Burgerliscious 2014

Burgerliscious is back for another year of burger mayhem.  Burgerliscious, in which participating Coral Gables restaurants complete to see who makes the best burger, drew a big crowd.  As usual, I had to get in on the action and sample what each restaurant had to offer at Burgerliscious 2014.

As a general rule, I take at least one bite of each burger as-is.  That is, even if the burger contains toppings that I dislike, I will try it anyway.  I respect the time and thought that each chef has put into their burger creations, and owe it to them to at least try their burger as they intend it to be enjoyed.

So, away we go!

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  • Burger 1: The 305 Burger from The Regency Hotel
    • Chorizo and ground beef patty with arugula, bleu cheese, onion, potato strings, and tartar sauce
    • This was a really good burger.  It was juicy, and the chorizo in the patty did not overtake the burger.  Think of it as a white-collar Cuban frita.
  • Burger 2: The Pineapple Jerk Burger from The Westin Collonade Hotel
    • Jerk seasoned patty with pineapple, tomato, and onions on a brioche bun
    • The last time that someone put pineapple on a burger was a disaster for me.  This burger has renewed my faith in putting tropical fruit on burgers.  Sweet and heat made a nice combination.
  • Burger 3: The Shula Burger from Shula 347 Grill
    • Caramelized short rib and brisket, caramelized onion jam, Brie cheese, and arugula salad on a brioche bun
    • Wow!  There’s a lot to be said when a burger just bursts juices into your mouth when you take a bite.  Crispy beef was a great alternative to bacon, and the creamy Brie tied it all together.  This was one of my favorites.
  • Burger 4: The French Onion Burger from Crave
    • A burger patty on an English muffin with Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and a special sauce
    • This one was better than I expected it to be, and a vast improvement from their usual offerings.  It was a little heavy on the onion, but otherwise it was pretty good.  They also had a Hawaiian burger, which wasn’t very good.

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  • Burger 5: The Shrimp Burger from Bread + Butter
    • A shrimp patty with plantain relish
    • This burger was surprisingly good.  Who knew that shrimp could work in a burger?  It wasn’t dry, rubbery shrimp.  It was tender shrimp.  The sweet plantain relish set it off nicely.
  • Burger 6: The Tellagio Brisket Burger from Epicure
    • A brisket burger stuffed with Asiago and Tellagio cheeses on Challah; topped with a cheesy tater tot
    • The burger itself was pretty standard, as far as burgers go.  The cheeses were a little too intense for my tastes.  That tater tot, on the other hand, was absolutely inspired.  They did it a great injustice by calling it a tater tot.  It was more like fried cheesy mashed potatoes.
  • Burger 7: The Turkey Panini Burger from Books and Books
    • Turkey, roasted red pepper, and bacon patty with caramelized pear, watercress, Brie cheese, and mango chutney on an onion Kaiser roll.
    • This is, by far, the best burger that Books and Books has entered into one of these competitions.  It did remind me of a turkey panini.
  • Burger 8: The Carbonara Burger from Eating House
    • A burger with grana padano cheese, black truffle egg yolk, and bacon
    • This was the only burger of the night with truffle.  Thankfully, they didn’t go overboard with it.  The bacon was extra salty an crunchy, which balanced the richness of the cheese and yolk very well.

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  • Burger 9: The Braised Short Rib Slider from Christy’s
    • A short rib slider with arugula, shaved red onion, aji amarillo aioli, and aged white cheddar
    • It’s technically not a burger, but who am I to refuse an offering of tender and juicy beef on a bun?  This was an improvement from last year.
  • Burger 10: The Burger Fi Cheeseburger from Burger Fi
    • A classic burger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and special sauce
    • Meh.
  • Burger 11: The Swine Burger from Swine Southern Table and Bar (Third Place Winner)

    • Short rib, brisket, and pork blend patties with american cheese, Swine sauce, lettuce, tomato, homemade pickles, and house smoked bacon
    • I love the Swine burger.  I really do.  The problem is, I also loved it last year.  I wish they would take a chance and make something new.
  • Burger 12: The Maki Melt from Sushi Maki (People’s Choice Winner)

    • A Kobe beef patty with caramelized onions, Gouda cheese, Oshanko slaw, and ramen crisps on a potato roll
    • This was not at all what I was expecting from Sushi Maki.  The ramen noodles added a fun crunch to the burger.  I liked it.  Plus, they used a potato roll!

