Burger Review: The Melt

15 Nov

When the good people at The Melt contacted me and asked if I would stop by their new San Francisco location and try their revamped menu, I emphatically responded, “YES!” Already a fan of The Melt and their absolutely delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, I was eager to give their new burgers a try.

I was greeted with smiles and a reserved seat, sat down and chatted with The Melt’s head of PR and marketing and before I knew it, the table started filling up with food, food, food!  I tried all 3 of the new burgers on their menu, 2 different chicken sandwiches, both types of french fries, and 2 different macaroni and cheese entrees that filled me up beyond belief!

While my burgers were being prepared, I was served both types of The Melt’s fries: The Naked and The Well Dressed.  Their Naked fries are very thinly cut russet potatoes with a perfect hint of  their proprietary “Melt Spice”.  The Well Dressed starts with a batch of Naked fries topped with a creamy, melted dose of cheddar/jack/fontina cheeses, crumbled bacon and crispy onions. While I usually prefer a thicker steak cut fry, these were the perfect balance of crispiness and seasoning.  I munched away and needed a fork to really handle The Well Dressed batch- cheese, onions, AND bacon?!  Oh my!

Next up were the new burger additions to the menu: the Original, the Mission, and the Double Bacon BBQ. The Mission burger includes charred jalapeno and spicy ketchup so one bite of that and my sissy taste buds just couldn’t take the heat so I happily focused my ingestion on the other two.

When I took a bite of The Original, I noticed the meat had a perfect medium cook and even though it was incredibly juicy, the bun still maintained its integrity and DIDN’T get completely soggy. Melted cheese on both sides of the bun acts as a “protective layer” of sorts, keeping the meat in tact and the bun surprisingly dry. Add in that cool hint of shredded lettuce and you’ve got a classic, delectable, tasty little burger!

I say “little” because The Melt’s burgers are 4 ounces of an Angus and Wagyu meat blend, all natural and locally sourced, and that’s really not little at all, for me it’s the perfect amount! Their potato buns are also made locally, from a nearby San Francisco bakery, with NO preservatives, and create a perfect patty-to-bun ratio, leaving no leftovers behind.

My favorite of the day, by far, was the Double Bacon BBQ burger. When it arrived to the table, I thought it might start flapping it’s porky wings and take flight and it did- right into my mouth! I started to tuck the bacon into the bun but then thought, “C’mon now, it’s BACON!” and just munched until I reached the bun to take a big bite.  With that perfect blend of seasoned beef plus the smoky-sweet taste of the BBQ sauce and grilled onions, I was in burger heaven! The combination was so scrumptious, I finished the whole thing… and then ate more!

I also tried 2 of their new chicken melt offerings- the Bird and the ‘Shroom- both on wheat buns,  and found them also incredibly tasty and well made.  Either would definitely be a good, healthy alternative if I ever wanted to take a break from eating burgers… like that will ever happen.

Just when I thought I couldn’t eat another bite, out came the macaroni and cheese! If you read my other blog, you know I love to run so am pretty content to have a meal of carbs, with a side order of carbs, sprinkled with carbs so I chowed on down!  The Trio (pictured above) is a heavenly blend of cheddar/fontina/jack cheese topped with crispy onions, a slight spin on the classic version.  I enjoyed the Trio but when I took a bite of The Melt’s T-Mac- melted fontina and provolone with mushrooms with a hint of truffle oil- I couldn’t stop eating!  That delicate, earthy truffle flavor plays perfectly with the mushrooms and lusciousness of the cheese- nirvana in one bite!

I give The Melt’s new menu 5 out of 5 stars- they take pride in their food and serve high quality sandwiches and salads made with ingredients sourced locally. I prefer to patronize local establishments as opposed to franchises and even though The Melt has several locations across northern and southern California, they have a very neighborhood flair that keeps regulars coming back for more several times a week! Even though I ate my face off, I noticed that I didn’t feel like I had a food coma afterwards- I felt full and great and also, will be back for more.

Thank you again, The Melt, for a such a great experience and tasty lunch! Your new menu is going to be a huge success!!!

