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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...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spray Beach Bagel and Deli

Where:  Spray Beach Bagel and Deli 2611 Long Beach Blvd Beach Haven, New Jersey
(609) 492-6800
What: The Cheese Steak Bagel 
Build:  Grilled Rib Eye Steak, sauteed onions, American cheese, Swiss bagel. NFK.
Comments: What can I say, awesome, awesome, awesome. 

It's not easy to find a cheese steak sandwich that's not disappointing in some way. That's why I am always a bit apprehensive about ordering one, especially in a resort area (Long Beach Island) where the majority of the businesses are seasonal and as a result it's usually hard to find really good food. (Let's face it, when most of us are on vacation, we seldom count our change, that's why we are on vacation in the first place, to enjoy a different atmosphere and spend and enjoy). 

Having said that, we sometimes encounter food establishments that are geared to serve mediocre food, charge a premium, then say: "thank you, we'll see you next year" as they are patting you on the ass and ushering you out the door.

This is not the case at SBB&D. They seem to actually care about the food they are handing you over the counter. I was eyeing the dozen-plus variety of bagels behind the counter and came across a bagel with Swiss cheese baked into the top of it. Done. I was just about to ask for a bacon, egg and cheese on that thing when my father-in-law suggested getting a cheese steak instead - this idea was genius I tell you, pure unadulterated genius. 

I promptly ordered one, poured myself a coffee and sat down outside with all the anticipation I had as a child on Christmas eve. I was surprised to see the proprietor, Mr. Russ, walking toward our table with our order. How nice was that? - the proprietor served us, talk about customer care.

Okay, that may have been way too much preamble, but I needed to set the stage for this nugget of goodness - now on to the sandwich. 

It was a stormy night in Maine, the waves were crashing on the rocks and after that third and final thunder clap shook the house I knew we were in trouble - oh, sorry, wrong story... on to the review...

The steak was a chopped rib eye, with a texture much like you get at any sandwich shop, HOWEVER, it was of a high quality and loaded with steak flavor. The onions were plenty, the way it should be with a cheese steak, but best of all, the cheese, the glorious creamy white American cheese - the ratio of cheese-to-steak was near 50/50 which in my book brings any ordinary cheese steak to epic proportions. And finally, the crispy Swiss cheese baked onto the top of the bagel hit this would-be single out of the park. This baby gets a solid 10/10 on the BC rating scale.

As usual, whenever I encounter a sandwich this good I stop back as soon as I can to check for consistency (all too often the second attempt is disappointing) but given the family run, caring aspect of this establishment, I'm sure the second will be every bit as good as the first.  

Now scroll down and look at some of the close-ups of this beauty...









































































Sunday, July 20, 2014

Good Food and Good Memories Still Served Up at Maggie's Town Tavern in Little Falls, NJ...

Where:  Maggie's Town Tavern, 10 Van Ness Ave, Little Falls, NJ 07424
(973) 256-7708   http://maggiestowntavern.com/
What: The Town Burger 
Build:  Half pound old fashioned "chop style" burger patty (?) served on a Kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, onion, American cheese and Taylor ham.
Comments: This burger had the potential to blow my doors off, but alas, is fell short. As with most restaurants, finding consistency in food quality, presentation and service is never easy.

Just a little more care in preparing this burger and it would have rated a 10/10. The meat was very fresh but it was a bit bland - it tasted like there were no seasonings added to the meat at all.  A little salt and pepper added before cooking goes a long way when I'm cooking, just sayin'.

Also, a pet peeve of mine - red onion. I don't like them - so when I read the description of the "Legendary" half pound burgers, I was very happy to see the printed words, "white onion".  I thought, "wow these people know a burger is better with a nice thick slice of a sweet Vidalia".  Love it. 
But no - no, no, no white onion, my burger was served with red onion. Now I ask you, why in the hell would you go out of your way to print on your menu, "WHITE ONION" when you could have just advertised "ONION"? My guess would be you're pretty serious about insisting on serving your "legendary burgers" with white onion - for whatever reason.  No matter how small an issue this is, the point is that I was told I was being sold one thing, but I was served another. It's ten minutes to three in the morning, I'm too upset to go on with this onion rant. 

On the lighter side, my roll and toppings were all very fresh and tasty. They could have and should have served this burger with 4 slices of Taylor ham instead of two which would really make this a stand-out burger, but now I'm really asking for too much. 

And this is not a dig on Maggie's, but what's with the green leafy lettuce replacing good old crunchy iceberg lettuce? They say Iceberg lettuce doesn't have all the nutrients that the leafy stuff does, so what? It's ten times better on any sandwich - and it's cheaper! The majority of people paying for meals nowadays grew up on Iceberg lettuce - give it to us!

Overall a good meal, I'll def be back. This beauty gets a 9/10. (yeah, I went off on the onion, but it was only an onion and the tables salt and pepper shakers helped the burger meat).

Lastly, I have no idea what an old fashioned "chop style" burger patty is.















My friend's crabcakes - she said they were good.





My wife's tenderloin - not so good. It was basically pot roast and she asked for a baked potato. 































Definitely a cozy joint...




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Awesome Pizza - From a Gas Station in Wayne, NJ !