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  • Burger 13: The Perfecto Burger from Pincho Factory (Second Place Winner)

    • A burger topped with Jack cheese, caramelized onions, potato sticks, and cilantro sauce
    • This was a really good burger!  I miss their Toston burger, though.
  • Burger 14: The American Classic Burger from Bricktop’s
    • Classic burger with white American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion
    • These were some of the most appetizing burgers of the night on appearance alone.  However, there was just too much pickle on the burger.  I couldn’t taste much of anything else.
  • Burger 15: Bocata de Costilla from Bulla Gastrobar
    • A sandwich with braised short rib, piquillo peppers, caramelized onions, Tetillo cheese, and peppercorn sauce on an artisan baguette
    • This was a really good sandwich!
  • Burger 16: The MeisterShack from Shake Shack
    • Angus beef patty with crispy ShackMeister ale-marinated shallots and Shack Sauce
    • I drank 2 cups of their blueberry lemonade.  The burger was not too different in taste from the usual Shake Shack burger.  The bun was kind of soggy, and made it hard to eat.  And, as usual, I’m not a fan of their sauce.

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  • Burger 17: The Aloha Gourmet Burger from Doctor’s Hospital
    • A pork and brisket burger with mango and pineapple, Asian slaw, bacon, and gruyere cheese
    • To come out of a hospital cafeteria, this was not bad.  A little too sweet for my particular tastes, but I was pretty impressed.
  • Burger 18: The Tarpon Burger from Tarpon Bend
    • A ground chuck burger with cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles, mayo, and mustard
    • The strange thing is that I absolutely love this burger when it’s full-sized.  But, the sliders just didn’t work for me.  Not much flavor and personality in these.
  • Burger 19: The Drunken Pretzel Burger from Rok:Brgr (First Place Winner)

    • A burger with aged Vermont cheddar cheese, house-made beer mustard, and fried onion rings on a pretzel bun
    • I was happy to see Rok:Brgr return to Burgerliscious after sitting out last year.  The Drunken Pretzel was everything I hoped for in a burger.  Juicy, cheesy, tender, with a bun that is soft, but can still hold itself together.  They got my vote.
  • Burger 20: The Rice Noodle “Bun” Burger from Tum Tum’s Asian Street Food
    • A burger with pickled cucumber and bacon jam on a “bun” made of crispy rice noodles
    • They get points for creativity, and the burger itself was tasty and juicy.  But, the noodle “bun” made the burger so incredibly messy and difficult to eat that I got a little bit frustrated.  I’d recommend a knife and fork for this one.
  • Burger 21 (not pictured): The Courtyard Burger from The Courtyard Marriot
    • Caribbean spiced burger with onions and sesame seeds
    • It seems that I forgot to take a picture of this burger.  However, I assure you that you are not missing much.  It was bland and dry.  Not impressed.

As you can see, there was a burger to suit everyone’s tastes.  And, if you ever needed a break from burgers, Pardo’s Chicken was on-site offering tastings of ceviche, Peruvian cilantro rice, and roast chicken.

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It was fresh and delicious.  Defintiely a welcome break from the heavy, greasy burgers.

And, if you were craving something sweet to offset the savory, Seasons 52 was once again offering a dessert bar.

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This year’s offerings were Pecan Pie, Rocky Road, Raspberry Cannoli, and Carrot Cake.  Yum!

Many congratulations to all of the winners at Burgerliscious 2014!  I can’t wait until next year!

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