Burger Days IV
by Burger Days
- Sunday, July 3, 2011
The Black Squirrel (12:15 pm)2427 18th Street Northwest, Washington D.C., DC | (202) 232-1011Our biggest turnout ever for a BD, we were rolling deep when we showed up to kick off the day at The Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan. We were the first people in the joint when we arrived a little past noon and set up shop near the front door.
Right away, we knew this was a spot after our own hearts. In addition to having a fat stack of available burger toppings, the beer list was robust needing its own separate menu. (In one of our rare, wiser moments, we passed on their selection of absinthe. We can’t imagine how the day would have ended up if we kicked it off with the green fairy.)
Sticking to just beer, the crew ordered up a round of burgers with a mix-and-match of fixings. And there was nothing half-assed about these toppings– eight different cheeses, homemade mayo and BBQ sauce, chili and a fried egg were just some of the standouts.
They use Hereford beef at the Squirrel: 100% chuck with a 90-10 lean-to-fat ratio. But this ain’t just any fat; the meat is combined with 8% veal fat and 2% rendered duck fat. The resulting mix produced a mighty juicy patty with a richer, more-complex flavor than most of the burgers we run across. We can see why these guys get burger props.
They also scored major points with the execution of the toppings. While sounding great in print, when they showed up at the table, they were downright gorgeous. The egg was the textbook definition of sunny side up and rivaled the beauties we’ve had at Stoney’s.
Other topping all-stars were the homemade mayo (creamy, rich, goooood), bacon (thick-cut and fatty– just the way we like it), and the Chimay cheese which didn’t look like much but hooked-up a strong, deep and distinct cheesy flavor in every burger bite.
Angles Bar & Billiards (1:50 pm)2339 18th Street Northwest, Washington D.C., DC | (202) 462-8100Denied. The trip after the Squirrel to Angles resulted in us standing outside a locked door. Audible called and it was off to Open City.
Murphy's of D.C. (2:15 pm)2609 24th Street, Northwest, Washington D.C., DC | (202) 462-7171Open City had a line, so we placed our names on the list and shuffled next door to Murphy's for some pre-burger #2 boozers.
Open City (3:15 pm)2331 Calvert Street Northwest, Washington, DC | (202) 332-2331A bright, airy spot, we gotta admit, we were skeptical of this place’s ability to produce a good burger. But after getting our table, we sneaked some peeks at neighboring dishes and spied burgers that looked surprisingly full-of-potential.
Toppings were limited when compared to our previous stop, but Open City’s house burger –served with aged white cheddar and bacon– was right up our alley.
Like the Squirrel, Open City uses Hereford beef, but they opt for a fatter mix of 80-20. Seasoned with just salt and pepper this burger put the beef front-and-center. And it paid off.
While the Squirrel’s burger was much more involved and complex, Open City’s was just the opposite. It tasted like it came fresh off the back yard grill. With a solid, heavy char, the beef was all up in your face. It was delicious. The orders were right on the money too– the rare coming with a beautifully brown grill-marked and crispy outside and a pink inside just bursting with beefiness.
And while the beef was undoubtedly the star of the burger, two other components complimented the main attraction perfectly. The bun was spot-on for this type of burger. No fancy, brioche number here, they use a simple squishy, sesame-seeded potato bun. The slightly-charred number soaked up the burger juices and held up through it all.
Rivaling the bun for best supporting star was the bacon– it was some serious pork goodness. Just about every member of the crew remarked about the potent, smoky strips of pig candy. “It’s thick, double smoked and definitely something we are proud of,” Open City chef Courtney Parks told us. If we could hook up bacon like that, we’d be proud of it too.
Asylum (4:45 pm)2471 18th Street Northwest, Washington D.C., DC | (202) 319-9353We left Open City and still had about 20 minutes to kill before the other joints on our list opened at 5 p.m. so naturally it was booze-o-o’clock once again. We ducked outta the heat into the bottom bar at Asylum, and –long story short– two-and-half hours, a beer-bong, a handle of Jameson, countless star-spangled Bud tall boys, various pints, 15 games of naked Photo Hunt and one Donnie Dark piñata later, we stumbled out of the bar onto 18th street once again.
Reef (7:30 pm)2446 18th Street Northwest, Washington D.C., DC | (202) 518-3800After Asylum, we crossed the street and hit up The Reef for our third, and sadly last, burger of the day.
If you’re a veteran of these pages, you know we consider any four-legged animal game for Burger Days. However, when we were met with only a bison burger option at The Reef, we should of taken it as a sign.
We’ve got nothing against buffalo, in fact, Dances With Wolves is one of our favorite flicks, but the burgers we got here were not very good.
The menu’s description sounded decent enough, if a little plain: an 8 oz. bison burger with tomato, mixed greens and onion on brioche. Wanting a little more going on, a couple of us added bacon and a fried egg to the deal, but neither did any to help the cause.
The rare ordered burger we got was cooked medium at best and the patty was too dry. We were hoping the egg would bring some flavor and juiciness to the mix but it was fried to a hard yolk so that was outta the question. We don’t make a habit of it, but we sent back the overdone burger; unfortunately, the replacement was done just about the same way.
There was a bright side to our visit to The Reef, however. The fries that came alongside our over-done buffalo were insanely good. It may have been the booze, but, personally, they were some of the best fries I’ve ever eaten.
1905 Restaurant (9:45 pm)1905 9th Street Northwest, Washington D.C., DC | (202) 332-1905Desperate for a sure-thing after The Reef debacle, we set off for 1905 in the U Street corridor but were met with a locked door– closed on Sundays.
Policy (10:15 pm)1904 14th Street Northwest, Washington D.C., DC | (202) 387-7654We were holding out hope that Policy, which hosted a burger bash that same day, would still serve up the goods. But by the time we got to the joint, there was nothing but booze and a packed dance floor waiting for us– we took full advantage of both, however.
- total distance: 3 miles (5 km)