike boasts a good sized and gorgeous bar area complete with ample seating and cozy booths in addition to the elegant bowling lanes. I’d never heard anything about the food at Lucky Strike, but past experiences with Bowling Alley food have definitely left me wanting (I’m no Ron Swanson in that respect) so I was interested to see what Lucky Strike had to offer.

Upon arrival to the lounge area, my friend Nicole and I were greeted enthusiastically by all members of the staff. They ushered us quickly to a private booth they had reserved and set for our use, complete with a tablecloth and candles to add to the ambiance. BarCory, the General Manager of the Philadelphia Lucky Strike location, quickly came over to greet us and provide us with more information about the March and April Burgers of the month we would be trying. Salivating over the two descriptions of the April and March , Nicole and I tried to guess which of the two would be our favorite; the March Saint Patrick’s Day themed “Lucky burger” or April’s “glazed ham-burger”. The “Burger of the Month” feature is new to Lucky Strike, and is posed as a challenge to all Executive Chefs throughout the chain to come up with innovative ideas for seasonal burgers. April’s burger was dreamed up by Philly’s executive chef, Scott Dobbs.

Lucky BurgerWe were well taken care of in our brief wait for the burgers, getting visits from both a seasoned waiter and another manager of the branch, Joel. Each raved over both burgers, saying one of the best perks of their job was trying the range of food the lounge had to offer (and especially the burgers). Executive chef Scott brought the burgers straight to our table, cooked to perfection and each drool worthy in their own right. The Lucky Burger was perhaps the more daunting of the two, a savory delight boasting an all-beef burger and topped with melted white cheddar and a twist on a traditional Irish dish known as “Colcannon” (mashed potatoes filled with chopped bratwurst cooked in Guinness, green cabbage and sweet onions). If mashed Lucky Burger Cross Sectionpotatoes and bratwurst on a burger weren’t enough, Lucky Strike goes a step further and tops the whole confection with a healthy helping of Guinness Gravy. YES THAT’S RIGHT, Guinness gravy. The burger gods have answered my prayers in the form of this delicious goodness—this was the stuff of dreams. The burger came with a side of chips, and I found myself using both the ends of the brioche bun and the chips to sop up every last bit of gravy I could.

Glazed Ham-BurgerThe glazed ham-burger was adorably topped with a peep in honor of Easter. Comprised of juicy half pound all-beef burger and topped with melted Swiss cheese, the piece de resistance of this burger was the brown sugar & mustard glazed ham steak. Initial fears that this burger would be too sweet were quelled after one bite of this deliciousness. The pretzel bun effortlessly complimented the sweet glazed ham, and the melted Swiss gave the burger an upscale ham and Swiss feeling that struck the perfect balance between savory and sweet.

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Bowling enthusiasts and burger snobs alike would benefit from giving the Burger of a Month a try at Lucky Strike. The sheer innovation and combination of tastes alone makes each burger stand out from the myriad options in Philly. The comfortable lounge area invites easy conversation and the range of food available caters to all tastes. After my experience at Lucky Strike, my question was not if I should return, but when.

February burger club meeting at St. Stephens Green

logo2Our burger club meeting last month was at St. Stephens Green (1701 Green St). This has been a favorite little place of mine for a while. St. Stephens has the familiarity of a neighborhood bar with pub grub that’s actually a lot more sophisticated than most. A good review for this place requires a nod to a few non-burger items such as the Irish Bacon Grilled Cheese (7 Cheese Blend, Ugly Ripe Tomato, Brioche) and they usually have a killer Gnocchi dish on special that’s hard to pass up. Also let’s not forget to mention their beer list – it always has something awesome and usually some pretty unique items.

We settled into our tables in the front section of the restaurant. St. Stephens has the luxury of being a pretty big building, complete with a semi-private area a few steps behind the bar – great place for a birthday or big family gathering. We ordered our drinks and labored over what toppings to put on our burgers. St. Stephens only has one burger – the 17th St Burger. This is what I call a “choose-your-own-adventure” burger. There are no themes. There is no kitsch. Your choices are: bacon, grilled portobello, caramelized onion, roasted peppers, Gorgonzola, brie, herbed goat cheese, mozzarella or feta and they’ll throw a fried egg on there if you ask VERY nicely.

IMG_20140226_200311I went with THREE toppings (you can do that???) gorgonzola, bacon and caramelized onion. Classic. It was delicious! My only gripe was that the onions weren’t truly caramelized but half-heartedly grilled for a little while – but who’s keeping score? It didn’t detract from the burger as a whole that much. I enjoyed it tremendously. The meat itself was perfectly seasoned and cooked exactly the way I wanted it. Sometimes restaurants have a very hard time managing the cooking temperatures for our large group but St. Stephens did a wonderful job.

IMG_20140226_200304Burger club member Michele got her burger with roasted peppers and mozzarella. She said that the peppers were roasted perfectly; a little crunchy with that char on the outside that makes them sweet. She liked the mozzarella very much, together with the peppers the burger took on a slightly Italian taste. Michele ALSO said that her burger was cooked exactly to her liking and seasoned well. Sounds like their top chef was on the grills that night.

We had a great time at St. Stephens Green for burger club. They were very welcoming to us and overall, things ran seamlessly. If you haven’t had the chance to try this place you should! Parking around the area is pretty bad but it’s only a short walk from the subway. Till next time!