Race for the Burger Is On
|the Char-Hut one-third pounder getting toasted|
The question of cost sends us into a panic: How to compare a $25 Kobe burger cooked on a state of-the-art grill by some celeb chef against the fast-food quickie so many regular folks depend on day after day?
|"I coulda been a contender." Char-Hut's poppyseed bun and side of onion rings.|
1. A burger is the people's food. It shouldn't cost an arm and a leg. Anything over $12 no longer qualifies as a burger. It's chopped steak.
2. I prefer a burger made with chuck. End of story.
3. Hand-ground on premises scores big.
4. Screw the filler. Don't put a bunch of junk in my burger -- bread crumbs, chopped mushrooms, parsley, whatever. If I wanted meatloaf, I'd order meatloaf.
5. Must be juicy.
6. Brownie points for atmosphere. A funky neighborhood bar with loud music and tacky wall art gets the edge over a sterile franchise. Think: The Brass Ring. Le Tub. Alligator Alley. We do not exist in a vacuum, and neither can we separate the taste of the burger from the place in which it is tasted.
One of the burgers I've been thinking about lately is Char-Hut's "Char-Burger." Char-Hut has been around since 1976; it's a South Florida company with four franchises -- three in West Broward and one in Western Palm Beach (South Florida homeboy = points). They sell their burger for a reasonable $4.99 (points), it's made with fresh ground, never frozen, chuck (points), grilled (points), and it has legions of totally devoted fans (points). It's a fairly low-fat chuck they're using, even endorsed by the American Heart Association (I'm neutral on this question).
|Char-Hut's cheeseburger, plain bun|
They use a 1/3 pound of meat pressed into a thin round, I'm guessing a little less than a half-inch thick. You can choose a plain, poppyseed, whole wheat bun, or a pita (the last two options don't even enter into this deliberation). These are good burgers. Both the regular and poppyseed bun are soft and chewy. The Char-Burger makes sense as the go-to burger for busy people, a fairly healthy and routinely delicious dinner for under $10 counting sides and drinks. If I were stranded on a desert island with this burger, I wouldn't complain.
But something is missing, and I think it's the juice. I need to add another juice-related qualification here: #7. The perfect burger needs a little thickness. I'm not saying it needs to be so big you have to unhinge your jaw (in fact, I hate that.) But it needs to put some weight in your mouth. And it's not necessarily a bad thing if the burger grease juice happens to run down your chin.
I'm just saying.
9000 W. State Rd. 84
Plus three other locations. Go to char-hut.com.