Sunday, June 3, 2012

Top o' the Mornin' to you!

I'm a huge, lazy bum.  I wrote this a few months ago, but never got around to posting it because...well, I'm a huge lazy bum.  Enjoy!

Now this blog is about burgers around fabulous Denver, but I happened to be in sunny Gainesville this particular weekend.  I left my house, complete with eight inches of snow, at about 4 AM for my flight out of DIA.  The roads were okay, but the drivers were being overly cautious.  If it's 4 AM and you're maneuvering around in the snow, you'd better know what the heck you're doing.  The plows haven't gotten to everything at this point, so you're going to have to muster up some courage and drive your car.  After passing a few dozen cars, I finally arrived at the Pike's Peak lot.  My flight was still scheduled to leave on time, but half of the remaining of the flights were flat out cancelled.

My flight didn't leave on time, but it left early enough for me to catch my connection in Atlanta.  Friday evening was spent at a local brewery here in Gainesville called Swamp Head.  They had some decent beer, but I'm definitely a Colorado beer snob at this point.  We have such good beer through liquor stores and small breweries that it's just plain hard to compare.  I did have fun though and really enjoyed the brewery.

Sunday afternoon, Liz had some classmates come over for a study session, and the plan was to hit up Big Lou's for some pizza.  Lou, however, wasn't in on the plan and didn't open until 2PM.  So, we kept walking down Main Street until we hit The Top, a fun, hippy-filled bar.  Going to school in Boulder, I've experienced my fair share of hippies, and I've learned a few things.  G Love, dreadlocks, and non-Starbucks coffee is about 1000% cooler in college.  The instant you move out of <insert college town here>, you'll delete your bad college music from your iPod, get a haircut, and start ordering coffee from one of the seventeen Starbucks locations within a square mile of your square job.

Waitaminute, I was supposed to write about burgers.  Brunch was on at The Top for a few hours, but on the backside of the breakfast menu was a list of burgers.  I was in the mood for a burger, but I didn't really have much of a breakfast earlier.  After scanning the list of burgers, I found my solution in the Good Morning burger.  It bridged the gap nicely taking care of breakfast staples with a fried egg and bacon, yet hit lunch notes with beef and cheddar.  All of their burgers come with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles as well.  After this burger, I've started to sour on that.  Pickles, though I love them, have no business on a burger with an egg.  The onions didn't make the cut either, and I was iffy on the tomato and lettuce, but kept them.  I may be a burger lover, but the people creating the menus are the burger experts.  They're the ones that have designed their top burger prospects, and I feel that they should dictate what accompanies the food.

To recap, I had an angus patty, fried egg, crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato.  All of this came on a pretzel bun.  Yeah, a pretzel bun.  Sounds kinda weird, right?  I'm used to salty pretzels when I'm drinking a beer or at a ballgame, but I had never eaten a pretzel bun.  To be honest, the pretzel bun was pretty tasty.  It was firm on the outside, but the inside was soft.  I'd definitely eat another burger on a pretzel bun someday.  The last ingredient, which was not on the menu, was hot sauce.  I always eat my eggs with hot sauce, and the waitress at The Top was happy to oblige.  I didn't drown the burger in Hot Sauce, but I added just enough to give it a kick.

My first bite hit the yolk and made my burger a mess.  It also made my burger really tasty, but combined with the juices of the meat, the yolk ensured that I wasn't high fiving anyone for the next fifteen minutes.  Not that I had anything to high five about, but I like to have the option just in case.  I'm quickly becoming an egg fan outside of breakfast, and this burger was one more vote for the cause.  The creaminess of the yolk was really nice with the bacon and beef.  Honestly, I could take or leave the white part of the egg.  The flavor of an egg white is so delicate that just about anything overpowers it, and the texture was lost as well.  The yolk, however, was fantastic and I'd definitely have an egg on my burger again.

The meat was cooked to slightly over medium, so I don't have any complaints with that.  The outside of the burger, however, was charred quite a bit.  I was actually surprised that the inside could be cooked correctly with the outside bordering on being burnt.  It didn't ruin my burger or anything, but the charring was a bit too much in spots.  The bacon was crispy and delicious.  Two massive strips did a pretty good job covering the majority of the burger.  Looking back, the lettuce and tomato might have been unnecessary.  I'll be looking at the egg burgers in the future to see what toppings are added by most other restaurants, but it seems like the focus needs to be the egg as far as toppings go.