CRAPPY PHOTO ALERT!

Where: Time Out Café, Wayne, NJ

What: The Classic and the San Francisco Pies.

Build: The Classic: classic red sauce, mozzarella.    The San Francisco: classic red sauce, artichokes, mozzarella, ricotta, chopped garlic.

Comment: Yes - this pizza came from a gas station... 

My only issue: Although the Time Out Cafe advertises the use of imported Italian Caputo flour, ("the best in the world") the dough is pre-made.  BUT - in spite of this, it was surprisingly good with no detectable pre-made flavor, in fact, the only giveaway was the dimpling on the bottom of the crust from sitting on a cooling grate at some dough factory. This for you pizza aficionado's is sacrilege, but when all other local pizza joints are charging upwards of 15 bucks for a large pie, this tasty beauty can be delivered to your doorstep for only $8.99 - that isn't a typo, it's really only $8.99 for the 18 inch plain pie. (Starting to forget about the dough aren't you...) And they are adamant about  their "no tipping required" statement on the menu. (but who the hell doesn't tip?)

The sauce had a homemade flavor and was not overpowered by dry seasonings. The cheese I'm guessing was a low moisture mozzarella and it was laid on thick. The brick oven supplied a perfect crispness and the rest was history. A very (very) good pie for the money.

Next up was the specialty pie: I ordered a 10 inch San Francisco. With artichokes, ricotta and chopped garlic added to the classic pie, this was another winner. The flavor of all the toppings blended perfectly and at $6.99, it was another home run. 

There you have it, two pizzas can be freshly cooked, delivered to your doorstep and enjoyed all for $17 and some odd change. 

PS...
The Time Out Cafe also offers 10 inch breakfast pizzas - (I'm going to have to check into this)























































Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Beach Haven Fishery, Long Beach Island, NJ, 21st & LBI Blvd. 609-492-4388

Where: The Beach Haven Fishery, Long Beach Island, NJ

What:  The Alaskan King Crab Eggs Benedict Black Angus Burger (Whew!)

Build:  1/2-pound Black Angus beef, house made Hollandaise sauce, wild Alaskan king crab, butter, black pepper, on a toasted ciabatta roll.

Comments: For all you die-hard burger folks who can't stand eccentric toppings on your burgers, believe me when I say, you have my empathy.  I'm a bare-bones, butter and burger, onion and pickle kinda guy, but in this decade of "burger wars", the avant garde can no longer be ignored (or avoided).  So please do continue to read my review of this land-meets-sea-meets-air concoction... Should you still be upset, just read the review and don't look at the photos... I'll understand. 

The photo progression shows the steps of construction of this bad boy with the exception of the whisking of the homemade Hollandaise sauce and the burger being char-broiled on the grill.

A double layer of American cheese on top of the Fishery's 1/2 pound nugget of Angus goodness was then topped with premium Alaskan king crab leg meat. A perfectly poached egg was then laid to rest on top and the whole shootin' match was covered with the sauce.
The freshly baked ciabatta roll had a perfectly crispy shell with a soft interior that encased the sandwich and effectively helped to retain juices and sauces.

From the first bite to the last, I was surprised by how well the flavors and textures blended. The crab, egg, burger, cheese and sauce came together under that crispy roll to form a masterpiece. The Hollandaise sauce was just acidic enough to counter the richness of the egg and blend with the cheese. This was a great burger and I look forward to the next and the next after that.  Due to the sloppy nature of this beast affecting its "eatability" this gets a 9.7 on the BC rating scale. (the first burger from the BHF that is not a 10/10)



(The lighting in the kitchen was slightly off as the burger was not cooked nearly as much as depicted in the photos)... 

















































Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Blu Alehouse, Route 23N Riverdale NJ (973) 831-4258

Where:  Blu Alehouse, Riverdale NJ


What: Blu Burger
Build:  House special blend patty, cheddar, bacon, mushrooms and onion.
Comments: This is the new restaurant/bar that replaced Rupperts on route 23 in Riverdale, NJ. As with all new restaurants, I had my doubts, but because of a very positive review from my daughter I remained optimistic – and it paid off. The burger was great.
Being served a burger at the exact temperature you ordered it is always a crap shoot, but the BAH did not disappoint. My burger came out a perfect medium served with nicely seasoned mushrooms and sautéed onions.
The bun was spot-on, as was the burger-to-bun ratio, and although the bun was brioche-like it did not have that slight sweetness to it that most brioche buns do, so I was very happy. I don't know what you think, but I'm really tired of the trendy brioche buns, I'd rather have a hearty pretzel or potato bun – and I'll never understand why sesame seed buns are rarely seen outside of the fast food industry.
Check out my autopsy shot of the burger, you can really tell from the photo how great that bun was.
All in all, there was a lot going on flavor-wise with this burger. All the distinctly different flavored toppings that came together in that first bite said it all. I'll definitely be back again to check on consistency... until then, I'll continue to remain optimistic.  

This Blu beauty gets a 9.4 on the BC rating scale. 
Next up on my list of burgers to eat at the Blu Alehouse are the Maine Burger and the Texas Burger (our waitress walked by us with the Texas burger and I was so floored by the sheer magnitude of its size that I had to stop her and ask what it was).