Monday, April 12, 2010

BGR The Burger Joint

*Post by Mark.
As a screenwriter, I'm often crafting ridiculous stories that have titles and log lines but will (for obvious reasons) never be written.  One such idea is an action-comedy called 'Take Out' and is the bitter story of rival Chinese delivery joints whose delivery men may or may not be experts in the arts of Kung-Fu.  While my mildly-offensive script will most likely never make it past the one-line description written above, I think my subconscious is seeking out alternative means of expression.  I've recently managed to create a fictional rivalry between two real life Dupont Circle burger establishments that can and must be settled in some elaborate burger throw-down that only takes place in my head (and I suppose in my tummy, too).

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Dupont's Rogue States- a happening new burger stop a few blocks south of the circle.  Today, in all fairness, and to avoid the all-out North Dupont vs. South Dupont gang riots (that could only be conjured up in a bad screenplay) that would surely ensue without equal treatment, I'll be taking a look at the north-side's BGR: The Burger Joint .

Click below to see what we ate!

Can you imagine a Dupont Circle gang-riot?  I can only imagine that it would resemble 'West Side Story' except with a drastically higher dancing-to-knife-fighting ratio.*

"Look how big this cheeseburger is, In America..."

Gone are the days of walking into 50's-style diners with jukeboxes and waitresses in roller skates.  Perhaps in the time since I was a child the 50s have gone from nostalgic to prehistoric.  But at BGR, the window of nostalgia has shifted into the 1980s.  The first thing you see when you walk into the door is the blue wall lined with cover art from the decade's greatest rock and pop albums.  Approaching the counter is like walking through a Casey Kasem countdown from twenty-five years ago.  Phil Collins' 'In the Air Tonight' was working the smooth magic of its slow build as we stepped up to the counter.

It was a little bit of a bummer that there were no menus when we arrived.  The chalk board by the registers lists the restaurant's different burgers by name only.  So without a menu, who's to know, for instance, that a Greek Burger is actually made out of lamb (you don't even want to know what's in the Baby Burger).  Though the cashier told us she'd be happy to answer any questions, it resulted in me just pointing adventurously and asking for, 'umm.. how about that one?'

That one, turned out to be The Southwestern- a burger made with ground beef, infused with chipotles, poblanos, onion and chilis.  It's topped with a big slice of pepper jack cheese and makes room for some black bean salsa and mojo sauce between its buns (wow, sorry... I wasn't even trying to make that sound sexual.)  I got it with a side of sweet potato fries. (Yeah, I'm still thinking about the sheer inappropriateness of that last description.  Seriously.  I'm sorry.  Drop it.  Okay?)

The Southwestern burger w/ 'The Orange Standard' Sweet Potato Fries

The Southwestern falls somewhere in between a burger and a Sloppy Joe in the wide spectrum of meat sandwiches.  The beef was cooked with enough juicy fillings that it crumbled and broke away more like you'd imagine from the Burger's Sloppy counterpart.  This one was very juicy and loaded up with enough of BGR's signature 'mojo' sauce to have a very sweet touch.  The bun was small and a little boring, but for the most part, I enjoyed the burger.  I found the portion to be on the may-need-to-order-two-next-time side of things. 

Cross-Section of The Southwestern

The sweet potato fries (or 'The Orange Standard' as they call them) were very mediocre.  Since my dining experience, I have become aware that additional seasonings (garlic, parmesan, rosemary) could be added to the sweet potato fries upon request.  I'd like to blame the absence of said seasonings on the lack of menus, but having already been a number of times when the menu was available, I can't say I was ever aware of their availability.

Angela ordered The Greek- BGR's lamb burger (there's also an Ahi Tuna burger, a Turkey burger, a Pork Burger and when it's in season, a Lobster roll?).  The Greek is ground leg of lamb seasoned with cumin, mint, and garlic, topped with tzatziki sauce and feta cheese.  To mix things up, Angela got a side of grilled asparagus spears (deemed 'The Green Standard'.  It should be noted that the original french fries are called 'The Gold Standard') which come topped with a hefty sprinkle of Parmesan.  You could really tell the tasty asparagus had been made-to-order and there just might be a little bit of nutritional value hiding in there somewhere.

The Greek w/ 'The Green Standard' Asparagus Spears

Angela ordered it rare, and was quick to notice it was much more cooked than she would have preferred.  Even so, the lamb was tender and the feta and tzatziki added some real interesting contrasts and flavors.  From the couple of bites she kindly donated, I think I preferred her lamb to my Southwestern.  In previous visits, Angela really liked The Wellington while I've really enjoyed the Classic burger topped with bacon, but  I rather disliked their Turkey Burger.

Cross-Section of The Greek

So, back we come to this issue of the throw-down-to-end-all-throw-downs.  On the north side there is BGR, and on the south side is Rogue States.  Rogue States' thick, fluffy bun had left me wanting a little less of it while BGR's thin bun made the burger seem less than substantial. While I enjoyed BGR's flavorful sauces like the mojo on The Southwestern or the creamy tzatziki on The Greek, it was refreshing to find Rogue State's flavors baked subtly into the burgers.  Both places show a commitment to quality beefs and meats, but the edge remains on the side of Rogue States.

Mind you, this merely makes Rogue States king of Dupont.  Ray's is still the grand champion of DC and a long overdue upcoming visit to Chef Spike's Good Stuff Eatery threatens to steal that crown.

BGR is also known for having some good shakes and features a new flavor each month.  This month's variety is Cherry Blossom.  It sounded awesome, but I've got to keep in top dancing shape should that Dupont Circle gang-riot ever present itself.

*Angela's Note:  As long as we're imagining things here, I should let you know that in my head, I'm a very accomplished knife-fighter.  This may or may not be true in real life as well.


  1. Don't worry, as good as Good Stuff is, it wont steal Ray's crown

  2. They have a Burger Joint in Old Town, and I've been dying to go. Now that I see those glorious sweet potato fries, I think I'll just have to leave work now....

  3. Very smart writing and engaging post Mark!! Love it!! Wanna take my son there when he is up and about, or at least tell him to go w/some friends:)

  4. Sara-

    Unfortunately the BGR sweet potato fries are hardly the reason to go. You can get better S.P.F. nearly anywhere. Rogue States- which is a short walk from your office- has IMO, slightly better burgers and much better sweet potato fries for my money.

    Rogue States:

  5. k this post is written really well but I guess Rogue States is a better joint...I will stir my son that way...

  6. Shulie-
    You better stop it with the compliments, or Mark will be impossible to live with...

    To be perfectly honest, both are really great burger joints. We both prefer the burgers at Rogue States (but not by THAT much), but BGR might be a more fun space.

  7. Angela baby, I love you too. But Mark got me at 'HS soccer playa'!! I got a babe (in so many ways) here myself so I know a good thing when I see it. Although I keep him on his toes (they like the chase so bitchy goes along way) when watch out Mark don't let this get to your head or fool you cause at the end of the day I am on Angela's side:). But really love you both:)

  8. I really like the Wellington burger at BGR. Plus, the last time I went they gave me a free cookie, so that's always a plus.

    I haven't tried Rogue States yet, but will have to check it out soon.

  9. Justin-
    Yeah, I liked the Wellington a lot, too. Man, blue cheese and mushrooms are a kick-ass combination. I think I'll stick with that if I go back.

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