Thursday, January 23, 2014

BurgerFi Food Review

Silver Spring, Maryland is finally ready to leap into the 21st century. It's about time, don't you think? The downtown area was already blessed with a concert venue, two top-flight movie theaters and an ice-skating rink (all within a two-block radius) but when it came to fast casual food... Let's just say, I found the options disappointing. Stranger still, not a burger joint to be found... anywhere. Well, thankfully that's all about to change with the opening of Florida-based BurgerFi. How can one business legitimize an entire region, you ask? It's actually pretty simple.

Innovation. Something BurgerFi offers in abundance, along with an emphasis on quality. See? I told you it was simple. Simple, but rare. Let's start with the space itself, which might be the nicest of all burger "joints" in the area. Details abound, from Xlerator fast hand dryers in the restrooms, Big Ass Fans ceiling fans inside and out, and not one, but two Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. Cold outside? Sit under two overhead heating lamps, and at tables made of recycled milk jugs (336 jugs for a small table, 996 for a large.) Even the chairs are green - each one, comprised of 111 recycled Coke bottles. Other places may have one or two of these, but not all.

Outdoor dining... Hurry up Spring!

Service was tremendous, although it wasn't quite as busy as you'd expect on a normal opening day (biting cold weather will do that.) Lead cashier Andrea is a gem, as is her fellow BurgerFi'er (OK, I'm making up words now... forgive me) who recommended a Coffee Mocha Shake towards the end of my visit. The associates here are young, attractive and energetic: Bottom line, BurgerFi managed to find a staff that matches their impeccable food. Pay for your food at the counter, take a pager, and find a seat: Gourmet food is on its way.

Build Your Best Burger

Food... Shame on me for waiting four paragraphs to get to it. I can't remember ordering (and finishing) more items on an initial inspection than today's feast. Total damage? Two burgers (one with two patties) one incredible hot dog, french fries, onion rings, a Coke de Mexico (cane sugar!) and a milk shake. Did I mention finishing all of it? I started with an all-Wagyu Kobe Beef Dog, ½ + ½ Burger (off their secret menu) and an order of Cry and Fries (onion rings & fries.)

Fresh Cut Fries

Let's start with proteins: I've had a lot of hot dogs in my day, but never one made entirely of Kobe Beef. You want rich? Look no further. Let's just say, this ain't your ballpark dog... even when dressed only in ketchup & mustard. Size is normal, same for the bun... but each bite seems to come straight from Heaven. I already have a call into Camden Yards to replace the dogs there (Cal Ripken's gonna freak.)

Then there's Secret Menu entry #1 (nine total items, including Well Done and Limp fries.) I'm talking about the most unique burger I've encountered in a long time. The ½ + ½ Burger is 695 calories of double-patty bliss, made up of one Natural Angus burger and one quinoa. I saved on calories by skipping American Cheese (but not the BurgerFi sauce... yum) and found the burger to be incredibly moist (the quinoa, made up of carrots, zucchini, etc. tasted like a filling of sorts... hard to explain, but good.)  Organic ketchup (yes, you have a choice) atop gorgeous folds of lettuce (they hand pick the lettuce too, I'm not kidding) with onions & tomatoes completes the masterpiece. Not sure what market they're going after (non-meat eaters can order the Hippie Veggie or the VeggieFi) but I loved it. Go figure.

Coffee Mocha Shake

I made sure to wait 15 minutes before ordering a Build Your Best Burger; but that allowed more time to enjoy the GIANT size onion rings and fries. Both are good, but not necessarily better than everyone else (truth is, fries are fries... ditto for rings.) To their credit, neither was greasy... so there can be room for something else. For me, that meant the aforementioned BYBB. First, you choose how many patties (one, two or three) I picked one, but keep in mind... I was already short on room. Next, free toppings (they have A-1 sauce... how smart is that?) I went with tomatoes only; and after that, premium (open your wallet, it's worth it) toppings... for me, hickory bacon and a fried egg. Last but not least, the type of meat. I opted for 28-day dry aged ground brisket. That's right: A Brisket Burger Baby!

I totally understand if you stop reading this review, drop everything and run over to BurgerFi: In fact, I might just join you. That's because this burger is out-of-this world delicious (good enough to debut at #3 on our Top 5 burgers list.) The egg didn't gush like Good Stuff Eatery, but everything else was perfect. You could argue (as I did) that this is better, since it doesn't require a dozen napkins to clean up after. The only drawback? It costs a little more than 10 bucks... but you get what you pay for (and then some.)

Andrea (center) - Cashier extraordinaire

What made my first visit to BurgerFi so remarkable was (1) I stayed longer (great atmosphere) and (2) I never got full. This was a lot of food for anyone... even a food critic. Perhaps it was listening to "Eye of the Tiger," or Van Halen's "And the Cradle will Rock..." via their overhead speakers, but I still found room for dessert. BurgerFi offers a number of Custards and Concretes (think layers... lots of layers) and I received a hearty recommendation to try the Coffee Mocha Shake. OMG. I drink coffee (always black) and this shake tastes of it, but with the added joy of ice cream, and chocolate syrup. How good is it? It cracked our Top 5 milkshake list... If you're counting, that makes two Top 5 places (and a third, if I tracked Hot Dogs as well.) This should explain the unabashed glow of this review.

BurgerFi interior

I'm greatful (tickled) to still find surprises in the fast casual burger game; and BurgerFi qualifies as a dandy. Silver Spring is their 35th location nationwide (including Leesburg, VA, which sadly escapes my radar) and it's destined for greatness as the premier place in the area to have a burger without leaving a tip. You just don't find across-the-board quality, as you do here. I didn't even mention their selection of craft beers & wine... Yet alone other details, such as Hot Cajun Spices for the fries (available in buckets too) chili toppings, root beer floats, etc. They even brand their buns. Are you kidding me? Silver Spring went from zero burger options to owning the best, overnight. Welcome once again to the 21st century!

Click here to check out the full menu.

Even the custom light fixtures are cool