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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...

Drinkin' Buddies

Drinkin' Buddies

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Pleasant Surprise at a Restaurant Chain...

Bahama Breeze
101 State Rt. 23 
Wayne, NJ 07470


I'm guessing the burger patty size to be around 6-0z., bib lettuce, tomato, Portobello mushroom cap, two slices American cheese, cooked white onion, and dill pickle slices on a toasted brioche bun

Let me start by saying, it's very difficult for me to have even a slightly elevated expectation that my food from a chain restaurant might be tasty, fresh, have low sodium, and not come from a plastic bag or a freezer. For these reasons, I lower my expectation bar the minute I enter a chain restaurant. I think to myself, "The burger will be just okay, so I'll deal with it.” After all, I was only here because my wife loves the chicken tortilla soup. Which by the way, was excellent. With that said...

I ordered a build-your-own-burger and in hindsight, I should have ordered one of their specialty wood-grilled burgers. What was I thinking? However, I was pleasantly surprised to be served a very decent burger. I'm sure this was a pre-made patty of some mass produced Black Angus variety supplied by Cisco, US Foods, or some other food supply conglomerate.
But I have to tell you, it was good. And they cook to order which is the way it should be. 

My burger was served with the cheese not completely melted, but by the time I finished with photos the cheese had melted thoroughly – and unfortunately my burger went from medium to medium well (this is my biggest complaint about blogging). 

Although the meat cooked a bit too far from sitting, it was still juicy and had lots of good flavor. The mushroom and other toppings were very fresh and also flavorful, and the brioche bun was not too sweet as some can be, so I was a happy camper. 

Although this burger was very good, and although its quality ranking among some of the latest QSR's would most likely take it out of the running completely, I really did not expect to eat a burger this tasty from a place called "Bahama Breeze.”

"A" for effort and execution BB.  

This burger gets a 8.0/10 on the BC rating scale.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Brass Ring Pub - North Palm Beach, Florida

The Brass Ring Pub
200 US Highway #1
North Palm Beach, Florida

The Mushroom Burger

1/2 lb. burger, mushrooms, lots of American cheese, sesame seed bun.

A fantastic burger at a great local pub in North Palm Beach. The Brass Ring is a local joint you can walk into and smell the grilled meat cooking right away. Three steps further in and you know you picked a great place to eat, and by the time you're seated, you feel like you belong.

I can't say enough good about the burgers here. The patties are consistently high quality meat and always cooked perfectly to order. The toppings are fresh and serving sizes are ample. The buns are lightly toasted which also adds flavor to this great burger.

This Brass Ring burger gets a 9.5/10 on the BC rating scale.

Click on photos to enlarge...

A little side that my father-in-law and I split. 
A smoked tavern ham sandwich - awesome!

Brass Ring burgers are Uncle Tony approved.

Friday, April 10, 2015

**READER REVIEW** - Bella's Burger Shack

Bella's Burger Shack
52 South Finley Ave. Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

Double Cheeseburger with cooked onion and pickles on a hamburger bun.

Double patties with cooked white onion, American cheese, and pickles on a hamburger bun.

Totally disappointing experience.
The place looked solid from the outside – I did not get the burger chain semi-fast food feel from the outside, nor the interior. It felt more like a sandwich shop from down the shore, and it was packed.

They kept to the basics on the menu, which I liked, as it demonstrated a focus on their core business.
There was a really young girl behind the counter (very nice) and two fellas cooking at the grill – my strong assumption is that these two guys got paid in cash and not by choice if you know what I mean. Extremely friendly and pleasant wait staff – it was all working.

All of the food that came out while we were waiting looked really good, in fact, we started fantasizing about what to order the next time we visited Bella’s. Then our food came...

First, our food arrived in three shifts. The waitress had no idea who ordered what – my friend’s Black and Blue Burger came to the table seated next to us. My Double with pickles and sautéed onion went to some other table, and the last of our trio’s went to yet another table. Look, I didn’t eat anything but a banana all day and had given up burgers for lent. I was as hungry as a lion and hadn’t had a burger for 40 days! So, my expectations were high for this meal.
Once I opened the wrapper I realized that nobody asked how I wanted the burger cooked… because I definitely would not have said extra well-done. 

