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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...

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Drinkin' Buddies

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Step into 1955 at The White Dotte Dairy Bar in Vincentown, NJ

White Dotte Dairy Bar
2345 US-206
Vincentown, NJ 08088

Their 1952 original: The White Dotter Burger

Whiz, ketchup, mustard, diced onion, thick cut pickles, sesame seed roll.

Talk about stepping back in time... 
This was my third trip to The White Dotte and my burger was every bit as good as my first. Just a great old-fashioned flavor coupled with a great old-fashioned American atmosphere. Doesn't get any better than The White Dotte Dairy Bar for a burger and a vanilla malted. 

Once again, the burger gets high marks with a 9/10 on the BC rating scale.

Here is my previous review of the White Dotte Dairy Bar's burger...

(Scroll to the bottom to check out the photos of my sons Fried Chicken and Waffles platter)...

And finally, my fourth trip to The White Dotte will be to sample the their Breakfast Burger:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Houston's - The burger is very good, but...

Houston's Restaurant
1 Riverside Square Mall #181
Hackensack, NJ 07601

Dish #1 
Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

Lump crab meat, Pommery mustard sauce, hand-cut French fries, house-made coleslaw.

These crab cakes compelled me to invent a new Acronym: TDF (To-Die-For).

Not much else to say... just look at the photos and you'll agree with me based on the visuals alone. The taste of these beauties was equally magnificent. The sweet lump crab meat was pan-fried in butter to achieve that crispy, seasoned breadcrumb top and bottom, and the Pommery mustard sauce added a sharpness that contrasted perfectly with the richness of the crab meat and butter.

Houston's hits this dish out of the park. 10/10

See my comments on this housemade cole slaw in my next review below...

Dish #2
The California Burger

Approximately a 7oz. fresh-ground chuck patty, Jack cheese, arugula, avocado, red onion, brioche.

What is there to say about a burger whose humble beginnings were only a few hours prior to cooking? Houston's grinds their burgers every day, eliminating fluctuations in taste and texture and maximizing their ability to consistently serve up one of the best burgers you could ever ask for. Although my burger was fresh and cooked perfectly to my order, it was not without a few flaws. 

1)      My last visit to Houston's was quite a few years ago and I distinctly remember the patty being much larger. 

2)     My wife pointed out to me (I let her have the first bite), the fact that she thought there was bacon on the burger. Being as I didn't order my burger with bacon I checked under the lid, no bacon. I took a bite and discovered a fairly strong wood-smoke taste that caught me by surprise. I'm not sure why this flavor is not part of the menu description since there are a good number of people out there who consider smoke flavor disgusting. Although I am not one of them, this burger did not need the extra smoke flavor, it masked the taste of that wonderful meat.

The house-made coleslaw is very good – I tasted parsley, sweet pickle relish, mustard, green onion, and just a hint of cilantro. That's all I could identify, but I'm sure there are other ingredients in this very original, very delicious side dish. The fresh-cut potato fries were also good, they didn't get soggy and cardboard-tasting after they cooled. There is something to be said about eating a fresh-cut potato out of a deep fryer. 

All in all, given all the fantastic, inovative dishes on Houston's menu, I have no freakin' idea why I ordered the damn burger. 

Again, the burger is very good, but not that strong 10\10 it used to be...

I give it an 8.5/10 on the BC rating scale. 

Houston's provides every bit of 5 star service.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Habit Burger 2nd Trip - Not nearly as good as the first...

Where: The Habit Burger Grill, 3101 Promenade Blvd, Fair Lawn, NJ

What: The Santa Barbara Style

Build: Approximately 4 oz. burger, mayonnaise, pickle, tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions, avocado and American cheese on a toasted sourdough bread.

My second trip back to Habit Burger was purely coincidental. My wife and I were shopping in Paramus when time got away from us and we realized we were starving…so off to Habit we went. Note: It's a very rare occasion for my wife to accompany me to any burger joint.

Here was my comment from the first time I tried Habit:

"If the food quality and the pricing remain, The Habit folks will continue to do very good things in Fair Lawn New Jersey."

Well, at least the prices are the same... 

As for the burgers, they were gray and rubbery with little flavor. What happened to that nicely seasoned burger? Very disappointing. And no "char" was within 1,000 miles. The kicker for me was being served a single burger when I ordered the Santa Barbara Style with a Double Char burger. WTF Habit?

The overall taste was just okay, but definitely not enough to get me to go back there unless the same "starving and close by" circumstances were to arise again (and after I gave them such a nice review the first time – but hey, that was an entirely different burger experience than this one).

Consistency: THE most important aspect of food service. And it's the strongest argument for dining at fast food restaurants that I can think of.

Consistency: The one thing that is lacking in just about every Mom and Pop deli, restaurant, tavern, inn, bar, pub or franchise of any type.
99.9% of the time you are at the mercy of whoever is cooking on any particular night. Your food quality is subject to the staff's state of mind and their individual mood.

Consistency: When your customers can sit down with confidence in knowing his/her meal will be exactly what they expect instead of worrying from the minute they've ordered until they are served.

Even though I'm never a snob when it comes to fast food restaurants, my mention of McDonald's in the succeeding paragraphs is, of course, merely for the sake of highlighting the importance of consistency.
When you can count on the food quality at a local Mom and Pop restaurant, it means they have their processes and execution down pat. Prepping, cooking and presentation are all done with military accuracy so you can expect that same delicious dish you've had before. I believe this is the point at which the Mom and Pop establishment can successfully expand and/or franchise – as long as they maintain strong management.

Like them or not, fast food restaurants perfected the art of serving the same menu offerings consistently throughout all of their locations. Whether you are on a business trip in San Diego, Virginia, Canada or Italy, you can step into a McDonald's and know exactly what you are getting. Your Big Mac will taste the same as it does in the McDonald's 4,000 miles in any other direction and it's all because their processes and execution are perfected.

Yet burger places such as The Habit Burger Grill, which are becoming a-dime-a-dozen in this crazy overflowing burger market, will never hit the high notes their rivals can if they can't correct issues of consistency. I'm wondering how and why a business would try to expand if their processes are not yet perfected. But in fairness, I believe this location’s lack of consistency is most likely due to poor management.  Either way, whether it’s organic, grass fed, non-GMO or whatever, I don't care what the offerings are, if I have to worry about my food being prepared correctly and served as I ordered, you can count me out.

This burger gets a 6 on the BC rating scale. 

I have no reason to return any time soon.

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.