Charlie's Hamburgers, Folsom, PA


Burger Archive

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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, August 29, 2014

The Beach Haven Fishery, Stuffed Burgers

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

The Cheddar Bacon Stuffed Burger and The Blackened & Blue Burger

The Cheddar Bacon Stuffed Burger Build:

A half-pound Black Angus burger, cheddar cheese, chopped white onion, ciabatta roll.

The Black & Blue Burger Stuffed Burger Build:

A half-pound of blackened Black Angus meat, blue cheese, bacon, ciabatta roll.

These off-the-menu beauties were the brainchild of none other than sous chef Vincent "Vinny Bones" Nilio. This “Juicy Lucy” concept was a Beach Haven Fishery experiment that took place this past weekend and triumphed in tickling the taste buds and thrilling the senses. How I wish these culinary delights could be on the menu, but alas, time constraints in the production do not allow it. There are step-by-step photos of the process below along with a few photos of The Black & Blue Burger Stuffed Burger. Enjoy...

These burgers rated an easy 10/10 on the BC rating scale.

The "Stufz" burger maker...

Burger pressed and ready for stuffing...


White onion...

Deep Fried Bacon...

More Cheddar...

Press the top on.....

Just Look at that Marbleized Black Angus meat...

The Man, The Myth, The Legend, I give you, Vinny Bones...

Topped off with 2 slices of White American...

Tell Me You're Not Hungry...

The Blackened Blue Burger...

Blackening Spices, Blue Cheese and Bacon stuffed inside this meat nugget...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

*READER REVIEW* - Burger King, West Caldwell, NJ - The A1 Half Pound Burger

Here is a no-holds-barred review from "O", a friend and fellow burger lover. I sent him to Burger King to sample their self acclaimed, "Half Pound" burger, The A1 Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger.
What a mistake, but I'll let O tell the story...  
(yes, his name is "O", James Bond has "M" - I can have "O", the anonymous burger guy)

My good friend Billy asked me to join him in tasting the new Burger King A1 Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger for lunch.  We work far apart from each other so I went to the Burger King in West Caldwell NJ while he ate at the Park Ridge, NJ location.  I am excited to deliver my first Guest Burger Blog for Billy who loves burgers like no man or beast I have ever met.  So here goes:
First I must explain that my relationship with Burger King is a long one.  I grew up in Cedar Grove, NJ and a Burger King was opened on Route 23 in town sometime in the mid to late 1970’s.  Back then that was a big freaking deal and we loved it.  The smell of that broiler wafting into the air across from St. Catherine's Church and when I was in church this was a real problem for me. 
My ultimate favorite fast food burger is a Whopper with Cheese, hands-down.  There's absolutely nothing that I'd replace on that burger except occasionally there's too much ketchup (and like Billy - I'm a fan of NFK so too much ketchup "aka TMFK" is no good).  But most of the time the combo of broiled burger along with a perfect combo of onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo sliding together with the proper amount of ketchup on a seeded bun (yeah!)...that's the best fast food burger there is.  And if you don't get cheese on are just plain weird.  Extra cheese please...and hold the weirdo.
Fast forward to 1982 and my good friend Jude gets me a job at BK.  I'm in heaven.  I worked the broiler, there were a lot of fun guys there and we really just had a blast.  I was absolutely not interested in work....only in fun, food and seeing our friends come in to eat. And most importantly...driving our manager insane. So my blog today is in memory of my manager Erik who now, 32 years later, I can say...yes Eric, it was me who filled your coat pockets with Ketchup.  Sorry about that, but watching you go crazy was worth it.
On to the burger…
First, I don't like 1/2 pound burgers, they are too much.  I'd rather have two smaller burgers than one big one.  I walked into Burger King today and asked for the 1/2 lb. burger.  The "waitress" said "huh?" and after calling Billy to confirm, I ordered the A1 Ultimate.
I prefer classic burgers - Onion, lettuce, tomato, cheese (of course), and I'm a big fan of mayo on a burger.  This thing is way outside of what I'd ever order so I'm skeptical but still have an open mind.
I unwrapped the burger and I knew right away it sat in the steamer for a while.  Strike one. (See pic below - rubber meat - yuck)
I then took a bite and got a taste of very sweet A1 - not your regular A1 but a cheaper, sweeter version that I could only picture in some colostomy bag in the kitchen with a squeeze tube on it.  My impression - way too sweet, something is wrong.  Strike 2.
After 2 bites I knew I was in trouble.  I had just spent $10.05 on the burger with "medium" fries and drink.  At BK, the fries are medium and the drink could have Shamu the Whale swim in it with room left over.  Ridiculous drink size.  The combo of A1 sauce and bacon tasted like it was cooked 6 hours ago and sat out, plus onion and cheese and nothing else was just awful  Major Strike 3.  It looked and smelled bad, had sweet sauce on it, and the combination of the whole thing was like it was put together by a bunch of idiots with no taste buds.   
I will give a major shout out though, to the drink selection at BK - I had a Mello Yello.  Awesome, although 3 gallons for a medium cup is a bit too much.
The only thing good was the bun.  Perfect burger/bun ratio, had good taste and wasn't stale.  That's how low the bar is on this thing...I liked the bun the best.

