Burger Joint, San Francisco, CA (SOMA Location)

Posted: October 27, 2012 in B^4
Tags: , , ,

Burger Joint

Burger Joint

I should’ve posted some of these reviews months ago, but I’ve been lazy. So in my attempt to blog more about food in 2013, I will throw in some older unposted entries from 2012. More burger love (or hate) for all.

Admittedly, I hadn’t done my research ahead of time. My friend and I were looking for a place to watch Game 3 of the 2012 World Series (which took place in Detroit). Headed to a party later in the evening, we didn’t particularly need to eat at a pub either. I’d heard of this place before, so when I saw open seats at a burger joint (literally, a Burger Joint), with the game just getting underway, I made the suggestion, and in we went.

Burger Joint is an order-at-the-counter establishment, so I was excited to see there was no line to grab a burger (unlike every other TV-sporting restaurant on King St).

The menu seemed pretty generic at first glance, though I appreciated the fact they serve some microbrews (I did not think to catch what was offered at the time – again, I was preparing my liver for some seriously Halloween partying later that evening).

I opted for a cheeseburger with pepper jack and fries. $9.45 before tax…OK, seems fair…especially because they’re quick on advertising Niman Ranch beef on family-owned, sustainable farms. This should be good, right?

Now it’s rare that I don’t Yelp a place before going to it, but this night called for a TV and a place to sit quickly. After we were seated I Yelped the place and my heart skipped a beat. But so as not to bias myself any further, I read no reviews…

As we were waiting for our food, I noticed that nobody was getting kicked out after they’d finished their meal to make way for other hungry baseball fans. I thought it was cool they didn’t rush people, but then I realized…hey, there’s nobody waiting for tables. Why does every other restaurant on King Street [with a TV] have a line out the door? At this point my expectations were not what they’d been when I had the idea to eat here.

Our food was served reasonably quickly. Sadly, I’ve eaten enough burgers that I knew approximately what this one was going to taste like without even taking a bite. I know an underseasoned thin diner patty when I see one. It was much smaller than I expected, and brought the word “flaccid” to mind. It was quite bland – I had to use a lot of hot sauce to make up for the lack of beef flavor. That’s a little trick I do with bland burgers (blandness is not a prereq, but use caution with a tasty-as-is burger): load them up with hot sauce, and you get this combination of spicy and fatty that’s overloads your taste buds. Goes GREAT with a hoppy beer.

In short, the meal was oddly identical to extremely average roadside diner food you’d find off an Interstate in anywhere, USA. A very clean diner, with friendly service, and Giants games on the TV.

But hey hold on, brain, I wasn’t done ranting about my dinner yet. This isn’t a one paragraph Yelp review – I was just about to give a little lecture on burger-making 101.

Let’s go B^4ck to Basics:

If you’re going to make a burger patty, add some salt. Salt is your friend. I promise. A little bit of salt won’t make your dish too…salty (what’s a good synonym for salty? NaCL-y?). Rather, a bit of salt will enhance the flavors of a dish – in this case, it will accentuate the meatiness and richness of your burger patty. And don’t forget salt’s bff pepper is a nice compliment, too…

So at this point you’ve probably figured out this isn’t a terribly positive review. Well, you’re right. But what exactly was holding this burger back from greatness?

The prognosis: FPS (Frozen Patty Syndrome) –

– Underseasoned patty

– Perfectly flat and unusually symmetrical patty

– Lack of char and loose edges – the lack of these welcomed imperfections set off the flat/symmetrical observations, and then the alarm bells go off.

– Lack of texture – there’s no interplay between fatty, melt-in-your-mouth divinity and lean meat heartiness. Instead, it’s reminiscent of an untextured flattened blob.

But even a prefrozen patty tastes better with some salt added on top. Seriously, it’s that basic.

And if these actually are fresh patties, which one would think they are, then I’m at a loss for words – I’ve had Niman Ranch beef hundreds of times, and it has NEVER been this tasteless and textureless. I don’t think Niman Ranch was having an off day. Frozen or not, something’s gotta change…

At this point I think you get the idea about the burger. So onto the fries.

You’ll note that there is a huge white space on the plate. I’ll take some responsibility in admitting that I had some fries before I remembered to take a picture; that said, you’re looking at a good 3/4 of the fries right there, so form your own opinion while I tell you mine: at least the fries had been salted. My suspicion is that they are prefrozen too, but I don’t feel quite as strongly about this fact (and you can usually get away with passable prefrozen fries, anyway).

I read some Yelp reviews after dinner, too. Yeah…whoops. But hey, we got edible food and a good seat to watch the entire Giants game on TV, and never felt pressured to leave. So there’s that.

And in the end, the Giants shut out the Tigers in game 3 (WS champs again!!!!). There was then an amazing Halloween party full of debauchery which isn’t really relevant to this blog, so the verdict: on this Saturday night, everything except dinner rocked.

The Last Bite:

Burger Rating: C

Overall Experience (sides, service, cleanliness, price, etc.): C+

Keep on nomming!

Side note: The initials bj in lower case letters really never ever work. Everybody has a 12 year old inside of them; everyone, except the owners of Burger Joint, apparently.


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