$20 and a Sunday in the Temescal

10 Nov

If you know me in real life and/or read my other blog, you know I’m currently injured. After 5 days of bed rest, I was determined to finally GET OUTSIDE today so with a growling tummy and $20 in my wallet, I ventured out the door and down the street…

I’m lucky to live near the Temescal district of Oakland, California, otherwise know as the Gourmet Ghetto (click here to read a Wall Street Journal article, “A New Gourmet Ghetto”) . While it isn’t the nicest area of Oakland, it is definitely one of the tastiest!

It was 10am when I started my walk so my first stop was Arbor Cafe on Telegraph for a small cup of french pressed goodness. There are just a few coffee shops in Oakland I know of that do french pressed coffee- Bica in Rockridge is one and Remedy, also on Telegraph, now unfortunately closed). Arbor brews Bicycle Coffee, a small-batch roaster here in Oakland.  It has a great vibe, friendly people, WiFi, lots of seating and I noticed today, draft beer! Mentioned this to the cashier and she said their happy hour is 4-6pm every day- great to know! (Arbor is cash only though, so you gotta be prepared!)

French Pressed Coffee @ Arbor: $2.50

French Pressed Coffee @ Arbor: $2.50

And on down Telegraph I walked, stopping to take photos of all the mosaic garbage cans (pictured at the very top) lining the streets and neat graffiti along the way…

I knew exactly what I wanted next, so I wrapped my hands around my coffee trying to keep it nice and warm until I got there…

Took a right on 49th and arrived at the most tasty Doughnut Dolly! Dolly is known for her cream-filled-to-order doughnuts and after waiting in a somewhat long line, I stepped up and ordered one sour cherry jam original (covered with granulated sugar, the other option being powdered) doughnut.

Gourmet doughnuts seem to be taking over where cupcakes are leaving off but I gotta say, there’s just not too much you can do with a doughnut! I like Dolly’s but am also a big fan of Pepple’s and Donut Savant. All 3 are different, all are delicious and I can’t really tell you if I have a favorite!  Guess I gotta keep on trying them… you know, for research… yeah…

Filler & Fillings

Filler & Fillings

One Doughnut Dolly filled doughnut: $3.50

One Doughnut Dolly filled doughnut: $3.50

Took a right on Claremont for my next stop, the Temescal Farmer’s Market!

Farmer’s Market samples (apples, almonds, persimmons, strawberries, grapes, dried cherries, pomegranate seeds, kale chips, granola, etc.): FREE!

Feeling full but wanting to spend my remaining $14 on more tasty treats, I went right over to the Donna’s Tamales and looked over the menu for what felt like forever, so hard to choose just one!  Seems like Donna’s is at every farmer’s market here in the East Bay, so I have had almost every flavor. Love, love, LOVE them!  Donna’s is also carried in local supermarkets like Andronico’s, Whole Foods, Berkeley Bowl but there’s nothing like one that’s hot and fresh-steamed. I ordered the butternut squash as it is one of favorite combinations and looked for a beverage to go along with it…

One of Donna's Tamales: $4.00

One of Donna’s Tamales: $4.00

Usually when I come to this farmer’s market, I get a fruit and veggie juice from Beet Generation but they weren’t there today! I was disappointed but I was looking around for something else super healthy to quench my thirst, the Living Apothecary menu caught my eye:

I tried about 6 different samples, a few of which I wanted to spit out as they were super funky but then settled on a bottle of the flavor I found very mild with a kick, the Red Raspberry Leaf Ginger.  I didn’t dare to try any of the vegan milks but the #4 really intrigues me… next time!

One bottle Living Apothecary Tea Tonic: $5.00

One bottle Living Apothecary Tea Tonic: $5.00

I stopped at one of my usual stops for one of my usual needs: the Feel Good Bakery table for a fresh sourdough baguette.  All of their breads are fantastic and I would have added a few cheese & seed sticks and a couple cinnamon buns in the mix but I promised myself to stick to my budget today!

One baguette: $3.00

One baguette: $3.00

As I walked through the produce stall, I was taken by the sheer beauty of these amazing organic cherry tomatoes! I figured slicing my baguette and dipping it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar would be perfection with some  of these fresh little guys on the side but they were $2.50 a basket and I only had $2.00 left.  I walked up to the front and promised to come back next weekend and buy more to make up for the $0.50 but the lady was so nice, she said, “No problem!” with a big smile. I happily thanked her and toting my bag of Temescal treasures, I walked back home enjoying the beautiful day and more mosaic garbage cans.

