Friday, January 7, 2011

Notes on trendy burger places

Okay, so it is probably ridiculous to admit that I have lived in Arlington for over a year -- and in greater D.C. for two -- and never been to Ray's Hellburger before tonight. The only excuses that I can claim are that 1)when I used to come to Arlington for meetings of my fellowship program in 2008-9, it was always so swamped that my friends and I decided not to bother with the lines and wound up going to Five Guys instead and 2)that Pnin has been avoiding red meat recently. But I am not bound by his anti-red-meat concerns, he is away in San Francisco giving aid and comfort to the enemy at AALS, and I did not feel like making an elaborate dinner for one person.

So I figured I'd check it out. What's good enough for Dmitri Medvedev is good enough for me. Even if Barack Obama does not understand unimportant things like health care and the Constitution and judging, he does understand actually important things, like the fact that D.C. residents are wusses when it comes to snow. Maybe cheeseburgers could be among the other important things about which he is right.

I tried a Lil Devil with Brie, mushrooms, onions, and garlic. The waiter recommended medium rare, which I think comes out a touch too pink. I'd try medium next time. Still, the seasonings are lovely, and the meat was juicy, delicious, and succulent. The buns are good, too. I suspect BGR in Old Town may be a notch better, but it's close enough that I'd need a blind taste test to be sure.

Good burgers are also something that can be imitated relatively easily at home. It's true that getting good meat -- the expensive grass-fed stuff -- is key. I've never been hard-core enough to experiment with purchasing different cuts of steak and grinding them up myself in the food processor, although it might be worth experimenting with before some future picnic. Getting the buns right is probably trickier. I imagine that the right homemade recipe is probably vastly better than most supermarket varieties. But I've never seen one by which I've been intrigued.

Their sweet potato fries are surprisingly meh. I've made better myself. I recommend the Cooks Illu$ recipe.

The chocolate milkshakes are heavenly. But they're giant. I wouldn't order one just for myself again. I could safely share with at least one other person, possibly two.

In some ways, it's lovely that D.C. and environs are becoming such an interesting restaurant city. That is, I'm certainly benefiting personally. But I fear that the thriving restaurant culture reflects the increasing concentration of wealth -- and with it, the increasing power of government -- in our increasingly imperial fair city. Apres nous, le deluge?

1 comment:

  1. There's also a BGR on Lee Highway, by the Italian Store.