Overall, I'd say this was a pretty good burger.  I was full, happy, and ready for the day.  So, if you're down in Gainesville for a Tebow pilgrimage (let's be honest, there isn't much else going on here), stop by The Top and have a burger!  The clientele will take you back to your college days, and the burger will take your belt out a notch.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Burger Fit for a King

I always have trouble figuring out what to get my dad and father-in-law, Lloyd and Denis, for Christmas. Being a couple of retired guys, they don't really need any stuff. So, the best option for gifts is usually an activity. Luckily, they both like sports, and the Miami Heat came to town a few weeks ago to face off against the hometown Denver Nuggets. With tickets in hand for the late, national game, we needed to grab a bite before heading over to the Pepsi Center. Call it fate or luck, we couldn't get a table for Brooklyn's, the sports bar next to the arena. Instead, Denis suggested Ted's Montana Grill, and I'm pretty happy he did.

After work, I moseyed down to Larimer Square. Just a few blocks from the office, I was there a bit early. The place was packed with leftover happy hour patrons and people out for dinner. It was a good thing we had a reservation or we would have been eating nachos and hot dogs at the stadium. Don't get me wrong. I love nachos, and I've eaten more than a few hot dogs in my day, but I was ready for the next burger blog entry. While I looked at the menu, I decided I needed a tasty beverage to wash down my burger, so I ordered a Buffalo Gold. That was my go-to beer in college, being a student at the University of Colorado.

Ted's is known for their buffalo burgers, and I wasn't about to turn them down. Looking back on it, the first buffalo burger I ever had was with Lloyd one summer in Indiana. Our vacations were often spent in Clarksville which is just north of Louisville, Kentucky. It's pronounced Lou-uh-vul by the way, and any other pronunciation will just make you sound like a dummy. Just pretend you're saying it with a mouthful of burger and you'll get it. Anyways, back to the menu. There were lots of burgers to choose from, and I was having a tough time deciding between the Avalon and the Peppercorn. If you're into literature or history, especially the kind with knights and round tables, you can probably guess which burger I got.

The Avalon sounded like a solid bet with gruyere and bleu cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, garlic aioli, and baby arugula on an onion bun. I've had blue cheese burgers before, and the one thing i can say about them is, "Holy bleu cheese, Batman!" Bleu cheese just kills the flavor of the burger if there's too much. I love bleu cheese, but sometimes it can be brutal. Caramelized onions are always good, so no problems there, and I think we know how much I like bacon by now. I wasn't really sure what difference the baby arugula made, so I didn't pay much attention to it. It was something green and leafy.

First of all, combining bleu cheese with gruyere was a stroke of brilliance. There was enough bleu cheese to have that bite, but it didn't overpower the burger. I like the smoothness of gruyere, and it was just plain incredible on the burger. The buffalo was cooked pretty well in that it was close to medium. Finally, a place that didn't drastically overcook my burger! The onions were tasty adding a sweetness and just the right texture. The garlic aioli was actually really good. I'm a huge garlic fan, and the aioli was there to serve the rest of the flavors. Garlic is yet another food that can overpower a dish if you aren't careful. The baby arugula was just what this burger needed in terms of greens. You couldn't find a more perfect leafy, green thing to put on the burger. It was kind of delicate and mild. The texture didn't clash with the smoothness of the rest of the burger like a crunchier lettuce would have. Oh, bacon rocks and this burger had some nice crumbled bacon on it.

I pretty much inhaled that burger. It was definitely the best one I've had since my first burger at Cherry Cricket. That was only my second or third trip ever to Ted's Montana Grill, and I can't imagine it'll be my last. The Avalon was just so well put together that it'll be tough to try another burger when I go back. The flavors balanced out so well that it might be the holy grail of buffalo burgers.