Final Grade = Epic Crap Fail.  I beg you to never order this burger. could this happen?  BK, McDonald's, and others are completely under siege from the fast/casual crowd of 5 Guys, Smash Burger and others (west coast fans - In and Out is the best).  Burger King has a great brand, and fun things for kids (who doesn't like it when you see kids eating with their Burger King crown on - that's awesome) and they broil their burgers. I Love it.  But overall, most every store is outdated, filthy, and now they are just throwing crap like this burger out there.
What I say to BK and McDonald's is this - you live by the sword, you die by the sword.  You put literally thousands of Mom and Pop businesses out of business when you were growing and now due to your corporate stupidity you can't compete with these other companies who are charging only a fraction more than you and delivering a high quality product in a beautiful atmosphere.  So tell your suits in corporate to enjoy their last few months (or years) employed because they all suck and will be unemployed when people continue flocking to the better product in a nicer setting. 
I told Billy I should have thrown the burger down and ordered a Whopper with Cheese but I wasn't giving them any more money.  And to think I drove past a Smash Burger, Wendy's, and (please God forgive me) a Jimmy Buffs hot dogs.  Sad.
Pics below.  

O's pics from the BK in West Caldwell, NJ...

"O", the burger guy 

Here are my pics of the A1 from the BK in Park Ridge NJ.... I ordered mine "off the broiler" so although a crappy burger overall,  it was not quite an "epic, crap, fail"... One more thing, O nailed it, the bun was freakin awesome! I'd like to ask for a Whopper on that thing next time....


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Johnny Rockets, Garden State Plaza Mall, Paramus, NJ

Milestone - 200th review...

Where -
Johnny Rockets, 1 Garden State Plaza Mall, Paramus, NJ 07652
 (201) 291-1700
What -
The Rocket Double

Build -
This is Johnny Rockets’ classic cheeseburger made up of two 1/3 pound burger patties, cheddar cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato, a thick slice of white onion and special sauce.

Comment -
I've got a warm place in my heart for Johnny Rockets. Living in New Jersey, Johnny Rockets was my first exposure to the "fast casual" food culture. The throwback decor along with the old school flat-grilled burger aroma rising from the grill had my mind on overload. This place was reminiscent of a very realistic time travel dream, complete with upbeat 50's tunes – I would have liked to stay the entire day at this place.

Although Five Guys and Johnny Rockets were established the same year (1986) I hadn't yet heard of Five Guys at the time, so as far as I knew this new fast casual concept was all due to JR's. I thought, "Finally, somebody's thinking.”

The burger I had this time was every bit as good if not better (the grill is completely seasoned now) than my first trip many years ago. The place is always very clean, the staff could not be nicer and I'm talking myself into going back tomorrow...

If you are like me and absolutely love hamburgers, or even if you just like them, this is the place for you.

On to the burger...
I was dying to get back to a J.R.’s especially after my son told me he'd never been, so we finally went this week.  It should be noted that my son – who has been on all of our burger runs, said his Johnny Rockets burger was on par with In-N-Out burgers, and that it was better than Five Guys hands down. I mean, he knows a good burger from a mediocre one. So naturally when I heard him utter those words, I couldn't wait to take my last photo so I could eat. And I had to agree with him.

As with all food establishments, they are only as good as the last meal they served, but we found the consistency at J.R.'s to be impeccable. That’s huge for any fast casual food establishment since they are historically (and notoriously) known for high employee turnover rates. 

