Here's How Charm City and Rok: Brgr Won Top Burger Battle Trophies
|Photo by Eric Barton|
|Rosie's Cuban-inspired burger was the Best Bar & Grill Burger winner.|
It comes down to this: Chefs dominated the esteemed panel of judges (which I was a part of). And while chefs typically seem to agree on little -- classical training is everything or nothing, depending on whether you have it -- most of them value high-quality, simple ingredients over
bold flavors and complicated sauces.
That's exactly what Charm City served up, an uncomplicated little burger on a sesame seed bun. It looked maybe too simple, but it was the great patty and excellent bun that sealed it. It's a surprising entry from the first-time Burger Battle competitor, considering Charm City's menu includes all manner of toppings.
But Charm City is run by James Beard-nominated "Rising Star Chef of the Year" Michael Saperstein. He must've known that to win over a panel dominated by chefs, he'd need to serve up something judges like to eat. It worked, because Charm City also nailed the "Burger Nirvana" award for having two judges award the highest rank possible.
Then you have Rok: Brgr's offering, which combined brie cheese with bacon jam. It was a great combination, but it failed to win over the judging panel. Too sweet, said a couple of the chefs. Fans disagreed, and the gastropub had among the longest lines of the night.
Me personally, I can be won over by both styles, the simple burger with nothing more than lettuce, tomato, onions, and ketchup is often my favorite. Few places do that better than Charm City. I've had the Rok: Brgr bacon jam, though, and if you like burgers, it's something you ought to have. In fact, you ought to ask them to start jarring the stuff, because it sure would be good on toast next to a couple fried eggs.
The judging panel was split into two groups this year for the first time, since 20 burgers is too much for anyone to eat. My group didn't officially taste either of the winners, although I had bites of both of them anyway. They were the two best burgers I had last night, although Rosie's, which won Best Bar & Grill Burger, deserves props for a fantastic Cuban-style number with fresh pickles and garlic butter. Capital Grille rounded out the winners with the Best Knife & Fork Burger award.
In the end, though, it works out well to have a chefy burger and crowd favorite with bacon jam take the two awards -- both great burgers that appeal to two different crowds.
Eric Barton is editor of New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Email him here, or click here to follow him on Facebook.