May 5, 2010

Lonnieburger Baskets: Sammy's Gourmet Burgers and Beers

Yeah, there isn't a rubric here.  I couldn't come up with one that would work for all the varieties of burgers that we could run into.

But we needed to get this show on the road, so we have now, officially begun with Sammy's Gourmet Burgers and Beer in Blue Ash.

I'm gonna go with general and fully arbitrary ten-point scales for all the important stuff.  No clue whether this is the best way to go through things since none of the ten-point scales are defined in the least, but this is how we're going through the reviews:
  • burger - straight up, how is the patty, the bun, the bare-bones basics
  • toppings - what kinds of options, how are they prepared?  I'll always go for bacon and cheddar if it's available.  The Girl gets to venture as far afield as she wants to - maybe to pick from the house specialties or to go straight, pure burger.  This may take a second try if the toppings can't be judged the first time out.
  • ambiance - what's the restaurant feel like - good can be fancy or plain, but it has to feel right
  • fries - hot, crispy, tasty - all varieties can fit in this as long as they're good
  • cost - this one's a little more mathematical by its nature...$10 for burger, fries, and a coke of some sort is a five...anything more expensive than that loses points...anything less wins points...
So, let's get to this thing...

  • No choice of how to cook the burger (medium, medium-well, whatever) but that makes sense because Sammy's make a bit of a hybrid burger - not thick enough to qualify for a grilled-style but not thin enough to be a thin and crispy burger.  The burger was served in a butcher paper triangle wrapping it and settling it into the red, plastic basket next to the fries.   Burger and fries were both served hot, and the butcher paper kept the bun moist - almost steamed - making for a very soft bite into the bun.  This, however, matched the texture of the burger as the grind of the meat was more a sausage texture - the kind of sausage patty that McDonald's serves - making for a very smooth burger chew.  The burger wasn't grilled but it didn't feel fried - either way it lacked any crispness to contrast the smoothness of the meat.  All in all, the burger was nothing special and nothing that we'll be coming back for.  Burger - 4 

  • This, apparently is what the whole Sammy's experience is all about.  Their menu lists a half dozen specialty burgers - Tex-Mex, mushroom, Chili, ragita, Chipotle, classic, Hawaiian, guacamole - plus some other burger-ish options - a chorizo burger, a pinto bean patty, and a veggie burger.  This is a place that doesn't even have anything as plain as an untopped burger, a cheeseburger, or even a bacon cheeseburger.  I had to go off the menu and order what is going to be my standard for this exploration.  The Girl went with the mushroom burger - no onions, swap the Swiss in for the cheddar.

    The mushrooms were fresh and decently sauteed, though we both would've gone for them to be a little darker and more well cooked.  These were still a little firmer than they could have been.  The cheese on both burgers was nicely melted, but the bacon was on the undercooked side - not raw by any stretch, just not crisp in the least - and .  Again, a soft bun, a soft burger, a soft bacon.  If the topping are the big thing, the toppings should be out of the park.  They weren't.  Maybe the more esoteric specialty burgers are better.  The descriptions read like they'd be outstanding, but the toppings we had were good but not spectacular.  Again, Toppings - 5
  • The place isn't big, and we got there at about the busiest time of the week - 7:30 on a warm Friday night.  There's an outside deck - non-smoking, major plus there - but we took the first open table which happened to be inside.  We were told it would be a twenty-minute wait, and there were a few benches to sit on while we waited.  We were seated between ten and fifteen minutes after we took our spot on one of those benches.

    Sports is the clear theme as there are three or four framed futbol jerseys on the wall - international jerseys (I didn't recognize the teams from the kits), one of which is signed.  There are five or six flat screens around the room - one of which was showing NASCAR, the others Cavs-Celtics game 1 when we left and Italian soccer when we got there.

    The place was hopping and had a strong neighborhood feel along with a touch of Hispanic (Cinco de Mayo banner, tex-mex and chorizo on the menu, soccer on the tube).  I dug it, but it isn't anything unique, anything that doesn't exist in any of a dozen other places around the city.  I'll give it Ambiance - 6
  • The fries type that these can fit into would be plank.  They're mostly wide fries but cut with a little waffle so they aren't flat planks.  Then they get a light batter - imagine a Rally's fry but without any of the spice and with a lighter batter before they're fried.  The fries were served nicely hot - as was the burger, in case I hadn't mentioned it already - but lacked any sort of distinctive taste.  They were correctly cooked and served but just bland.  I'll give Fries - 5.
  • Burgers range from $8.50 (the classic) to $9.50 (the chorizo and guacamole) - except for the pinto ($5.95) and veggie ($6.95).  The burgers come with fries, no extra charge.  The drinks aren't listed on the online menu, but they were $1.95.  That puts us at about $11 per burger, fries, and a coke.  As it's slightly above my arbitrarily-defined average point, Cost - 4.
Other stuff
  • Domestic bottles of beer $2.75...Domestic microbrews (macro though they may be) and imports $3.75.  I'm not so beer-drinking, but The Girl says that's cheap enough and the selection was good...+1
  • We went for the jalapeno bottlecaps.  We'd tried them for the first time at Black Angus a month or so ago.  Black Angus's were better.  These were kind of mushy in the center but generally well cooked - nice, even batter, no crispies in with the peppers.  I'm guessing they weren't battered in house just based on the evenness of the coating. +/- 0

So, our score...
  • Twenty-five out of a possible fifty.  We have our clubhouse leader - admittedly because there's only one player in the clubhouse.
And away we go...

Other burger joints being added to the list...
Update: Feel free to check out another local blogger's take on Sammy's Gourmet Burgers to see that my review was about right. 


    TL said...

    I never go downtown anymore, but I'd like to try this burger:

    PHSChemGuy said...

    Cafe de Wheels is on the list. We were supposed to be there last week, but an electrical storm came on and prevented that visit.