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The Luxury Hamburger Fad

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  • The Luxury Hamburger Fad

    There was a write-up in the Globe the other day talking about the proliferation in Boston of hamburgers that cost $20. There are at least a half-dozen of them that are well known and are features of their respective restaurants. They run the gamut from an all-prime burger at a steakhouse that uses trimmings from their steak primals to a gastro-pub that gets the beef from a local farm, and uses cave-aged Vermont cheddar. Then there are the ones that feature a little foie gras.

    I'm a big burger fan, and I've had a few of these. A couple have been really freaking great, and a couple have left me feeling like I could have had just as much fun for half the money.

    I think the beauty of them is that $20 is actually a comparatively cheap way to enjoy a bite to eat at a top steakhouse, but it's still $20 for a freaking burger.

    Since I know there are some burger nuts on here, and definitely a bunch of professional eaters, what do folks think. Anyone ever had one of these over-the-top burgers?
    Manus haec inimica tyrannis ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem.

  • #2
    I wouldn't eat a $20 burger!
    Heck, I wouldn't even eat a $20 tenderloin!
    Have a very blessed day!

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    • #3
      I love hamburgers, have eaten them at all kinds of places but it will be an absolutely frigid day in Hades before I EVER pay $20.00 for a burger....I don't care how good it is.
      ​a bad day at the race track beats a good day at work

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      • #4
        I have spent $20 many times for a hamburger all aorund the world. Mostly in Hiltons or Hyatts where I know i can get a good one when there would be no other place to have one. Around here in Cologne Germany there are two places for a good hamburger, Hard Rock Cafe or the Hilton.Both are around 14€. All I need is good meat, a fresh bun, lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup and mustard.

        The best hamburger I ever had was in the Jackelope on 6th St. in Austin.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by RS2 View Post
          I have spent $20 many times for a hamburger all aorund the world. Mostly in Hiltons or Hyatts where I know i can get a good one when there would be no other place to have one. Around here in Cologne Germany there are two places for a good hamburger, Hard Rock Cafe or the Hilton.Both are around 14€. All I need is good meat, a fresh bun, lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup and mustard.

          The best hamburger I ever had was in the Jackelope on 6th St. in Austin.
          Are you a native German or transplanted American?
          ​a bad day at the race track beats a good day at work

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Tabernerus View Post
            There was a write-up in the Globe the other day talking about the proliferation in Boston of hamburgers that cost $20. There are at least a half-dozen of them that are well known and are features of their respective restaurants. They run the gamut from an all-prime burger at a steakhouse that uses trimmings from their steak primals to a gastro-pub that gets the beef from a local farm, and uses cave-aged Vermont cheddar. Then there are the ones that feature a little foie gras.

            I'm a big burger fan, and I've had a few of these. A couple have been really freaking great, and a couple have left me feeling like I could have had just as much fun for half the money.

            I think the beauty of them is that $20 is actually a comparatively cheap way to enjoy a bite to eat at a top steakhouse, but it's still $20 for a freaking burger.

            Since I know there are some burger nuts on here, and definitely a bunch of professional eaters, what do folks think. Anyone ever had one of these over-the-top burgers?
            I'm pretty sure you can get a $20 burger at Lucas Oil Stadium or Verizon Wireless Music Center. Probably not what you're talking about, though...

            I still think the best burger on the planet is Hardee's Monster Thick Burger. I never eat it, though, too many calories.

            I LOVE Vermont sharp cheddar. It's damn near impossible to find around Indy.

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            • #7
              There is something I miss that used to be in Chicago, it was a place off Rush Street on Oak street. It was called Acorn On Oak. It was a piano bar. Every once in a while, after attending a musical in downtown Chicago we would go to this place. We would get a cup of onion soup, with a half inch of cheese on top. Then get the burger, It was about three and a half inches across. The burger filled it and was about inch and a half thick. Geatest burger I have ever had.

              On the outside were two newspaper clippings. One from The Chicago Tribune, and one from The Chicago Sun-TImes. Both declared that this was the very best place to get a burger. They were right.