The thing was 100% gray and they cheaped out on the onions.  The burgers were made by hand, which would normally be cool, but they were not very flat, so the two thick charcoal briquette-shaped meat rockets made the burger difficult to hold, and they were too uneven to bite in the bun. I really, really, really, tried to like it. BUT...

The meat was seasoned – and not just with salt and pepper, but some kind of faint Montreal Steak Seasoning type of garbage. By the end of the burger, I had to dip it in the pool of ketchup that was there for my fries.

Trying to be positive, my last comment at the table was, “At least they put a lot of pickles on it.” REALLY?? That is the best statement I could make about the burger? If my positive spin is regarding the number of pickles they added, we have problems.

In the car, my colleague summed it up best: “I would go back there if a big group was going, but I would never go there by myself.”

Under my circumstances, all they had to do was put in a semi-reasonable effort and my head would have popped off with joy. Instead, it was a crap fail.  

Nice job by Chris Cozic. "You've given us some great insight of Bella's poor quality and management. Thanks for a great review. I'll be sure to pass it along"

Monday, April 6, 2015

Thin Crust Pizza at Nellie's Place

Nellie's Place
9 Franklin Turnpike
Waldwick, NJ

The 14 inch bar pie.

Plain Bar Pie

Nellie's is definitively a contender in the thin crust pizza competition in northern NJ. Nellie's holds her own in the face of her rivals, i.e. seasoned greats such as Kinchley's, Star Tavern, and Lombardi's, just to name a few.

One thing is for sure – I'd rather review burgers than pizza. Burger people are a proud lot, but pizza people are bat sh*t crazy. They will actually get into a fight over who's got the best pie. I'm cringing just thinking of all the people I'm about to piss off. 

I like my bar pie to be orange in color indicating that the sauce and cheese have joined together in perfect proportions. 
This for me is a great bar pie – when the cheese is smooth and creamy and you're not sure where the cheese ends and the sauce begins. But hey, it's all a matter of personal taste.

Alas, I didn't get that with Nellie's, which as I said, is a good bar pie with one of the best pub atmospheres you will ever get. And the wait staff is nothing shy of awesome.

Click on photos to Enlarge...

Remember the pizza freaks I was talking about?

Great Staff at Nellie's!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mustache Bill's Burger - LBI

Mustache Bill's Diner
8th Street, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006
(609) 494-0155

The Bacon Blue Cheeseburger

Fresh burger patty, tons of blue cheese, bacon, dill pickle, on a plain hamburger bun.

If you're ever near Long Beach Island on the Jersey shore, you need to stop by Mustache Bill's…but get there before the peak summer season like we did or you'll be waiting in the parking lot for a seat. Mustache Bill's was brought into the TV spotlight for his pancake artistry by Guy Fieri on an episode of Triple D, but I'm here to tell you, there are a host of other menu items that were overlooked – the Bacon Blue Cheeseburger is one of them.

The fresh ground meat was cooked to a perfect medium-rare (while I was taking photos it continued to cook until the temperature was medium - bummer ). The blue cheese was a few steps beyond ample and the bacon freshly cooked hot and crisp, something you really don't see in a Jersey diner anymore. I topped mine off with old-fashioned thinly sliced dill pickles that came with the platter. The pickles provided a perfectly sharp contrast to the richness of the blue cheese, and whether they were put on my plate for that reason, or just because they are a staple with any cheeseburger, I have to tell you, it was an absolutely delicious combination of flavors.

The shoestring fries (or string fries as Bill's staff calls them) are cut on premises and are quite good. I'm not a big fan of fries so I'm usually pretty hard on them when it comes to taste tests, but these were very good, especially when dipping them in all the blue cheese that was dripping off my burger. Nice.

This beauty gets a 9.4/10 on the BC rating scale.

Click on any photo to enlarge...