One pint cherry tomatoes: $2.00

One pint cherry tomatoes: $2.00

Have you explored the sundry food choices here in Temescal? What are your favorites?

Be a Burger

24 Jul

I was wasting time on Pinterest today and came across this hamburger dress picture and was STUNNED!  How neat is this thing???  Did a little more digging on Ol’ Reliable (aka the Internet) and learned that this dress was hand-made in 2005 by made- crocheted and sewn- by Joy Kampia.

I need this for Halloween.

So I can either buy it for $860 or learn to crochet prolifically but I don’t think I can get  away with either of those options… luckily, Ol’ Reliable and I found step-by-step instructions to make this:

And I think I can handle that! Done!

I also found this via Google and wow, wow, wow:

And here I thought I was super dedicated to hamburgers!  That’s seriously one amazing make-up job right there!  How did they do those crazy green eyelashes and even get the grill marks to sit so perfectly?! Crazy.

FRENCH FRY NAILS, people!!!!  It’s really astounding the things you can find on the Internet. I found a tutorial for this too and I can probably pull this off too or even take the tutorial into my local nail place ask them to do it. Yeah. Much better idea!

So I’ve got the dress, the nails, but really what costume is complete without a few themed accessories?

Yes, that’s me and yes that’s a hamburger hat.

Halloween costume decision done!  WOO HOO!  And it’s July so I’ve got plenty of time to work on it- I’ll be sure to keep you posted…

Burger Review: Doc’s of the Bay

18 Jul

Since reviving this blog, I’ve gotten lots of invites from friends to grab a burger sometime and was happy to get just such an invite upon returning from vacation to try Doc’s of the Bay. I hadn’t heard of Doc’s before but as I am currently obsessed with any and everything food truck related, we made plans for lunch today.

Doc’s truck makes appearances throughout San Francisco, Oakland, and here in Emeryville at Doyle Hollis Park, which is just minutes from my house. With the kids out of school for summer break, I was ecstatic to learn that Doc’s stops at that park every Thursday- burger for me, play structure for the kids, good times all around!

As you can see, Doc”s of the Bay has a very straightforward menu- 3 sandwich options (the classic burger, the black bean vegetarian burger and a fried chicken sandwich) and for sides, spiced fries or green beans or a combo of both (called the Double Whammy).

While I was very tempted to try the black bean burger, I decided on their classic instead- a 5 ounce Black Angus patty with American cheese between a challah bun with a Double Whammy on the side.

As I waited patiently, the line got longer and longer and in just a few minutes, they called my name and I stepped up to claim my Doc’s lunch.

Absolutely DELICIOUS! The meat was incredibly moist and juicy and very lightly seasoned, layered with the house’s secret sauce, pickles, hothouse tomatoes and crisp butter lettuce.  The challah bun was probably the fluffiest bun I’ve ever had in my life. I took forever to eat this burger as I wanted to savor each bite- every bit of that burger is sourced locally here in the Bay Area and definitely added to Doc’s absolutely mouth-watering and scrumptious Classic Burger.

And oh those fries and green beans! SO yummy and very well-seasoned with what Doc’s calls their “proprietary Potlatch seasoning” served with their own house-made extra special red bell pepper and tomato ketchup, made fresh weekly without corn syrup. Tasting this “real” ketchup was like tasting ketchup for the very first time- Heinz has NOTHING on Doc’s! Doc’s ketchup is bright and super savory- customers love the ketchup so much, Doc’s decided to bottle and sell it. Of course I came home with a bottle too!

While I was waiting for my burger, Doc’s owner, Zak Silverman, introduced himself to me and asked if I would be so kind as to vote for Doc’s to help get them into the San Francisco Street Food Festival and of course I said I would and YOU CAN TOO!  Check out the website here and vote for Doc’s (listed in alphabetical order)- currently, Doc’s is tied for 4th but let’s help get them to #1!

I’m giving Doc’s of the Bay 4.5 out of 5 because I absolutely adore the green bean and fry combo, their ketchup is unparalleled, and their burger was a perfect balance of meat to bun to fresh veggies. I will certainly be back to try the black bean burger and fried chicken sandwich- check out their website, track them down, and let me know what you think!

