Riverwalk Trust Burger Battle 2013

Burger Battle is easily one of the annual food events that I look forward to the most.  And, why not?  You basically get to walk around, sampling burgers from numerous restaurants competing for the title of “Best Burger”, and then vote for your favorite.  And, as if that wasn’t enough, there is also a French fry bar (catered by Capital Grille this year) and a dessert bar (catered by Susie’s Scrumptious Sweets).  So, with an open mind and empty stomach, I ventured forth into the burger bliss!

This year, I decided to try and keep track of each restaurant, and what they brought to the table.  It would serve me well to remember which restaurants made a memorable burger, so that I can go back there in the future.  Plus, you’ll want to know who the stronger contenders are for the following year.  Here, I’ve broken them down into sets of 4.  Let the burger mayhem begin!

Clockwise from top left: The Grateful Palate, Evolution Burger, Charm City Burger, Grille 401
  • Burger 1: The Grateful Palate – a burger topped with crispy pancetta, pepper jack cheese, and avocado aioli.
    • This was a solid burger.  The flavors worked very well together, especially the creaminess of the avocado sauce with the zing of the pepper jack cheese
  • Burger 2: Evolution Burger – a classic burger with lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, and onions
    • Evolution Burger boasts all organic ingredients.  The burger was unremarkable.
  • Burger 3: Charm City Burger (won “Best Burger Joint” burger) – the “wizz burger” with a brisket blend, bacon-cheese fondue, crispy onions, pickled tomato, and spicy charm sauce on a sesame seed bun
    • I remember their “charm sauce” from their entry last year.  I still don’t like it.,  Seeing as how they won last year, and my companion enjoyed hers thoroughly, I might be the only one.
  • Burger 4: Grille 401 – a “southwest burger” with ham, swiss cheese, crispy onions, on a brioche bun and served with a side of truffle sweet potato fries
    • This was Grille 401’s debut performance at Burger Battle, and it showed.  They were struggling to get their burgers out in a timely manner, which meant we had to wait longer than usual to get one.  I’m sure they will get it together for next year.  Since I don’t like ham, I could take it or leave it.  The patty itself was good, but my companion’s was very rare, almost raw.  The fries, though, made the wait worthwhile.  Shame we weren’t judging fries.
Clockwise- Burger Freak, Rosie’s, Big Bear Brewing Co., and Downtowner Saloon
  • Burger 5: Burger Freak – the “tattooed lady” had lettuce, tomato, sauteed onions, bacon, provolone cheese, and sundried tomato aioli; the “lion tamer” (not pictured) had lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, chedder cheese, and something they called “freak sauce”
    • The tattooed lady was a good burger.  The meat was well-cooked, and the provolone paired very well with the aioli, which did not overwhelm the burger.  The lion tamer’s freak sauce had a bit of sweetness, as well as a little kick.  Considering the amount of raw pickles and onions on the burger, it wasn’t my cup of tea.  My companion enjoyed it, though.
  • Burger 6: Rosie’s (Burger Battle 2013 winner, “Best Bar and Grill” burger, and “Fan Favorite”) – the “bacon bitty bang bang” with bourbon bacon jam, chipotle bang bang  sauce, roasted plum tomato, brie cheese, and kettle chips
    • Rosie’s consistently had one of the longest lines of the evening, so I had high hopes.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed.  The huge chunk of plum tomato nestled in the burger (see photo) made it taste more like I was eating a tomato sandwich.  The patty was incredibly juicy, to their credit.  They must have been doing something right, though, as they took home 3 titles.  Perhaps I was the only one unfortunate enough to get too much tomato.
  • Burger 7: Big Bear Brewing Co. – wagyu beef, brie cheese, sauteed onions, garlic mayo
    • One of the ways that I measure how well a burger is executed is with the level in which I am able to overlook ingredients that I dislike in the overall taste of the burger.  I REALLY dislike mayonnaise, but the garlic mayo on this burger may have just made me a convert.  The beef patty was perfectly cooked, juicy, and flavorful.  The mellowness of the brie struck a perfect balance.  This was my favorite of the night.
  • Burger 8: Downtowner Saloon – pesto, bleu cheese, and olives
    • I didn’t like this one.  It probably didn’t help that I dislike olives.  I think there may have been ground sausage in the patty, also.  It had some sort of spice to it.