The combination of toppings on The Rocket Double is, very simply put; perfect.

And ICEBERG LETTUCE? AWESOME!!!  I love the fact that J.R.'s doesn't buy into that green leafy stuff that's "good for me.”  There is a huge age range of Americans that were, and still are, very happy with iceberg lettuce served cold out of the fridge with its crispness and perfect inability to add a green leafy flavor to your food. Rather than adding flavor, iceberg lettuce provides a nice crispy texture and moisture, which is all you really need to spruce up any sandwich. 

The combination of other toppings and condiments especially the white onion (my fav), were also done just right and the use of two slices of Cheddar instead of American cheese provided an added richness to the burger.

I believe the buns must be prepared in close proximity to the burgers in order to gather just the right amount of grease misting off the grill. The result is; a nice, shiny, flavorful bun that harbors some wonderful burger flavor – so darn good. 

A minor nod to the cheese fries – the cheese sauce wasn't disgustingly thick and salty like most, in fact, the consistency was perfect but overall it lacked flavor. The fries themselves were good, hot and crispy.

I can't find anything wrong with Johnny Rockets' burgers so I have no choice but to rate them a 10/10 on the BC rating scale. 

Seriously, these burgers are very, very good – I couldn't have chosen a better burger to eat for my 200th review.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza, Wayne, NJ

Where -
Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza, Wayne, NJ, 1600 Rte 23 N, Wayne, NJ 07470 - (973) 872-2625

What -
A traditional large pie with a side of wings.

Build -
Grande mozzarella, Italian plum tomatoes, Romano cheese, basil and olive oil, mushrooms.

Comment -
Disclaimer: I realize a pizza review may not sit well with some of my readers so please allow me to politely remind you of my use of the word "mostly" in the title of this blog, and if you are still a bit upset, I think you should seek professional help because you're an even bigger burger geek than I am. 

I've been wrongfully resisting the patronage of this establishment for a while now, all because my brain is wired to think in only one dimension of food – burgers. I kept saying to myself,  "Although I absolutely love pizza, pizza is not a burger.” But finally, a colleague at work was able to talk me down from the flat grill and off we went to sample Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza. I'm very glad I did. 

This company-owned (non franchise-able) business was a refreshing change from most pizza joints in the Northern New Jersey region.  Its fresh ingredients reminded me of some of the best pizzas I have ever eaten where quality not quantity is key, and apparently it's also the personal mantra of owner Anthony Bruno. 

The delicate yet ample crust is baked to perfection with a few well-done areas delivering a host of different flavors, and this is in the crust alone. The low-moisture mozzarella perfectly compliments the fresh-tasting tomatoes, which are not overly flavored with handfuls of dry Italian spices (like so many other pizza joints feel the need to do), and the sprinkle of Romano screams "game over, stick a fork in me, I'm done.” Both the basil and olive oil flavors take turns peeking through the cheese and tomato, delightfully adding to my pizza bliss. This pie is a textbook example of "keep it simple" and "less is more." Fresh ingredients cannot be made better by adding more flavors so why turn simple, delicious fresh food into a science experiment? Isn't life complicated enough? Oh, and one more thing, the mushrooms, the freakin' mushrooms...let's just say, order them.

But I digress....
The pizzas are slid into the 800-degree oven and cook in one minute (how nice is that when the place is packed and you need to bang out those pies?). Anthony Bruno's motto for the business is, "I'm only as good as my last pizza,”…so true, and yet another very refreshing attitude to have in this world of finger-pointing, self-indulgent, lazy asses raised with an unrealistic sense of entitlement.  

One more tidbit, Wednesday night is $5 martini night, (I get mine dirty with blue cheese-stuffed olives) and they pass around samples of their eggplant and meatballs. You'll receive a meatball on a plate with a small dollop of ricotta cheese on top and a hors d'oeuvre fork stuck in it.  The meatballs are without a doubt the best I have ever had at a restaurant (sorry Carmine).

Anthony's continues to receive very good to excellent ratings with the Zagat Survey (now I know why).  Mr. Bruno first opened a coal fired pizza shop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he was able to expand into many states and has never looked back. God bless.
Well done, Mr. Bruno, well done. Pun intended.

The photos just don't do this pie justice.....