Pretty Pinecrest Patties

16 Jul

I just returned from 3 blissful weeks at our family cabin in Pinecrest and I am happy to say that I accomplished my goal of eating as many burgers as possible. If you’re on vacation with a cold beer in hand and a hot grill on deck,  a burger is really and truly the most delicious and efficient way to go!  Okay, I’m completely and totally biased, I admit it, but nevertheless, in 21 days I made a point to eat burgers from each of the following 5 categories…

#1: The Homemade Burger

I believe it is my constitutional right to pursue the happiness derived from crafting The Perfect Homemade Burger and while on vacation, I made burgers at least 5 times and rarely deviate from my personal recipe. I chose grass fed beef- or the best I can find- from the store and when forming the patties, I use a very light touch, making sure that the meat stays somewhat loose in order to optimize juiciness.  The tighter the patty, the more likely it will be dry and dense.

Hubby claims that mixing a raw egg into the beef keeps the patties from breaking apart and bloating on the grill but I disagree- all you need to do is put a small thumb-print sized indentation in the middle of the patty prior to cooking. When the burger cooks, the meat contracts, so that divet in the middle catches the juice and keeps the patties flat. Problem solved. Fry the egg and put it on top of your burger if you must! That’s yummy too!

When cooking a burger on the grill, I keep the lid open and cook for 3-5 minutes a side (depending on the size of the patty) and then turn off the heat and close the lid, letting the burger rest for another 3-5 minutes, producing a perfectly grayish-pink medium temperature.  On the stove, I am a fan of using a large cast iron skillet.  I heat the skillet up and quickly put a good sear on each side, resulting in a dark brown crust that locks in the juices, then reducing the heat and cooking 3-5 minutes more per side.

My way is the best way, of course, but then there’s…

#2: The Buddy Burger

Buddy: “You guys want to stay for dinner tonight?”

Me: “No thanks, I’m really tired and want to get the kids to bed early tonight. Some other time though!”

Buddy: “We’re making burgers. With bacon.”

Me: “Yes. Yes, we’ll stay.”

My friends have easily learned that I just cannot refuse a burger- especially if someone is making it for me! Everyone has different techniques to patty prep and grilling and I always enjoy watching how my friends make their burgers- I ask questions, take pictures, and stand by drooling. My favorite food with my favorite people at my favorite vacation spot and everything is right with the world!

#3: Steam Donkey Burgers

We are lucky enough to have a restaurant called The Steam Donkey within walking distance of our cabin and on those days when it’s just way too hot to cook, I’ll head on over to the Donkey for a burger and beer.  During this trip, I went only twice. I considered ordering a salad but my instincts took over and both times had a burger. I told myself that I would give their other protein options a try this time, but I didn’t. I’m on vacation, after all- why waste my time on a stinking turkey or veggie burger?! Go ahead, bring the beef and pile on that bacon and cheese while you’re at it!

The Steam Donkey burgers are pretty decent, can’t complain, fries are good too. I believe everything is from frozen so for $10 it’s a bit of a stretch but it will certainly do on those days where laziness takes over.

#4: The Beach Burger

Pinecrest Lake is beautiful and there are 3 main beaches that are very clean- my kids love swimming and playing in the sand while I relax, work on my tan and read. At the most popular beach, beach #1, there is a food shack that serves up burgers, fries, hot dogs, chicken fingers, ice cream and all the other assorted picnic fare. You order and pay at one window then wait to pick up at another and as there is not seating at the shack, you just head back to your blanket and chow down while taking in the baby blue of the sky and deep green of the trees. Sitting at a table is great and all but, to me, on-the-beach is one of The Best ways to enjoy a burger.

For $5 the beach burger is really a good deal! It is huge and the sesame seed bun is fresh and soft. Honestly, I rather prefer the beach burger to the Steam Donkey burger as the meat seems very fresh and the portion is larger. Fries are an additional $3 and they are all kinds of crispy, salted goodness. They also offer a veggie burger option but, as you may have already guessed, I have not (and probably will not) try it- that flame-grilled beef is just way too tasty to pass up!

