We had the distinct pleasure of being joined by guest reviewer Chad Ward, author of An Edge in the Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Knives (William Morrow Cookbooks) and the upcoming Meat, Salt & Time: The Art and Science of Making Authentic Sausages, Salamis and Hams at Home. As you’ll see, Chad’s a burgiatrist from the wrong side of the tracks…
I don’t have a fancy burgiatry degree like my esteemed burger brethren. I earned my grill marks the hard way—in the unlicensed burger pits of Hong Kong and Malaysia, in sweaty dens of iniquity where burgermeisters from around the world test their mettle against up-and-coming reviewers in a nightly free-for-all cage match that leaves only one man—and one burger—standing.
The burger at Chow would not have made it past round one.
At first, the Classic burger looked like a contender. The lettuce and tomato were refreshingly fresh, and the bacon was crisp, but the burger faltered early. The patty was bland and flavorless, with none of the rich mineral meatiness of top-notch beef treated with care. Compounding the problem was the bun—stale and dry, past its prime. I’d ordered the Classic medium rare. I like my burger pink in the middle. However, what I got was uncomfortably rare, barely warm in the center. While I suffered no ill effects, this was the final blow. The risk-to-reward wasn’t worth it.
This burger deserves no more than a 2.5, downgraded to a 2.25 for the stale bun. Knockout in round one.
Chad’s rating: 2.25 out of 5.
As the burgiatrist among us who’s known to order the “weird” burgers, it was obvious what I’d order at Chow: Bacon? Check. Fried egg? Check. Duke’s mayo? Check. The Flatline Burger. Check.
I give Chow a lot of credit for what they tried to do here. The fried egg was over-medium, which works well as a burger topping; everything holds together until you bite into the yolk, at which point it’s eggy goodness all over. The bacon (traditional, none of this applewood smoked nonsense) was cooked to order and never saw a heat lamp.
Alas, the Flatline’s patty and bun—what really counts—fell flat. The patty should have been cooked a few minutes more. The flavor was average at best. The bun was too bready and fell apart too quickly. A solid potato bun would have held up.
In the end, the Flatline was almost a good burger. The patty was almost cooked to order. The bun almost held together. The toppings almost compensated for the burger’s failings. I almost gave this burger a 3.
Michael’s rating: 2.75 out of 5.
I was sure, when the Chow BBQ Burger was placed before me, that it held a one-way ticket to Four-berg. Maybe even Four-and-a-half-bury. It just looked good, with its golden bun, rough-edged patty, and crisp whole-leaf lettuce gleaming as they pulled into the station.
After one bite, however, I knew the burger could go no farther than Three-and-a-half-shire—maybe even Three-ford. The bun was tired and listless, having traveled for at least two days from what might have been the suburbs of Five-kirk.
After three bites, the patty proved underdone and crumbly, perhaps having leapt off the grill at the wrong stop. It was clear, sadly, that this choo-choo was chugging straight to Two-town.
Scott’s review: 2.25 out of 5.
Scott Blumenthal and Michael Marino are The Straight Beef, professional burgiatrists who review, rate and rank Triangle-area burgers on their award-winning blog. You can read more about The Straight Beef, including their education and scholarship, ratings system, and burger categorization method here.