Burger Battle 2014

Riverwalk’s Burger Battle returned this year, and the competition at Burger Battle 2014 was fierce!  As usual, 16 Broward County restaurants threw down the gauntlet to see who makes the best burger.  It was a hot, humid evening.  But, that didn’t stop anyone from showing up.  Veteran competitors, defending champions, and newcomers all faced off.  Who delivered, and who crashed and burned?  Let’s find out, shall we?

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Waiting by the entrance to get in, you could already smell the beef cooking.  Just check out all that smoke!

By the time I got in, my mouth was watering.  I dove right in.

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  • Burger 1: Hard Rock Cafe’s Carolina Burger
    • Lettuce, tomato, Carolina sauce, bacon, and Monterey Jack cheese on a pretzel bun
    • The bacon was astonishingly good on this one, and the beef was juicy.  It was a solid contender, and I would order this if I ever went to Hard Rock.
  • Burger 2: American Social’s The Miami Heater Burger
    • Blended patty (brisket, chuck, short rib) blended with caramelized Spanish onions and spices, stuffed with Boursin Cheese, and wrapped in jalapeño bacon.  Topped with truffle-infused rosemary shitake mushrooms and creamy pesto aioli on an onion brioche bun
    • This burger had a LOT going on, but it somehow came together in perfect harmony.  They ended up getting my vote that night.
  • Burger 3: Downtowner Saloon’s Sweet Chutney Bacon Burger
    • A slider with plantain chips, jalapeños, and bacon tomato chutney
    • It was a little too sweet, and otherwise unremarkable.
  • Burger 4: Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox (4th Place and Best Burger Joint Burger Tie)
    • An Ocala beef patty with bacon, spring mix greens, bourbon pimento cheese, and Tucker sauce on an onion bun
    • What really put me off about this burger was that the sauce on it tastes exactly like the sauce that they put on Big Macs.  That’s all that I could taste.

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  •  Burger 5: Sweet Nectar
    • Charcoal-grilled Prime beef burger with braised short rib, coleslaw, and sweet nectar reduction
    • The sauce was sweet, but not unbearably so.  They were also the only ones cooking their burgers with charcoal, which meant great smokey beef flavor with their burger.  I enjoyed it.
  • Burger 6: Big Bear Brewing Co
    • Shaved Prime Rib, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, and horseradish sauce
    • My took one bite and yelled “Holy crap!  This is a good burger.”  I think that about sums it up.  Simple, but delicious
  • Burger 7: Georgie’s Alibi’s Atomic BBQ Burger
    • New York Deli blend burger (chuck, short rib, and brisket), white cheddar, maple pepper bacon, fireball BBQ sauce, pickles, and potato sticks on a Challah bun
    • Melting candy to make a sauce is a flash of genius.  You could kind of taste the fireball in the sauce, but it was also an entirely new taste at the same time.  It paired well with the other ingredients.
  • Burger 8: Hollywood Prime’s Mother Goose Burger
    • Braised short rib, foie gras, mushrooms, and onions on a Challah bun
    • This was the first time in Burger Battle history that I have ever spit a burger out after taking a bite.  My friends liked it, so I can only assume that I just don’t like foie gras.

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  • Burger 9: Whiskey Tango’s Bangkok Hangover Burger
    • A burger with cheddar cheese, pepper crusted bacon, an over-easy egg, and Sriracha sauce
    • The Sriracha and the egg – two flavors that I don’t normally like to begin with – did not play nice together.  This burger was spicy, eggy, and not for me.
  • Burger 10: Timpano’s Red Wine Infused Burger
    • A port infused burger with roasted garlic, oregano, thyme, smoked Gouda cheese, maple Cajun bacon, balsamic onion jam, and basil aioli on a Challah bun
    • Events like Burger Battle are the times in which a chef needs to take risks.  You show up making a crazy burger and can either soar to the top, or come crashing down.  There should be no in-between.  Last time that Timpano was here, I noted that their burger was too safe.  Here, the burger had so much going on, that I thought it was going to be a disaster.  Instead, this was one of the best burgers of the night.  One of the most cohesive flavor profiles.  Bravo, Timpano.
  • Burger 11:  Shooters Waterfront’s Shooter’s Burger (Third Place and Best Knife and Fork Burger)
    • A bacon-crusted burger cooked in duck fat with Romaine slaw, tomato, onion, homemade pickles, Dijonnaise, ketchup, and white cheddar cheese
    •  I think my friend said it best when she took a bite and said “It’s basically a Whopper.”  It’s a pretty good burger, but nothing stood out to me.
  • Burger 12: Burger Zone
    • A burger with American cheese, pickles, and ketchup
    • Meh.

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  • Burger 13: Shula Burger’s French Onion Burger
    • A burger with caramelized onions, double Gruyère cheese, garlic mayo, and crushed garlic croutons
    • I actually liked this burger quite a bit.  The onions weren’t overpowering, and I love garlic.
  • Burger 14: Gimme a Burger’s Kentucky Bourbon Jammin’ Burger
    • A burger patty infused with bourbon garlic tomato jam and bacon, balsamic onion reduction, Asiago cheese, exotic chips, and Orleans Bootleg Sauce
    • This burger was TOO sweet.  It’s a shame, because this burger had a lot of hype and one of the longest lines the entire night.
  • Burger 15: Rosie’s Bar and Grill’s Cat 5 Burger (2nd Place and Fan Favorite)
    • A burger with candied bacon, garlic, secret sauce, and topped with fried cheese
    • Everyone was talking about this burger the whole night.  I thought it was a bit of a letdown.  I think they used pepper jack cheese.  Something about it just didn’t work for me.
  • Burger 16: Burgers and Sud’s Escobar Burger
    • A burger with apple spiced bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, bleu cheese, and cayenne pepper sauce
    • I almost didn’t even get to try this burger, because I didn’t notice their booth until the very end.  That would have been a crime, because it ended up being one of my favorites.  It was like buffalo wings in burger form, which combines two of my favorite things.  Brilliant!

So, Burger Battle 2014 came and went.  After 16 burgers, I was ready for a NAP.  Sadly, there was no dessert station this year.  There were clear standouts, as usual.  Kudos to all of the participants for getting out there in the sweltering South Florida heat and making burgers happen for gluttons like me.  I’ll be back next year!

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