After a couple days of nice meals in Philadelphia, we decided to step it down a little and have more of a fun and laid back evening where we could thank our demo team for all of their hard work this week. And what better way to have a fun and laid back evening than to go out for burgers and fries? Of course, it couldn’t be just your run of the mill hamburger, but rather burgers, Iron Chef style. So, being the persuasive guy that I am, I talked everyone into going out a little bit later, leaving the hotel, and going to Bobby’s Burger Palace. I had a little help in selling the fact that it was a Bobby Flay restaurant (and that was probably the one point that convinced everyone to give it a shot).
When you think about a Bobby Flay restaurant, you don’t necessarily think casual dining. You think white tablecloths and basic food done amazingly well. You think southwestern ingredients. You think sauces. Well, at least that’s what I think about. But when we walked in, you didn’t see any of that. In fact, when you walk in, you see the black ropes guiding you to a counter where you order your burger. It’s at this point that you remember Bobby Flay is also the guy on the Food Network with the grill.
Bobby’s Burger Palace in Philadelphia is located right next door to a Chipotle. Hardly the type of location you would expect for the restaurant of an Iron Chef (especially considering Iron Chefs Jose Garces and Masaharu Morimoto have restaurants on Chestnut near the convention center). However, when you realize the right across the street is the University of Pennsylvania, you begin to realize the genius behind the location. The inside could be any trendy burger joint in any big city. It’s brightly lit with modern prints of the various ingredients that will be turned into delicious burgers. The menu is posted on the wall and isn’t overly complicated. There are about 10 burger combinations, a few non-burgers, some fries and some drinks. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis, and luckily we were able to find 8 seats all together.
Everyone made their way through the line, and pretty much everyone ordered a burger, fries and drink (we had one grilled cheese and one onion ring deviation). For me, I decided on the Bobby Blue Burger Crunchified, Sweet Potato Fries, and a Yuengling. The burger is a simple patty which I ordered medium, with blue cheese and bacon, and topped with potato chips (hence crunchified). We took our seat, and just started having a good time. We were relaxed and talking as drinks arrived first, followed by fries. The sweet potato fries were delicious, a slight crisp on the outside, and soft and flavorful on the inside. They also came with a nice sweet honey mustard horseradish sauce that was a nice accompaniment with just a little kick at the end. The regular fries were really good too, and came with a “BBP Fry Sauce” that was definitely a little spicy. In fact, it worked really well with the sweet potato fries as it added a little spice to go with a little sweet and made a nice combination. There were also other sauces to try with the fries like a Jalepeno Sauce, a Chipotle Ketchup and a Burger Sauce. I was constantly mixing and matching fries and sauces, finally settling on my favorite which was the sweet potato fries with the honey mustard sauce (gee all of this writing, and I’m just on the fries!).
While we were enjoying our fries, the burgers started showing up. Every single one of them looked delicious. In fact one of the guys, Charles, got the same thing non-crunchified. His burger showed up before mine, and after one bite he looked at me and said that I was going to love it. So, I was definitely excited when my burger showed up in front of me. I pulled the skewer out of the middle, squished the burger down, and took a nice big bite. Now, anyone that has read any of my previous posts knows that
there are two things that I usually complain about with burgers; first when the toppings override the flavor of the burger, and second when the burger isn’t cooked well. Neither of these was the case with this burger. Even though it had blue cheese and bacon, the burger shined. It was a simple, thick and flavorful burger; not overly done up or seasoned. And it was cooked perfectly pink in the middle with juices soaking into the bun as soon as I bit into it. It was quite simply a great hamburger.
After the burgers, we just settled in for a few more drinks and conversation. A couple of the demo guys opted for the neon pink Frozen Cactus Pear Margaritas (which they swear were delicious), while the rest of us chose beer. At one point, Charles decided to order a milkshake. But it wasn’t just any shake, it was a vanilla, caramel, bourbon milkshake. And it was sinfully delicious. Fresh vanilla, a bit of caramel running through and enough bourbon to just taste it, but probably so much that a couple of those would make you happy for a couple of reasons.
As we were walking out at the end of the night, everyone was satisfied, and definitely said that it was worth the trip. The burgers and fries were excellent, and it’s not everyday that you get a meal designed by an Iron Chef for less than $15 (including the beer). If this was in Seattle, Bobby’s Burger Palace would be my top under $10 hamburger. As it is, it continued my run of great meals on this trip. And, my colleagues gained a little bit of confidence in my ability to pick restaurants.