Burger 21 is one the the latest chains to open in the capital region. It’s located just north of Newton Plaza. On the night I checked it out, I was happy there was a backup plan a few doors down in the event that it sucked.
I’m always the “Go big or go home” type, especially with burgers, but the fact that they had a creation named “The OMG!” (double-stacked burger, lettuce, tomato, red onion, applewood-smoked bacon, American, cheddar or Swiss cheese, toasted brioche bun – $8.99) made my order pretty simple.
A large burger needs some fries to compliment it, so I decided to “Frink it!”, that is to add large fries and a drink for $4 bringing my total to $12.99 (side note: What’s the past tense of Frink? Frank?).
Right next to the self-serve soda station is a self-serve sauce station. There are some common burger accompaniments there, but, I kind of needed to know what “Thai ketchup” and “Toasted Marshmallow” tasted like.
Ok. So Thai Ketchup is slightly more interesting than regular ketchup. There’s a hint of sweet chili in there. It’s kind of like Heinz Chili Sauce (sold in supermarkets near the ketchup) only smooth like Heinz ketchup. The toasted marshmallow is grossly addictive. It has the texture and acidity of mayonnaise with a sweet marshmallow-y finish. I didn’t use much of it for anything, but I imagine the point would be to dip sweet potato fries in it.
Starting with the fries, Burger 21 plays the same game with the portion size as Five Guys, and that is to offer a larger size that comes in a cup with a slightly higher theoretical liquid volume but to present more fries above the container. Burger 21 takes it a step further by placing a paper cone within the cup, making the extra theoretical volume completely irrelevant.
Cassie ordered regular fries and got just about the same amount as I did. The fries were crispy and were pretty much the perfect size but had no salt whatsoever.
They asked me for a temperature, and I said medium rare. I’d say it came out bordering medium and medium well, and that’s fine. The way the burger was cooked and the cheese (I picked cheddar) was melted on top, the burger patties were very juicy. The meat was cooked with no seasoning, which was unfortunate because everything else about it came together great. Even the bun used was able to contain the juiciness of the burger.
It was a multi-napkin burger, so I had to wash my hands when I was done. Luckily, on the way to the bathroom they built a hand washing station, eliminating the need to hold a door handle with a dirty hand to get somewhere hands could be washed. That’s brilliant! (The soap they have smells pretty terrible though.)
On a different visit, we sat down there with a few friends for milkshakes and sundaes.
Generally, a derryX Dines post is limited to one particular visit to one particular establishment. In this case, I thought the execution of the B Split (hand-torched caramelized bananas, vanilla ice cream, diced pineapple, strawberries, Ghirardelli caramel and chocolate sauces topped with whipped cream and candied pecans – $3.99) deserved some credit.
The bruléed banana and clearly fresh strawberry and pineapple compotes as the base of the dish below the ice cream made this fun to eat. The ice cream was also outstanding; it was more like soft serve sweet cream with very little vanilla and was the perfect backdrop to all of the accompaniments. The chocolate and caramel sauces were sparingly applied around the base of the dish, so it was equally fun to try to get a little of everything in every bite or to try to make each bite unique. The crushed candied pecans on top were a nice touch but almost weren’t even necessary with the crunch of the bruléed banana.
It wasn’t a particularly large dessert, but I think it’s reasonably priced given the inventiveness and quality there.
Aside from some gripes with the seasonings and with the upcharge for some air under my fries, I found my experiences at Burger 21 to be outstanding. [and a visit to Jimmy John’s wasn’t even necessary!]