              --

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              • #8
                There is this bit of advice given to travelers on the road. If you go to a restaurant and are not sure what to order, get a burger. Since that is the most sold item, you are assured that it will be fresh.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by indyracefan View Post
                  Are you a native German or transplanted American?
                  American. Germans have no clue what a good Hamburger is. For cryin out loud, they eat them with forks and knives. The Netherlands have pretty good burgers. But they deep fry the meat. Belgians can make them OK. I had a great one in Luxemburg once. And there a a few good places around Ramstein AFB. I actually had a good one in Croatia. The owner of the place had lived in America before. England you can forget it.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RS2 View Post
                    American. Germans have no clue what a good Hamburger is. For cryin out loud, they eat them with forks and knives. The Netherlands have pretty good burgers. But they deep fry the meat. Belgians can make them OK. I had a great one in Luxemburg once. And there a a few good places around Ramstein AFB. I actually had a good one in Croatia. The owner of the place had lived in America before. England you can forget it.
                    Trust me I can relate, my ex-wife was a native German.
                    ​a bad day at the race track beats a good day at work

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                    • #11
                      Anthony Bourdain points out in his latest book "Medium Raw" that Starbucks actually came upon this idea. They realized that (paraphrasing here) Americans WANTED to spend $5 on a cup of coffee to feel better about themselves and also to be seen doing so. He obviously compared it to the $25 burger craze.

                      He then went on, in the only way Anthony Bourdain can, to rant and rave about burgers.

                      The only $25 I have ever spent on 1 sandwich for for an abaloni sandwich at the Log Cabin in San Jose. Darn near worth it, too.
                      ...---...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by NoviVespa View Post
                        There is this bit of advice given to travelers on the road. If you go to a restaurant and are not sure what to order, get a burger. Since that is the most sold item, you are assured that it will be fresh.
                        I've gotten food poisoning three times from restaurants. Twice it was undercooked burgers. The other time was egg salad.

                        Fresh <> bacteria free.

                        Deep fried is safest...

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                        • #13
                          I think in a most cases, you're paying for one (or more) of three things:

                          1.) Ambiance or location. There's something to be said for sitting in a lounge surrounded by cherry wood, leather, and brass. Especially if the guy next to you eating his burger is the head of [insert team or company here]. Basically, it's a nice-place-no-riff-raff tax.

                          2.) Notable ingredient. You add foie gras or quail egg to a burger, the price is going up, and there's not much you can do about it.

                          3.) Maniacal dedication. The chef is a burger nut. He wants his pub to have the very best burger on Earth. He has a local butcher buy local beef and grind a custom mix of short rib, chuck, brisket, and a little flap meat each morning. He experiments over a few months to find the exact ration of milk and egg to produce a tender, almost creamy bun that can hold up to the patty while still being tender. He knows an old lady in Vermont that makes cheddar the old way, and ages it in a cave on her property. Bonus points if she's not actually set up to legally produce food for sale. He buys his bacon from a local heirloom pork farmer, and smokes and cures it himself in-house. He uses yellow heirloom tomatoes and cooks down the sweet onion until it's almost marmalade. In the end, none of these things are that notable on their own. They're not foie gras or the egg of a bird we don't normally think of. They're just beef, a bun, and some cheese and bacon. But the effort and focus and insistence of perfection make them so much more, and that costs money.

                          So I can completely understand HOW a hamburger costs $20. But my problem is that for $10-12 (in Boston dollars), you can get a pretty damn good burger at any number of cool pubs and restaurants around here. And they'll have Vermont cheddar and cooked down onions and quality beef on a nice toasted bun, too. Maybe none of those elements will be overly special, but they'll be solid, and you'll enjoy it, and for the same $20 you can add in a beer and a tip. So I guess I understand HOW, but not WHY.
                          Manus haec inimica tyrannis ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by crispy View Post
                            I've gotten food poisoning three times from restaurants. Twice it was undercooked burgers. The other time was egg salad.

                            Fresh <> bacteria free.

                            Deep fried is safest...
                            Yeah, I typically get my burgers medium unless I'm grinding the beef at home. I MIGHT make an exception maybe once a year, usually for something like a buffalo or kobe burger, but yeah, at least medium.
                            Manus haec inimica tyrannis ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem.

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                            • #15
                              If I drop $20 on a burger, it better come with a hot naked chick as the serving platter.

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