Sunday, July 23, 2006

Burger History 101

23 July 2006-
Joe's Cable Car Restaurant: 4320 Mission Street at Silver in San Francisco
Cost: $14.00 (bacon cheeseburger, fries extra)

Image Source: blogger's own

Ever wonder where burgers originated from? Apparently, the history is still under dispute, but Joe's Cable Car Restaurant has some interesting burger propaganda / history leaflets to read while you wait for your order. There was a lot of information to comprehend, but one theory was that ground chuck was invented as a means to ingest meat for toothless individuals. Joe's claims to do things the old fashioned way in regards to burger preparation. The restaurant publicizes that "Joe grinds his own fresh chuck daily" in a big block-lettered sign on top of the diner. They also proclaim to serve honest 4, 6 or 8 ounce ground chuck patties.

There's been a lot of hype surrounding Joe's, and my expectations were high. Also, be warned, Joe's prices aren't hamburger shack prices (as the decor might lead you to believe). Joe's is probably one of the most expensive burgers I've surveyed to date. I ordered a 6 oz. bacon cheeseburger with swiss, "medium-rare" (which is the default grilling preference at Joe's) and a small order of fries. The prices are a little ironic, considering they serve the burgers on plastic plates and they utilize disposable plastic utensils for their place settings.

The burger and fries came on two separate plastic plates. However, I really want to commend Joe's on this decision. One of the main reasons why I usually consume my fries before the burger is to avoid having them soaked with burger juices during the course of the meal. Therefore, I went ahead and indulged in my burger first.

There are few words that can accurately describe the handling of a Joe's burger. The patty is shaped to the exact size of the bun, and the ground chuck is distributed to an even consistency: high and wide. The handling feels pretty "solid". The burger assembly makes the patty feel neatly tucked into the bun. As mentioned, there are few words to describe this feeling; I'm actually having a lot of difficulty properly conveying this in writing.

Unfortunately, the bun preparation was a different story. I would have presumed that if Joe goes through such a meticulous burger preparation process, that the bun preparation would be addressed with the same attention to detail. My bun was only slightly toasted, and the inside of the bun was still a little untoasted. In contrast to the chuck grilling preference, I actually prefer a thoroughly toasted bun.

The burger experience was pretty unique. I don't think I've ever eaten a burger quite like it. Joe's tenderizing process is really distinguishable compared to other patties. But I kind of wish the actual patty had a little more flavor, it was a little bland. Perhaps this might be attributed to Joe's claim to serve extra lean patties. Also, the burger was served at a pretty honest medium-rare. It could have been a little more rare (to my liking), however, the ground chuck actually produced a significant amount of burger juice.

Verdict: Joe's Cable Car Restaurant is a very unique and special burger experience that I recommend for all burger enthusiasts. There's no special sauce or flashy frills, but the discerning burger enthusiast might appreciate the preparation / love used in preparing each burger.

Quite frankly, it's a really honest tasting burger at a not so honest price. It's also obvious that Joe focuses all of his attention just on the ground chuck, and seems to neglect the other aspects of the burger, such as the fries, bun and place settings.

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