Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Duke's Counter Food Review

Proper Burger at Duke's Counter

Sound the alarm: There's an all-star burger near Cleveland Park! Technically, it's in Woodley Park, across the street from the National Zoo; but it's less than two blocks away from home, sweet home (how convenient!) Duke's Counter replaced the Zoo Bar Cafe last July, offering London-inspired fare to locals and tourists alike. I'd been meaning to stop by for months; but it took a nice write-up on Thrillist to finally get me there. Well, not inside per se, except to pick up my carry-out order. Details, details. The end result was my first Proper Burger. The first of many, many Proper Burgers.

I can't lie: It was (a lot) better than I thought it would be. Loaded with flavor and toppings... so much so, I didn't even notice the lack of garlic aioli and gouda cheese (by choice.) This was a moist burger, perfectly cooked (medium) despite a non-negotiable choice of medium-rare vs. well-done. Despite the hard-line approach, I couldn't have been happier with how it turned out.

What's inside? Two generous patties of Creekstone Farms Angus beef, topped with charred red onions, crunchy garlic-dill pickles, strands of arugula/rocket and an insatiable Thai sweet chili sauce tucked inside a beautiful grilled brioche bun. It fits (in your hand) like a glove, almost miraculously (as if it was meant to be there.) The bun had plenty of give, but stayed perfectly in tact, despite sopping up a lot of juice. As far as buns go, it could be the best. The beef was superbly seasoned with just enough crunch to keep things interesting. I wouldn't tinker with it at all (outside of losing the cheese & mayo) but Duke's offers a half-dozen other sinful toppings such as avocado, bacon, egg or pate for a few bucks more. Seems like overkill to me, but imagine the moisture. OMG.

House-cut Fries

The Burger isn't cheap ($12) but you can get house-cut fries for a mere $3 extra. Unfortunately, those fries are American-style, instead of thick British "chips." Mine were warm (not hot) slightly flimsy and flavorless (zero seasoning.) Far from impressive. Then again, with a burger this good, they almost don't have to be.

Service was professional and quick. In fact, my order was ready in five minutes. That's right, five minutes. They have a few seats outside, on the Avenue; so I'll be sure to dine in (technically out) next time, late in the day... so I don't have to deal with the noisy Zoo crowd. The menu fits on one page, and features some tasty alternatives to the Proper Burger (Banh Mi, Posh B.L.T.A and an el Trasero sarnie that sounds out-of-this-world.) Question is, can I resist ordering the burger again? I kinda doubt it.