johnny brenda’s – cheeseburger

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I have to admit. I have never eaten at Johnny Brenda’s. I’ve been here several times, whether it’s to see a show upstairs, grab a drink downstairs, or enjoy a brew while sitting along Girard Ave. but not one of my visits included food. There is no reason except for “I don’t know.” This was not due to a lack of interest, though.

Lots of people have told me good things about the food here, more particularly, their burger. Another friend, who’s burger opinions I take seriously, told me that the burger here was one of her favorites. Not too long ago, the stars aligned and I happened to be hungry when I was enjoying a beer at the bar.

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The burger at JB’s is made up of beef (the source could not be found by the staff at the time) which sits on top of lettuce and pickles. It’s then topped with melted cheddar and chopped caramelized onions. I also got a taste of a secret sauce of some sort. The burger is sandwiched between a regular bun. I ordered the burger medium-rare and it came out perfectly medium-rare. There was no lack of juiciness, as I savored each bite. The flavors all came together and made for one tasty burger. The accompanying well-seasoned, tasty hand-cut fries complimented an already great burger.

Only not so great parts? The bun fell apart slightly during consumption (but I can get over that). The portion of fries seemed a bit small. I actually was wanting more once the burger was done. Not that I’m truly complaining…having a large weekly portion of fried potatoes isn’t exactly the greatest habit…

I’m glad I finally tried it. I’m even more glad that I know how good of a burger it is now.

Johnny Brenda’s
1201 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125
215.739.9684

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clinton station diner – cheeseburger

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Clinton, New Jersey is not only home to the first bridge I’ve ever inspected in my career, but home to the Clinton Station Diner, a diner seen off of I-78 that is known for their 50 lb. burger, the Mt. Olympus.

After a meeting in the Lehigh Valley last week, I was headed back into the office where I remembered that the diner was on my way home. Having used to work in the area and had gone to college off of I-78 in Pennsylvania, I was a little bit embarrassed that I’ve never been to this diner. With that in mind, I stopped in for lunch.

Like any other diner, their menu consisted of several pages of items. Clinton Station, however, had a whole page of just burgers! They had a list of regular burgers, specialty burgers, and their “Burgers of the Gods,” which consists of their larger ones (1 lb, 2 lb, 3 lb, etc.). The even have one called the 8th Wonder which weighs in at 105 lbs. total! That’s just unnecessary. Considering I wasn’t the most hungry and I still had a lot of work to do, I went for a cheeseburger deluxe. Deluxe meaning I added lettuce, tomato, cole slaw, and house-cut fries on the side for an additional $2.

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The cheeseburger was made up of an 8 oz. beef patty, two slices of American cheese (one below and one above the meat, lettuce, and tomato. It was sandwiched between a large in house baked bun. I requested it medium-rare and it came out about medium. However, it was dripping with juices and had a delicious char taste from the grill it was cooked on. With all the toppings and size of the bun, every bite was pretty tough as the burger was quite large. It was surprisingly not messy to eat and the house-made bun held up well. The burger to bun ratio was perfect, too.

The house-cut fries could have been really good but they lacked seasoning. They were on the thick side, like steak fries and had a nice crispy exterior. Unfortunately, salt never touched these at all after they left the fryer.

My closing thoughts is that this burger definitely exceeded my expectations for a diner burger. It tasted good and didn’t break the bank. There was also a whole lot of food on the plate, as I didn’t finish my fries or slaw. Unfortunately, the fries were lacking seasoning and I wasn’t even tempted to finish them. I can’t imagine the larger burgers being more than just a novel idea, but if there were a lot of people who wanted to try to do it, maybe I’ll be down?

Clinton Station Diner
2 Bank St.
Clinton, NJ 08809
908.713.0012

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burger bros. – cheeseburger

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A few weekends ago, I ended up in Towson, Maryland with my family for my brother’s track meet. Needing pre-meet lunch, we found this place nearby that had burgers! Burger Bros. is a small burger joint not far from the craziness that is the Towson Town Center. Their menu is pretty simple, offering burgers made from either beef, turkey, or portabella mushrooms, chicken sandwiches, Vienna hot dogs, and a few other things.

