Death by Cheeseburger VII – Best Burger in NY State

Daniel B., Albany’s Yelp Ambassador, was gracious enough to invite me to participate in a burger tasting. He knows I’m a big fan of the form, and I’d enjoy judging a few burgers. Initially, I was a bit hesitant, but ultimately decided I’d do it, and I’m glad I did. It was a blast. There were four judges in total, and besides Daniel and me, Josh D. the Syracuse Yelp Ambassador, and Yelp Elite Thomas C. also took part in the fun.

But this was no ordinary burger tasting; we’d be judging the “Best Burger in New York” contest, run by the NY Beef Council. It’s a contest they do every year, and the goal is to highlight local beef producers and the businesses that sell their product. That’s great, and a noble cause in my opinion.

The restaurants all happened to be in Central NY, between Utica, and Syracuse, which meant a long day, with lots of driving. Daniel picked me up at 9:30 am, and we didn’t get home until 11 that night (after a little side trip to Utica for pizza). It was indeed a lot of driving and of course, a lot of eating.

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Bad Chain Restaurants XI – Cloning the Big Mac

Is there any burger joint more American than McDonald’s? Is there any restaurant more American than McDonald’s? No way, I say. McDonald’s is the very definition of Americana in my mind. And is there any American who hasn’t eaten at least once at McDonald’s? Perhaps, but I have no doubt they’re a small minority.

A few days ago, I received a phone call from The Profussor, a.k.a., Daniel Berman, proprietor of FUSSYlittleBLOG. It was related to a Yelp event I was hosting, but after dealing with that business, he asked me if I’d be interested in relieving him of a partially used bottle of McDonald’s Big Mac Special Sauce. An official, limited edition, numbered bottle of Big Mac Special Sauce.

Heck yes, I would!
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Manhattan Copycats

I’m slowly becoming more and more enamored with simple foods. And I’ve discovered simple foods generally are created on a triune foundation. Three components that come together to make delicious magic. I want to elaborate on this more at some point and hope to write a full post about it in the future.

I found myself with the opportunity to spend a full day in Manhattan,  and I decided while I was there I would eat a couple of copycat items that are attempting to elevate themselves above their inspiration. I found a restaurant that’s making copycat Five Guys burgers, and one that’s making a copycat Chik-Fil-A sandwich.

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Death by Cheeseburger V – The Jon in Albany Burger

Back in April of last year, I tagged along with Daniel B. of FUSSYlittleBLOG fame on the Tour de Soft Serve. I had a great time, but I previously wrote about it in my Soft Serve Sucks post, so I won’t rehash the event here.

Jon in Albany also joined in on the fun, and I had the pleasure of meeting him, and during one stop on the tour, I had a fairly long conversation with him. We talked about a lot of different things, mostly food obviously, but he also mentioned that his family has a farm where they raise cows, and they occasionally slaughter one and split up the meat among the family. He mentioned he gets quite a bit of ground beef from it. The subject of my love of burgers must’ve come up, because he promised he’d give me some of his ground beef.

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Death by Bad Chain Cheeseburger II – I’ll Gladly Pay You Tuesday for a Hamburger Today

So I find myself in Crossgates, just after Christmas, dealing with the crowds and with a hungry 8 year old in tow. This kid is in love with Dave & Buster’s. Playing the games there is one of her favorite treats. We don’t take her often, mainly because of the expense. One can easily spend a small fortune in a very short time on the games there. Those guys have a racket going for sure. And they prey on suckers like me, who attempt to score points with his little girl from time to time by lavishing her with enough game time, to earn enough tickets to bring home a large-ish stuffed animal. An afternoon at Dave & Buster’s will usually elicit a “You’re the best Dad ever!” from the mouth of that beautiful little girl, and what Dad can resist that?

This is a ritual now that we’ve created. Little girl and I eat lunch at Dave & Buster’s, then we hit the game room. But with most kids still on Christmas vacation, the joint was packed, and there was a long line of families waiting for tables. So off through the mall we head in search of a not-so-packed restaurant in hopes of eating lunch before it turns into dinner.

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Death by Cheeseburger IV – Two Grass Fed Burgers and a Patty Melt Walk into a Bar

I’m not in love with grass fed beef. This is heresy in the foodie world. But I’ve yet to become fanatical about grass fed beef, while at the same time, not being ignorant of why it’s preferable over grain fed.

As grass fed beef becomes more prevalent, and I eat it more, I’m starting to like it more. It has an earthier, deeper flavor than conventional beef, which has taken me time to appreciate. My opinion may change in the future, and likely it will, but for now, it still doesn’t factor into my decisions when choosing what and where to eat. I’m still a bit apathetic toward grass fed beef. And me being frugal, its higher price sometimes causes my wallet to revolt.

Whole Foods has added burgers to the menu of their in-store restaurant. Being Whole Foods, the beef they use is grass fed, and they also claim it’s humanely raised. The feel good is there. But is the taste good there? Only for the strict purposes of science mind you, I intended to find out.

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Death by Bad Chain Cheeseburger – Crapplebee’s

I started doing a series of burger posts back in late August titled Death by Cheeseburger. I needed to take a break, because, as much as I love burgers, they are incredibly unhealthy and I don’t want to die just yet.

I also have been doing a series of posts titled Bad Chains, where I eat at a bottom of the barrel chain restaurant and write down my thoughts about the experience.

Those especially are a lot of fun. As much as I want to keep the content on the blog positive, (excusing a rant or two) sometimes I really enjoy reveling in just how bad the food at some of these chains are. I know, it’s weird, but I’m fascinated not only by food, but by food culture in general, both good and bad.

Applebee’s has launched a new burger menu. I haven’t seen any since, but during the summer, Applebee’s flooded TV with commercials about their new burgers. Applebee’s has been on my crap list for some time, as the food there is not good. They are ubiquitous though, and according to Wikipedia they have more than 2,000 restaurants in the US. So it’s likely most everyone has eaten there at least once.

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Death by Cheeseburger II – Craving a Juicy Burger from Bun & Bean

In my last post I wrote down my preferences and biases of what I think makes a great burger. If you haven’t read it, you should read it before reading this post, to put this post in better context.

Today, I want to share 3 local burger joints I’ve eaten at recently and share my thoughts about how they stack up against my ideal burger.

In order from what I liked least to what I liked best.
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