“Innovation” May Be OverratedBy Todd • Aug 20th, 2009 • Category: Burger Blog
As regular cheese-burger.net readers may have noticed, I’ve been on a bit of a simplicity kick lately. (See Five Guys, Redamak’s, Harold’s, etc.) Gargantuan burgers with bizarro toppings have their place, and there are times when I crave the craziness. (God knows a few of those Cheese and Burger Society offerings got me all drooly.) But for whatever reason- the weather, the economy, my general station in life these days- basic is just better right now, at least in my world.
So it was with trepidation that I opened a link to “Business Week”‘s list of Most Innovative Burgers. There were a few things that weren’t sitting well with me from the get-go. First, consider the source. “Business Week” is reviewing hamburgers now?!? Either this was going to be a snoozapalooza piece about market shares and profit margins… or else a bunch of pointy-headed CFOs were actually taste-testing cheebies. No matter what, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like it.
The second red flag was the word “innovative.” Again, I figured there were two ways that could go. One, “innovative” as in “new and revolutionary.” You know, the good kind of “innovative.” Behind Door Number Two… “innovative” as a euphemism for “weird.”
Writer Rachel Z. Arndt sets up pretty quickly what the BW list is, and what it isn’t:
“If you’re looking for a roundup of the world’s best hamburgers, you’ve come to the wrong place,” she writes. “This is about the most original and innovative burgers—burgers that may not be to everyone’s taste and may even taste a little odd, but that’s the point.”
Here, here. Click the link, watch the slideshow, and decide for yourself. But here a few notables that stood out as I went through the 29-burger list.
The Amazing Aloha:
The Amazing Aloha, from a chain in the Philippines, has pineapple on it. I know. Me too. At first. But now I keep thinking about it and know it'll only be a matter of time before I crack open a can of Dole in my own kitchen and try this.
No such luck with this one. I know there are Boca Burger fans out there, but "Meatless Soy Protein?" That's an 0-for-3 effort as far as I'm concerned. Grab some bench, slugger. You know what else has "90% less fat than a ground beef hamburger?" My shoe. But I don't slap that between two buns and expect anyone to enjoy eating it.
Now you're talking. I'm fascinated by the very idea of In-N-Out's "secret menu." And this offering from it, the "20×20"… well, that's just damn sexy.
Lady’s Brunch Burger:
The Lady's Brunch Burger. I'm already miffed at Paula Deen for my bacon cheeseburger meat loaf debacle… and that she apparently revised the recipe after the fact. But now she's stealing the Luther Burger, adding an egg, and renaming it?!?
The tempura burger from MOS Burger in Japan. My wife just went to Japan on business. She said the Japanese are bona fide nutso about American-style cheeseburgers. I guess no one told them that Americans don't consider anything made of shrimp, squid, scallops, onion, carrots, and sesame-flavored edamame and then served on a bun of rice to be a cheeseburger.
Pate Melt from Richard Blais:
The Pate Melt from Richard Blais. I know he's a hotshot TV chef. I know he's one of these molecular gastronomy mad scientist/rockstar types who figures everything is better if it's been blasted with liquid nitrogen. His Flip Burger Boutique right here in my own city of Atlanta is a scorchingly hot ticket, with deafening buzz and a line out the door for his burgers. But if veal and pork pate topped with lingonberries and cornichons is what he's pushing, I'm already closer to that line than I need to be.”
The Richard Nouveau Burger:
The Richard Nouveau Burger from Wall Street Burger Shoppe in NYC. Ten ounces of Kobe beef, black truffles, foie gras, and actual flakes of gold. For 175 smackers. Or I could buy a B.C.O.M.L. for me, 12 more for my friends, and still have money to spend. Oh, yeah, plus no precious metal moving through my bowels.
A few of the usual suspects from Cheeseburgerland are here, too, although I’m not sure that “innovative” has described the Big Mac in decades, or that it describes Hardee’s Monster Thickburger at all.
There are a few offerings on the list that will be familiar to readers of this site. The Chicken Maharaja Mac has gotten some press here, as has the White Castle slyder, and the Coronary Bypass from my own beloved Vortex Bar & Grill. Business Week even gave some love to the infamous Cheeseburger in a Can, which, based on your near-unanimous response to the March ’08 post, will not be showing up on my dinner table anytime soon. As in ever.
But if you thought that was the weirdest burger out there, think again. Nothing against campers or astronauts, but me and freeze-dried patties in a pouch just ain’t gonna happen… for any reason. If that’s “innovation,” I’ll stay stuck in the flame-grilled Stone Age, thankyouverymuch.