#5: The Back-Up Burger

WhiteCastle

I’m such a burger addict that I really need to have a back-up burger just in case, so when all else fails, I reach for the frozen White Castle cheeseburgers and, I must admit, they aren’t that great- one minute in the microwave and you’ve got a couple steamy, soggy, wrinkly sliders! I’ve never been to a real brick-and-mortar White Castle but I would hope that the restaurant version is much better than this frozen version and hope to try them someday.

While the frozen White Castle burgers may not be up to my very high standards, I still always have a box of these in the freezer for those moments of burger desperation as they are the best I have found so far. I’m still on the hunt for other back-up burger options so if you know of any, please shoot your recommendations my way!

So that’s my trip in a bun- I’m back in Oakland and I am happily reading that several new burger spots have opened up so stay tuned for more reviews, Hamburger Blogger Buddies, and Happy Summer!!!

P.S. Did anyone get my title reference???

Burger Review: Mooyah

20 Jun

If you read my other blog or know me in real life, you know I injured my stupid foot running. As I enjoy running a great deal, having an injury is a super bummer for me and as a result, not only have I been forced to lay around and rest (which means I have more time to blog!) but have also earned the right to eat my feelings via a big, fat, juicy hamburger. YES.

So after one whole year, The Hamburger Blogger is finally back and up first is a review of my lunch yesterday at Mooyah in Walnut Creek.

I had seen Mooyah before and always wanted to try it and yesterday was my first time. My children and I arrived just a bit before noon and it was already pretty packed- with a gorgeous day, outdoor seating, and the smell of fresh french fries wafting through the air, we stepped in and began to decipher their huge, step-by-step menu.

As I was trying to decide what to order all 3 of us, I noticed a tiny table at the front of the restaurant with red pens and forms- here at Mooyah, you take a form, fill out your order (whether it is for here or to go), hand to the cashier and the only words they have to exchange with you is, “That will be $20.32 please.” Pretty efficient!

I chose a 1/2 pound, 2 patty Mooyah burger (I’m upset about my injury, I totally deserve 8 ounces of deliciousness, okay?!) on a whole wheat bun (see, I can be “healthy” too), Mooyah style with grilled mushrooms, took my number and waited, tummy growling…

As I had my kids with me (6 and 7 years old) I was so happy to see that they had a huge chalk board wall and coloring pages to entertain them with!  My kids happily drew and colored until our order was ready.

Happy Campers make for Tastier Burgers

Happy Campers make for Tastier Burgers

Got our order, laid it all out, squirted ketchup, and dug in and YUM, so good!

Note to self: take the *good* camera next time!

Note to self: take the *good* camera next time!

Made of 100% lean American beef, the meat is tasty and very juicy, very basically seasoned which I appreciate. While I appreciate and enjoy a unique flavor, I also really like it when the meat is just pure- you really get to taste beef and nothing else! The bun was soft and delicious- Mooyah claims to respect the bun-to-meat ratio and I can attest that they do.

The cheese was very melty and the onions, instead of cut as circles, were diced and that was a little weird as toward the end of my meal, all the veggies were falling out all over the place.  The fries were decent and fresh, not frozen.

Mooyah seems to ride that line between fast food and high quality as they offer mushrooms, grilled onions, sweet potato fries, blue cheese and it is perfect- and perfectly priced- for just that! Take the kids and have a good meal! You can also like their page on Facebook and get a coupon for a free burger at your next visit!  I will definitely do that and will definitely be back- Moo-YUM!!!

I’m giving Mooyah 4 out of 5 stars because I really like the customization of all the burger options, the efficiency of the ordering and the fact that my kids were totally entertained.  Check out Mooyah online to find a location near you and enjoy!

26 May

Laura:

Great post from one of my fave food bloggers, Rufus- I like the way you think, my virtual friend! :)

Originally posted on Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide:

With Memorial Day fast approaching we posit the question: Is there anything more American than the burger?

Actually, I’m Australian.

I’m All-American though

We really don’t want an answer, mind you. We used posit in that first sentence, so we automatically win. But you can have the consolation prize: Some burger ideas for Monday.

Bison Burgers on Texas Toast

Holy bison batman these are tasty

Portabello Burgers

oh cheesy

Burgers with sun-dried tomato paste, goat cheese and herbs

It needs some fries

Venison Burgers with Roasted Red Bell Pepper

Yes that is an extra large kosher dill there

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