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I ordered a cheeseburger. Their cheeseburger is made up of a 6 oz. patty of Angus beef, topped with your choice of cheese (I went with American). Similar to a Five Guys, they have a huge list of toppings you can choose from. I simply added lettuce, tomato, and a little bit of diced onion. They grill their burgers over a charcoal grill and you can taste that great chargrilled flavor on the meat. They don’t ask you how you want your burger cooked, but it was cooked well but not dry at all. The fresh bun was toasted and held together to the meat and other ingredients. We also ordered a bucket of fries to share. These were housecut and absolutely delicious. Definitely bookmarking Burger Bros. for the next time I’m in the Towson area.

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Burger Bros.
14 Allegheny Ave.
Towson, MD 21204
410.321.1880

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primanti bros. – pitts-burger cheese steak

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If you’re not aware, Primanti Bros. has been making sandwiches with fries and slaw for a while now. Whether you hate my decision or not, I made sure to make it to Primanti Bros. on my second trip out to Pittsburgh. Sure, I’ve heard a lot of talk comparing their sandwiches to the cheesesteaks made at Pat’s or Geno’s (overhyped tourist trap-wise, not sandwich), but not all overhyped tourist trappy places are bad. For example, I really enjoyed Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC.

Anyway, after checking out the National Aviary, me and my dining partner made our way over to the original Primanti Bros. in the Strip District. There were a large amount of sandwiches to choose from and my eyes led me to the Pitts-Burger Cheese Steak. Now, I know a lot of my Philly readers are going to give me lip about how this isn’t a cheesesteak. Duh. Of course it isn’t, nor was I expecting anything like what we get over here. I mean, c’mon now, it has the word burger in it, so it’s gotta be different!

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The Pitts-burger Cheese Steak is made up of a burger topped with provolone, tangy slaw, fries, and a tomato which is then placed between thickly cut white bread. The meat had a texture similar to a Salisbury steak or meatball. The provolone was provolone. Same reason why I never get provolone on any sandwiches, there’s just not enough flavor from it. Not a lot of flavors stuck out and some bites were dry. I ended up adding ketchup and hot sauce to a lot of bites. Also, the fries were crisp, but needed to be seasoned more. The sandwiches reminded me of the Fat Sandwiches at Rutgers University, lots of stuff going onto a roll but needed something else to bind them together.

It was nothing stellar but I’m glad I finally tried it!

Primanti Bros.
46 18th St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 263.32142

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brewer’s plate 2013

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A few Sundays ago was Fair Food‘s 9th annual Brewer’s Plate! Brewer’s Plate was held for the second time at the National Constitution Center. This celebration of all things local was a great time. Several restaurants and farms were paired up with breweries to offer food and drink pairings. Here are some photos from the event (Tria’s Dunbarton Bleu Cheese and Consider Bardwell Rupert cheeses shown above):

Table for Fair Food Farmstand, located in Reading Terminal Market.

Table for Fair Food Farmstand, located in Reading Terminal Market.

VIPs were able to experience a guided tasting with Talula's Table's Aimee Olexy.

VIPs were able to experience a guided tasting with Talula’s Table’s Aimee Olexy.

Southwark's Pork Pate was paired w/ Nodding Head's BPA (not pictured).

Southwark’s Pork Pate was paired w/ Nodding Head’s BPA (not pictured).

The crew from Alla Spina, Steve Wildy & Chef Mike DeGanis, having some fun.

The crew from Alla Spina, Steve Wildy & Chef Mike DeGanis, having some fun.

Local brewers Forest & Main had some brews for tasting.

Local brewers Forest & Main had some brews for tasting.

Marcos Espinoza (Side Project Jerky) and Hahri Shin.

Marcos Espinoza (Side Project Jerky) and Hahri Shin.

London Grill's Duck Confit Banh Mi which was paired w/ Desaito Hard Cider

London Grill’s Duck Confit Banh Mi which was paired w/ Desaito Hard Cider

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