Clockwise: Timpano Italian Chophouse, Burger Zone, Gimme a Burger, and America’s Backyard
  •  Burger 9: Timpano Italian Chophouse – short rib chuck mix patty, vermont white cheddar, shallots, and bacon
    • This was a very good burger.  Simple and classic.  While I would order this at a restaurant, I think they played it a little too safe for a competition.
  • Burger 10: Burger Zone – bacon, pepper jack cheese, and jalapeno pineapple sauce
    • If the napkins and tent decorations were any indication, this was intended to be a Polynesian-inspired burger.  The pineapple sauce was was not as spicy as I thought it would be, but still cloying.  The bun that they served it on tasted like a Hawaiian roll, which didn’t help.
  • Burger 11: Gimme a Burger – their bourbon/bacon infused burger had smoked provolone, balsamic onion jam, spicy bacon curls, and a drizzle of bacon onion dijoinnaise
    • Given the incredible number of burgers that were playing up the sweet and salty combinations, getting a burger with an acidic flavor profile was refreshing.
  • Burger 12: America’s Backyard – a beef, pork, and veal patty with alfalfa sprouts and tzatziki sauce on a brioche bun
    • The flavor of the patty definitely brought to mind a gyro.  So, if that was their goal, than they succeeded.  Still, this one didn’t do it for me.
Clockwise – Georgie’s Alibi, Big City Tavern, American Social, Rok:Brgr
  • Burger 13: Goergie’s Alibi – the “County Fair Burger” is a 10oz patty topped with spicy chorizo, onions, peppers, provolone cheese, and garlic mayo on a tellera roll
    • I was leery about the spicy chorizo, since I’m a wuss when it comes to spice.  But, I enjoyed this one a lot more than I expected to.  This was a messy one, so it’s good that they chose a fairly firm bread to hold it together.  They were also serving cotton candy shakes to go with the burger, but I didn’t partake.  I was afraid that it might interfere with the taste of the burgers that I still needed to try.
  • Burger 14: Big City Tavern (Winner “Best Knife and Fork Burger”) – Angus beef burger with truffle mayo, fried egg, braised pork belly, and vermont cheddar
    • According to the friend who was with me, I made a face after I took my first bite.  I believe her, because one bite was enough, and I tossed it.  To be fair, I REALLY don’t like eggs.  This was the favorite of two of the other people that I came with, so I’m sure it’s good if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • Burger 15: American Social – a burger with mushrooms on it
    • I don’t really have much to say about this one.  It was decent, but nothing about it stood out.
  • Burger 16: Rok:Brgr – The “southern hospitality burger”; certified Angus beef “prime” patty with smoked maple cheddar, tomato jam, maple pepper bacon, and a fried green tomato on a brioche bun
    • Oh, Rok:Brgr, what were you thinking!?  The 2011 and 2012 Fan Favorite lost their title this year, and with good reason.  The first thing I felt when I took a bite of this burger was how utterly sweet it was.  Maple overkill is fine on pancakes, but not so much on burgers.  Somehow, they couldn’t get the flavors to balance each other out.
So, sixteen burger tastings later, I still managed to make some room for the french fry bar.
Fresh out of the fryer!
Having Capital Grille cater the french fry bar was truly phenomenal.  They were hot, fresh, and crispy.  They also offered an assortment of dipping sauces (ketchup, chipotle maple mayonnaise, roasted jalapeño mango ketchup, and Parmesan garlic chive aioli).  Best of all, in addition to an endless supply of french fries, they were also offering their amazing truffle fries!  If’you have never had their truffle fries, drop everything and go try them NOW!  You’re welcome.
Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
And, let’s not forget the dessert bar!  They had mocha macarons!
Too bad I was too full of burgers to fully enjoy.
While I am disappointed that none of my favorites took home any prizes this year, I still think it was a night well spent.  The competition gets fiercer every year, and it’s great to see all of the different approaches that are taken to elevate the classic burger to new heights.  I can’t wait until next year!

2 comments

  1. I simply wish I would have went !!! Next year I’m gonna try my hardest to make it.

    1. You certainly missed quite an experience. Even getting rained on didn’t slow us down.

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