Archive for June, 2008

Burger King Announces $200 burger, 200 More Reasons To Regret Eating British Food

June 30, 2008 Leave a comment

The Burger

I know I’m late to the party on this one, but Burger King in the UK has announced a nearly $200 burger.  “The Burger” is only available once a week at Burger King’s West London location.  If you can get past the idea of spending $200 to eat in a Burger King, “The Burger” is flame grilled Wagyu beef, topped with Pata Negra ham and white truffles, served on a white truffle flour bun dusted with Iranian saffron.  Condiments include Cristal onion straws, balsamic vinegar from Modena, lambs lettuce, pink Himalayan rock salt, and organic white wine and shallot infused mayonnaise.   The only question I have is which kind of magic marker they use to add the grill marks.

“The Burger” represents one unfortunate dining trend, the gratuitous upscaling of common foods.  I’ll pay extra for good quality, local beef in a burger.  I can realize the benefits of a good bun.  Bacon is always a welcome addition, even if I pay a few bucks for it.  All those things make a difference, but at some point, the value of the difference diminishes when talking about individual components – can you taste the difference between good bacon and really good bacon when it’s covered in ketchup and mayonnaise?  But more to the point, is Wagyu beef prepared by Burger King’s grill jockey going to taste that much better?


Categories: Uncategorized

Product Review: Vosges d’Oliva Candy Bar

June 17, 2008 1 comment

Who thinks of these things?

I received the Vosges Haut Chocolate d’Oliva bar as a Father’s Day gift.  I should have taken heed of my wife’s warning when she said it seemed like a good idea until she got to the car, but decided to bring it home anyway.  At first glance and sniff, it seems like an ordinary white chocolate bar.  Taste is another matter entirely.  

The white chocolate is buttery and rich without being overly sweet, but it still requires a sweet tooth that is more advanced than mine.  The difficulty factor comes when you get your first briny bits of olive.  Conceptually, the olive should provide some salt to counteract the sweetness of the white chocolate, but it just doesn’t work.  The saltiness of the brine is overshadowed by the familiar kalamata flavor, which does not mesh well with the white chocolate.  It’s not necessarily unpleasant, just not all that good. 

For the record, let me state that I am a proponent of including savory flavors in desserts. I am a fan of other unusual Vosges Haut Chocolate products, like Mo’s Bacon Bar.  I like my hot chocolate a little spicy and my chocolate bars dark and bittersweet.  I am not afraid of offbeat food combinations, as long as they taste good.  Unfortunately, this unusual bar is a miss – the flavors don’t work well together.

Categories: Product Reviews

Stunt Eater Review: Beer Run, Charlottesville, VA

June 17, 2008 1 comment

As a longtime Charlottesville resident, I’ve been to most every restaurant in town, several times over.  Certain restaurants receive regular visits, whether through their quality, reliability, or price.  So, when a new restaurant opens, there is a mix of excitement and a risk that you’ll waste a precious free night on a less than memorable meal.  For this reason, I am typically not on the bleeding edge of diners – if given a choice between a sure thing and a potential hit or miss, I’ll usually choose the sure thing.  It takes a lot for me to forsake the places I know and like for a new one, so I’ll rely on the opinions of friends and fellow eaters to decide whether a place warrants a visit.

Beer Run was one of those places.  I’d visited several times to buy beer in the retail store, which I’d highly recommend (more on this later).  The seating area always seemed full and the lure of cold, delicious beer on tap was hard to resist.  The clincher, however, was when a friend declared their burger to be the best she had ever eaten.  The wife and I got a babysitter and set a date last week. 

The Dining Experience: 5/10

The dining experience leaves a little bit to be desired, parking is difficult if the area is crowded, and the inside tables are close together.  The restaurant entrance is the same as the retail store, so heavy traffic in the shop may impact your dining experience.  There is very little room inside for larger parties, which may be a consideration for other diners.

The Food: 6/10

Per our friends’ recommendation, we each ordered the organic buffalo burger, medium rare.  I ordered a Hefeweizen and she ordered a white wine, which tasted like toothpaste until I reminded her that she had brushed her teeth before we left.  In the end, we like the the white so much we left with a bottle – one of the benefits of the on-site retail store. 

I am disappointed to say that the burger did not live up to expectations.  It arrived, served on a pretzel bun, with potato salad.  The pretzel bun is an underutilized burger accessory – it provides good juice absorbtion properties, nice structure, and a different taste.  Although I am not necessarily a fan of the ranchification of the American restaurant menu, the ranch dressing provided for the burger was a nice complement to the burger and bun, although a little bit thin to apply.  Roma tomatoes on a burger are, for the most part, a big disappointment.  The minor flavor boost provides little in exchange for the structural deficiencies that result from their inclusion.   The organic cheddar on the burger provided a sharp contrast to the burger and was a welcome addition.

The most significant miss, however, was an overcooked burger.   With a lean meat such as buffalo, the cooking temperature becomes that much more crucial – anything more than medium, in my opinion, and the buffalo begins to get too dry.  We let our server know about the issue and continued eating, opting to finish our meal and not waste the food we had ordered.  However, for a $12 burger, I expected better.

Dessert, however, made up significant lost ground.  We ordered the Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout and the Guinness Chocolate cake.  The stout was outstanding, with hints of smoke and chocolate coming through.  Overall a beautiful beer and one worth coming back for, especially on draft.  It matched very well with the moist, rich cake. 

The Service:  7/10

No complaints.  Service was accurate, timely, and most importantly, pleasant.  Our server was able to make good recommendations about the wine, beer, and food on the menu.  She passed on the feedback about the burger without attitude.

Overall Verdict: 6/10

Beer Run warrants a cautious trip back.   It has so many positives going for it: delicious beer, mostly organic menu, and in-town location.  In the search for a good burger and a go-to restaurant, however, some misses are hard to swallow.   There is enough on the lunch and breakfast menus to warrant a repeat visit for those meals, and the draft beer alone is enough to put up with an overcooked burger if it were not $12.  At the least, we’ll be back to the retail store to stock up on beer.

Categories: Restaurant Reviews

Latest Innovation: Canned Bacon

June 12, 2008 1 comment

You may be asking yourself, as I did recently, how one would consume bacon during a nuclear holocaust, alpine expedition, or god forbid, a kitchen renovation.  Survivalists, end-timers, and kitchen-lacking bacon lovers, your prayers have finally been answered in the form of canned bacon

This can should have a halo.  A somewhat crispy, somewhat chewy halo.

Categories: Innovations