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No Bull Burger Purist - Born and raised in NJ, the heart of the tri-state area and home to the oldest (and best) burger joints in the country. I don't need all the frilly toppings, happy servers or trendy decor, just a good burger...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Quinta Steakhouse, Pearl River, NY

Where: Quinta Steakhouse, Pearl River, NY

What: Black Angus Hamburger

Build: Black Angus burger with American cheese, lettuce and raw onion.
I took the tomato off, I can't enjoy any tomato that isn't garden-fresh and blood-red. I mean, if it doesn't even smell like a tomato, what's the point?

Comments: I was very happy with this burger, and you will be too. The lunch menu features 10 prix fixe entrees along with a soup or salad and coffee - all for $10 bucks. Ya can't beat that with a stick. 

My one and only gripe: They served me an undercooked burger and I had to send it back for an extended stay on the grill. I usually never send food back, but this burger was just plain raw.
  
With that out of the way, I would compare this burger in size and flavor to Bobby's Burger Palace. The burger is made from very fresh hamburger meat (after all, it is a steakhouse), which is loosely packed and served with the mouth-watering aroma of steak. The sesame seed bun was fresh and as soft as cotton. Looking back, I wish I had stuffed some potato chips on top.

I'm a burger guy to the very end and rarely bother with fries, but when I read the menu description: "the best french fries in Rockland County" it definitely piqued my curiosity. And although my experience with burger joints in Rockland County is still in it's infancy, I'd say the fries are definitely a contender for some kind of competition. They were crisp and cooked perfectly (not underdone like most places), but the show-stopper for me was that they tasted like they were fried in steak fat. Yup... they were definitely unique. 

This steakhouse bad boy gets an 8.8* out of 10. It should have been a bit larger (as should the burgers at Bobby's), and Quinta should offer more interesting toppings...that's what hurt the "overall taste" on my rating scale.
*I couldn't give points off for the burger I sent back because I didn't taste it.






















































Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Taco Bell, Montvale, NJ

Where: Taco Bell, Montvale, NJ

What: Waffle Taco (sausage),  A.M. CrunchWrap (sausage),  Cinnabon Delights

Builds
Taco Bell Description - Waffle Taco: A warm waffle wrapped around a delicious sausage patty and fluffy scrambled eggs topped with cheese and served with a side of sweet syrup. 
My Description: Waffle, sausage patty, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese.

Taco Bell Description - A.M. CrunchWrap: All the classic breakfast tastes like fluffy scrambled eggs, a golden crispy hash brown, real cheddar cheese and a delicious sausage patty, wrapped up in a warm flour tortilla and grilled, so it's good to go.
My Description: Scrambled eggs, sausage patty, cheese, spicy sauce (mild), hash brown, toasted flour wrap.

Taco Bell Description - Cinnabon Delights: Warm, golden bite-sized pastries filled with Cinnabon frosting and covered with Makara cinnamon sugar.
My Description: Cinnamon doughnut holes filled with Cinnabon frosting.

Comments: Two words: "Exceeded expectations".  I know, I know, it's fast food, but it was breakfast, and it was a fast food chain trying to do something new so I had to check it out.

Although most items on Taco Bell's menu consist of the monotonous reuse of a few core ingredients over and over again, fans of Taco Bell don't seem to care. Perhaps the ingredient combinations make patrons feel like they are getting a custom-made meal. Who knows? But one thing I can tell you is that just a few breakfast ingredients combined in a host of different ways definitely works, and works big. 

I was very happy to see that the Waffle Taco was exactly what I'd hoped it would be; a crispy waffle with a soft inside, similar to the texture of their Chalupas tortilla. The eggs actually had real egg flavor and the sausage was very tasty. The cheese tasted like real cheddar and the whole thing put together was really quite good. 

As for the A.M. CrunchWrap, it too was a very nice combination of breakfast flavors and textures. The added hash brown and (mild) spicy sauce were both great additions to the scrambled eggs, cheese and sausage. (There was a lot going on in that toasted wrap). BTW, don't expect the hash brown to be "crispy", it's pretty darn mushy from being in the wrap.

And finally, the Dessert:
The Cinnabon Delights were much better than expected. They were crispy, with molten frosting inside and the Makara sugar added a unique flavor.

One thing I need to mention is that we ordered three sausage Waffle Taco's and three bacon A.M. CrunchWraps - the Waffle Tacos were fine, but the Crunchwraps came to us with sausage instead of bacon. We were too hungry to deal with sending them back, so we ate them. In retrospect I was pretty ticked-off at the time, but after tasting how good everything was I softened quite a bit, after all, it's a fast food joint - we weren't there for the service. 

Yes, we will be back, this was an excellent diversion from all the fast food burger joint breakfast offerings.





Our friend, Captain Obvious (before costume and makeup)










Waffle Taco !








































































Sunday, March 16, 2014

Steve's Burgers, Garfield, NJ

Where: Steve's Burgers, Garfield, NJ

What: Cheeseburger

Build: Fresh beef patty, raw onion, pickle, American cheese, hamburger bun.