The Nuggets game was a blast with Denver taking care of business at home. I will give some props to Lebron James though. The guy makes it look so easy. In any case, I can't think of anymore Arthurian references at the moment, so go eat this burger. You won't be disappointed. If you are disappointed, well, I don't know what to say. You just don't like awesome, delicious burgers.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hitting the Motherload

I've been a huge slacker. I've eaten several burgers, but there are two things have prevented me from posting a blog entry. My truly geeky friends will understand. I'm back now though! And I've decided not to post anything from more than a few weeks ago, so I guess I'll have to re-eat some good burgers. What a horrible life I have.

Time Destroyer #1

Time Destroyer #2


For my wife Liz's 30th birthday, we decided to stay up in Breckenridge, CO for a few days. Caitlin and Zach, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, joined us up in the beautiful Rocky Mountains as well. A little shopping, snowboarding, dining, and hanging out was in order for the post-Christmas week. The first night we spent at the Blue River Bistro. I enjoy hard cheese, soft cheese, melty cheese, spicy cheese, cheesy jokes, and any other kind of cheese you can think of. Blue River Bistro had the best baked brie cheese I've ever eaten. The four of us devoured the brie faster than you could spot a North Face jacket in a ski town. The rest of dinner was good, but I think I could've happily scarfed down like three orders of baked cheesy goodness.

The next day, we were destined for Keystone. The snow hasn't been great so far this season, but a day with mediocre snow is better than a day on the couch. With several runs closed, we were forced to spend the majority of the day on only a few runs. After a few hours, it was time for a lunch beer and some chili, bread bowl included. Stuffed from our satisfying lunches, we went back to the mountain. Zach and I convinced Caitlin and Liz to give a blue run, Mozart, a shot. The result was that Caitlin's knee looked like she had a baseball lodged in it. Remember the mediocre snow comment? Ice sucks unless it has some kind of adult beverage poured on it.

With some thirty year old soreness and a baseball knee, we decided to take it easy the next day. We moseyed down to Main Street and walked around for a bit. Our lunch destination ended up being the Motherloded Tavern. This place is a cool, laid back bar with some good beer and good food. Everything they make is food you'd want after a good day on the mountain. I had a tough decision with their array of unique burgers, but I eventually decided on a Maui Wowie Burger. Zach went with the Pregnant Elvis Burger, and Caitlin's meal was hands down the best food on the table.

The Maui Wowie comes with grilled pineapple, ham, teriyaki glaze, and mozzarella cheese. I've had similar burgers at Red Robin and other places, but I've never had a burger with ham, and I'm not entirely certain I've had mozzarella on a burger either. I'm one of those weirdos that likes ham and pineapple on pizza, and I guess I'm one of those weirdos that likes ham and pineapple on burgers too. The Maui Wowie was pretty darned good. It was a bit overcooked, but I'm learning that I should expect that from most places. Maybe cooking a burger to medium is tougher than I realized.

In any case, I'd totally recommend this burger to anyone interested in trying. I also took a bite of the Pregnant Elvis that Zach ordered. You can probably guess what the main topping was for this burger considering what The King liked to eat. I've always been interested/frightened to try to a burger with peanut butter as one of the toppings, so it was fantastic that I could try a bite without risking my whole meal on the outcome. I am frightened no longer, and you can bet that I'll be ordering a peanut butter burger in the near future.

I said before that Caitlin had the best item on the menu. She ordered the Grilled PB&J, which sounds like it could be good. Well, the Motherloaded Tavern stepped it up by putting chips inside. Caitlin decided that a PB&J with chips was nonsense and asked if she could add bacon. The waitress perked up a bit and replied, "Absolutely." I thought the sandwich sounded intriguing, and Caitlin was enjoying the heck out of it. I took one bite and instantly decided that I must try to make this on my own. That sandwich was so freaking amazing that I'm surprised it's not on every menu on the planet.

The rest of the week was awesome. I only get to see Liz about once a month for a long weekend if I'm lucky. Spending a few weeks with her was the best gift I could receive during the holidays. I'll be in Florida to visit a few times over the next couple of months, so maybe I'll do an entry on the road...with bacon. Unfortunately, Liz hates bacon, so I guess I won't be trying her non-bacony food. I guess we're all weirdos about some kind of food.