so burgers, eh? burgers be BLOWIN UP! everywhere. all over the place. everybody seems to think that just because they use real beef rather than the dehydrated dog turds that many fast food restaurants rely on (an entirely fair and researched accusation), they are the burger champs. five guys? burger 21? delicious, delicious burger monger?? WHAT A BUNCH OF JERKS. i mean, come on guys, get with the program – burgers are boring. i’m really into corn on the cob now.
BUT for those stuck in 2011, your burger options are huge. especially if you’re a carrollwood resident. there are like ten burger places within walking distance of each other. they each have their own thing going for them, though, and BGR is no exception.
BGR – the burger joint, is one of the recent additions to carrollwood’s offering of burger places, on dale mabry, fairly close to the burger 21. i was invited recently to come try the burgers, and meet the founder. this particular burger place (actually a joint) is the one with the gourmet burgers. you know, GOURMET. fancy-style. there’s a lot of flavor to be found here, and no, i’m not just talking about the burgers. did somebody say ROCK AND ROLL??
…no? nobody said anything about rock and roll? cause i’m pretty sure someone mentioned it. maybe it was… this guy??
it’s the guy on the right. that’s the guy. mark bucher. he’s the man who birthed BGR, and he is, in fact, the guy who said something about “rock and roll”. because he was a DJ. and the distinct flavor of “rock and roll” is infused in every BGR restaurant. but i’m getting ahead of myself! let’s start at the beginning.
here we go. this is the beginning. a lump of steaming hot beef. cooked to perfection. this was the dream of mark bucher (or dj butch, as i will refer to him from now on). and by dream, i mean extreme obsession, resulting in a 16 month self proclaimed “burger-palooza”, in which he went around the country, from restaurant to restaurant, tasting every burger he could find, driving himself further and further into beef-induced insanity. he may or may not have been dressed as the hamburglar throughout the duration of this trip.
so, this magical trip resulted in the magical creation of a magical beef patty, consisting of a combination of separately ground dry aged prime beef steaks culled from some of the finest dead cattle in america. the recipe is SO secret, that only three living beings are familiar with it. secret beefs. and as it turns out, secret beefs are pretty tasty beefs. these patties are more like steak than hamburger in flavor, and the steak merges together into a beautiful meaty texture. incredibly satisfying.
so he’s got the beef. now throw that on a locally grown brioche bun (from one of tampa’s many bun bushes), add some of BGR’s signature MOJO sauce (typical 1000 island special sauce with a bit of a zing), and set it to some classic summertime music and framed music posters on the wall (music selected by dj butch himself), and you are now sitting in the burger joint.
THEN put a whole bunch of crap on it, and your face will explode with flavor. that’s the heart of BGR… high concept gourmet burgers. oh, sure, you can order some pansy-ass normal lettuce-and-tomato burger, but the staff won’t look you in the eyes, and your kids will no longer respect you. that’s the risk you run. you really wanna mess around with that fire? nah, i didn’t think so.
so we begin with the wellington. pictured above, this monster features the mojo sauce, blue cheese, and a blend of mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic, black truffles, and the upsettingly hedonistic foie gras. the word decadent is the best way i can describe this… it’s ridiculously rich, intense, and in your face. so much so that the flavor the the burger is completely lost behind savory madness. pitting this against a plain burger with just mojo sauce and a slice of cheese would be no contest in my mind – give me the plain. in fact, i enjoyed eating the patty by itself more than the wellington.
we were subjected to a whole bunch of burgers on this fine evening. and surprisingly, each of them made use of a different animal for the patty (save one, which i’ll get to later). this burger was the greek, with a delicious lamb burger patty. the patty was highly seasoned (cumin & garlic), reflecting BGR’s preference for giant, in your face flavors. there was a bit of a gameyness to it, which was nice to have in a burger. its toppings included tzatziki sauce, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, and feta. i understood the toppings – the whole thing reminded me of a gyro – but again i’d really prefer more time with the meat itself. and maybe a little less seasoned.
the ahi tuna burger was the best balanced, in my opinion, which may have been a direct result of the mildness of the seared tuna steak used as the patty (ferrealz tuna steak, not a gross tuna burger patty). the sandwich was accented by pineapple, ginger, teriyaki sauce, and the mojo sauce. everything played well together, melding into a beautiful tropical/pacific feel; again, though, the quality of the meat made me wish i was eating it by itself. delicate and delicious.
voted the “best turkey burger in america” by… eh i don’t know, jesus maybe, BGR’s turkey burger is a masterpiece of modern science, resulting from the unholy union of turkey, mushrooms, and blue cheese. the turkey meat is combined with cheese and mushrooms for moisture and added falvrons, and then the patties are prepared using a sous-vide method, packing the sweet, sexy turkey meat into vacuum-sealed plastic bags, and cooking them at low temperatures until they’re juicy lumps of food. the result is a soft, moist, somewhat chewy, salty and flavorful patty with a bit of a wacky, meaty texture unlike any turkey i’ve ever eaten. probably the best turkey burger i’ve ever eaten, though the competition is not very impressive.
sweet potato fries were served around this point, and thus began the veggie portion of this event. the fries were crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and naturally sweet. very simple, effective sweet potato fries.
and here is the veggie burger. yes, even dj butch sold out and made a veggie burger, which actually turned out to be pretty good! i spent a full month as a vegetarian once, and i would definitely have eaten this burger then. it is comprised largely of black beans and brown rice, as is the flavor (skewing towards the beans). it is savory, and the outside grilled up so nicely that you wouldn’t know it’s not karmically linked to the death of innocents.
we were also given these, grilled asparagus with a balsamic glaze, garlic, and parmesan cheese. it was actually really good! i seriously never have much to say about asparagus, but this was grilled so well, and the extra flavors were just enough, that i really loved this. it’s scary, but i might actually consider these as an alternative to french fries (as they suggest).
and as a final “get the hell out of my store”, we were given delicious chocolate shakes, which were super heavy on the chocolate. it was like drinking melted ice cream. rich, creamy, and thick, made with bryer’s™ brand ice cream.
my impression of BGR is that it’s a good place, but perhaps not for me. everything i like about BGR lies within the beef patty, but i was so blasted with flavors that i didn’t have the time to really appreciate the beef itself (and that’s all i wanted to do). their preparation of the meat is incredible, and it truly is like eating a steak, but going for anything with too many toppings on it is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. or the opposite of that, i guess. drowning the baby with extra bath water. whatever. i prefer burger monger, for the simplicity of their beef, but i would go back to BGR again and get something nice and simple. it’s definitely a good burger joint, but it’s just not mine.
UPDATE: sadly, the carrolwood BGR is now closed. perhaps this event was a last ditch effort to bring in more customers; alas it did not work. if you find yourself sitting in the parking lot, questioning what kind of a god would allow such a thing to happen, stop in the play n trade right next door, buy a video game, then go eat at burger monger or burger 21.