Comment: Since my review of Steve's Burgers in December of 2012, (http://billcianciburgerreviews.blogspot.com/2012/12/steves-burgers-garfield-nj.html) 
I can say with full confidence that the place is still every bit as good as it was on my first visit. From the awesome fresh burgers to the crispy fries, to the fantastic hospitality, Steve's is an all-around great American burger joint. And Steve's sons, Steve Jr. and Robert could not be nicer, or better at what they do. 
Halfway through our meal, Steve Jr. brought us out a sample of his ridiculously tender corned beef and a few deep fried Oreos. Everything was quite amazing (and I'm a sucker for homemade coleslaw)... Awesome, just awesome.
As you walk into Steve's, the mere smell of the place will knock down any dietary defenses you may be harboring. The sheer weight of these burgers coupled with the fact that you can't pick them up without dripping juices everywhere makes you very happy that you stopped in. I was very glad to see that the quality has not changed. The only thing I thought was odd, was that the burger did not have cheese above and below this time, a detail that so impressed me on my maiden visit that I made a point of mentioning it in my first review. I'm hoping it was just an oversight, as the double cheese for me, was a key contributor to the greatness of the burgers. And as I said back in 2012, "the more I ate, the more I was thinking: "if Steve keeps this up, he'll be on a "best of" burger show very soon - move over White Manna and the like, Steve's is cooking some of the tastiest burgers in North Jersey."
Occasionally, I speak to Hamburger Legend (and all around regular guy), George Motz via email and I've mentioned that he needs to get to Steve's one of these days because he doesn't know what he's missing, so if he ever shows up, I'm hoping I had something to do with it. Oh, and another thing, one of these days I'm going to sneak a photo behind the illustrious "curtain" to show my readers where all the magic happens. Nuff said, I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking. 
10/10 Awesome job guys - Can't wait to come back...






Who could possibly pass by a burger place that looks like this and not stop in?








Somebody needs a burger NOW!




Grape Plunge, a perfect compliment to any cheeseburger. 




My first review of Steve's back in 2012 hangs on the wall when you first walk in, (brings a tear to my eye).





Everybody's man, Robert....





Imagine how much business would increase with this sign posted outside...










Yeah, it's true... Keep scrolling down, you'll see them...










Just look at these options!





Impatient little man waiting for his burger...













Steve's corned beef melted in my mouth - incredible!










Deep fried Oreo's were not greasy at all.... awesome.















Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
Seriously, this is where all the magic happens...

Always sad to leave Steve's....
Don't worry buddy, we'll be back soon!






Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Double Cheeseburger Pizza, Papa John's, Park Ridge, NJ

Where: Papa John's, Park Ridge, NJ
What: The Double Cheeseburger Pizza.
Build: “Zesty" burger sauce covered with a double layer of 100% real beef, dill pickle slices, fresh cut Roma tomatoes and 100% real cheese made from mozzarella. The buzz words being "made from" which means it's not 100% mozzarella - (SOP for the big pizza chains).
Comments: Let me begin by saying, this was the first time I've ever eaten (anything) from Papa John's menu.
What can I say, I should have listened to my family and friends.  I got caught up in all the media buzz, after all, they were advertising a cheeseburger pizza!  I'd like to grab Papa John's founder and current CEO, John Schnatter, and shake some sense into him. I mean, without much effort, this pizza could easily have been a winner. But I'm sorry to say, it's quite the loser.
After opening the box I got my hopes up. The pie was visually appealing and smelled like a fast food burger. I was getting excited. The first slice pulled away easily and I instantly began to salivate. I noticed the generous portion of dill pickles and the underlying tomato sauce alternate that resembled McDonald's Big Mac sauce. Again, I was stoked, but bite after bite had me searching again and again for burger flavor that never came. Even when I zeroed in on two or three of those sausage-textured pieces of "beef" there was still no burger flavor to satisfy my taste buds. It was like eating a Big Mac without the meat. And given the scarcity of the meat, it's just plain silly that they are advertising a "double layer" of it.  
Once in a while I'd get a blast of dill pickle and then a little zing of tomatoes (I could do without the tartness of hot-house tomatoes) however, the overall flavor just fell flat. And where the hell were the onions? I ask you, as a fellow burger lover and member of the human race, what in God's name is a cheeseburger without some form of onion? Sauteed, fried, raw or caramelized - something! This was a travesty of toppings. 
The crust, however, was not as awful, it actually had a real-tasting pizza crust texture to it which wasn't bad for a pizza chain restaurant. The cheese was mostly flavorless and the burger "sauce" was a bit too sweet for me. Again, I kept thinking this could have been a blockbuster for P J's if only a bit more effort (and ingredients) went into its creation and execution. EPIC CRAP FAIL! on the BC rating scale.  
*All you fast food pizza chains might want to take a look at what a small (577 location) pizza joint is doing with it's pizzas. The pies at Chuck "E" Cheese are surprisingly (and consistently) fresh - and more importantly, they taste like a good "real" pizza.