Saturday, August 15, 2015

Boss Burger Food Review

You're Fired Burger and Board Room Fries

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Not always, and definitely not at Boss Burger... the eerily familiar replacement for Black & Orange, itself a reincarnation (of Rogue States.) Who knows if the same owner(s) are in charge; but one thing's for sure, the quality is nowhere close to what it used to be.

The U Street Corridor has seen its fair share of improvements; and Black & Orange (which closed back in March) appeared to fill a glaring void for a tasty, inexpensive burger on a block full of better, pricier alternatives. The fact that they failed, just months after the closing of their Dupont Circle location was hard to fathom. But weeks later, Boss Burger popped up in its place with almost the exact same menu... on paper. Sadly, the grill work (more on that, later) is even more inconsistent than it used to be, which is a real shame because the flavorful recipes are dynamite.

I arrived for lunch just after 1:00 on a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon. There was only one other customer inside, and none on the patio... not a good sign. Boss Burger appears to cater to an after hours crowd (Black Cat, U Street Music Hall) that presumably doesn't demand much. The decor is bare bones/industrial (a la a spruced-up jumbo slicery) with an overall old feel. GnR's November Rain & "Rock You Like a Hurricane" by the Scorpions blares in the background, while Walker, Texas Ranger plays on the flat screen (sans sound.) Not exactly hip, is it?

View of the back

Ordering is a struggle, since the order taker was very hard to understand (English = second, possibly/probably third language.) I had to say "excuse me," thrice in a single minute. Not good. I placed an order for a You're Fired burger, Board Room Fries (potato) and a fountain drink ($7.95, $2.95 and $2 respectively, no combos.) The burger is spelled without an "e" in You're, which probably explains why someone was fired. For the record, it's spelled correctly on the receipt. However you spell it, it's HOT. It's made with BOSS spice, habaneros, red onions and roasted garlic; and it smells delicious. Total price? $13.64, including tax. You're given a card with a number, and your order is brought to your table when ready.

The kitchen is open concept; and I was relieved to see the fries handled by someone wearing protective gloves. The burger however, arrived way underdone in the middle and well-done on the edges. Once again, not good. Fries were utterly flavorless and flat-out boring. The sauces (Old Bay, etc.) were runny and yucky... but the burger toppings (lettuce, tomato, more onions) were nice & fresh. The burger bun had grill marks on top, but it must have been on said grill for only a second or two, no more. The outer portion of the burger was quite flavorful and moist; but the underdone center ruined the overall effect. Let's just say, I didn't trust finishing it.

Other observations? The bathrooms are individual (thank goodness, especially during the wee hours) and surprisingly clean. The overall atmosphere is downright depressing; and even the fountain drinks tasted "soapy," which tells me the taps need to be changed. Toss in a few flies, and the aforementioned decades-old rock ballads; and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to predict this place won't last long.

Whether or not that makes a difference, remains to be seen. Odds are, someone will just carry over the same menu with a different name. Fourth time's the charm, right? Wrong.

Atmosphere: D- (Perhaps it gets livelier, when it's filled with drunks? Here's hoping I never find out.)
Burger: D (Black & Orange had amazing flavors. Boss Burger? Hard to tell, especially when it's not cooked properly.)
Fries: D+ (Needs improvement. Fix the sauces, while you're at it.)
Service: D (Pleasant enough, but very hard to understand/communicate with.)
Value: C (Offering a $1 or $2 combo discount would help.)
Overall: D (I've had worse, but not by much.)