I’m a well known burger fan. I eat a lot of burgers. Burger me. Gim burg. My current plan — don’t tell my doctor — is to eat all the burgers. Last year (2017), I began burger-binging my way through downtown Asheville, eating them here, there, and everywhere. I went to all of my favorite places of course, as well as a few old Asheville standards that I hadn’t been to in a while, and a new place or two that had just opened up. (There’s always at least one new place opening up in Asheville at all times!) This year (2018), I’ve decided to get a little more serious and methodical in my burger journey, pay more attention to each burger, take more pictures, jot down field notes, and compile all of my burgery results for you guys, with this new monthly installment on Ashvegas. Please enjoy!
2018 ASHEVILLE BURGER SURVEY
Part 1: Setting the Bar, High & Low
On my 2017 burger journeys I discovered some amazing burgers! I’ve already drawn attention to the Bhramari Burger at Bhramari Brewing Company, which won the 2017 Stoobie award for Best Burger in Asheville, and holy… yeah… I ate another one just the other day, and I stand by my Stoobie Award choice 100%. It was fan-fucking-tastic. I crushed it, and enjoyed every bite. I’ve eaten a few other burgers of note in 2018, one was notable because it was so bad! I’ll get to that one in a minute, but let me set-up the whole Burger Survey by saying that I’m going rank each burger as I eat them, from BEST to WORST, fitting each burger I eat throughout the entire year in to it’s appropriate ranking on the scale. I will also rate each burger on a five star scale, 5 being awesome, and zero being a complete shit show.
First an example of the former, and then, unfortch, a sample of the latter.
★★★★★ Bhramari Burger
“Spent Grain Fed Beef, Stout Wort Glaze, Crispy Onions, Oaked Mayo, Hop Smoked Black Truffle American Cheese, Candied Bacon, Pickles”
As I said, I ate one of these burgers (pictured) just the other day, and wow, it was every bit as awesome as it was the first and last time I ate one. The spent-grain fed beef has a really great flavor to it, and it was cooked to perfection. I ordered medium rare, like I do, and that’s ezzackly how it came. I cut it in half myself just to make sure.
The candied bacon on the Bhramari burger is currently ranked by the United Nations as one of the greatest things on Earth… in an alternate universe where I am in charge of the United Nations. Its caramelized, sweet, baconny goodness is undeniable, and its texture is jehhhst right. As in: When I bit into this burger, my teeth went through the bacon, and I did not have to struggle with the bacon, or contend with it sliding out of the burger on my first bite-n-pull-back, slapping me in the chin. I hate that. This bacon didn’t do that. This bacon was perfect in every way. Like a new born baby. Only way more delicious.
The obvious hero of the Bhramari burger to me is the hop smoked black truffle American cheese, which — besides being the name of my new Stoner Rock band — tastes and feels more like a gourmet mornay sauce, than a slice of the plastinated goo that we all think of when we think of American cheese. Don’t get me wrong: Plastinated American goo cheese is one of my all-time fave things ever, but this sauce ain’t that. It’s creamy and dreamy to the max, and every bite of this burger is a send-me-to-heaven moment in large part because of this super-star, stoner rock, cheese sauce.
The oaked mayo and stout wort glaze serve to add even more complimentary flavors, and sauciness to the Bhramari burger, while the house made pickles and crispy onions both add the perfect contrasting textures to the meaty burger, juicy cheese & sauces, and soft squishiness of the Geraldine’s Bakery bun. That bun is the coup de grace, BTW. It straddles the line between high-quality baked goods, and trashy white bread with absolute professional deftness, and it’s locally made by my 2017 Best Bakery Stoobie award winner!
The Bhramari Burger sets the standard for the BEST burger in Asheville in my opinion, a standard by which all others will be judged.
Bhramari Brewing Co.
“Bhramari Brewing Company is a brewery, restaurant, & taproom showcasing a roster of flagship brews as well as a rotating selection of small batch beers.”
Address: 101 S Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: (828) 214-7981
The next burger in my survey sets the low bar
Sadly this is the one NOT to beat, in its current standing as the WORST burger I’ve had so far in 2018.
I hate to do it, but this was a zero-star burger to me. I’m totally game to try any burger, not just ones made from beef. I even gave Eat of the Week honors to a vegan burger from Rosetta’s Kitchen recently! So, when I saw that BimBeriBon had a lamb burger on their menu I happily ordered it, and so did the two friends I was with that day.
My first thought was that any kind of meat-burger seemed a little out of place on the BBB menu, because much of the rest of the fare is Vegetarian or even Vegan. I should have opted for those capital V options that day, because I think I would have enjoyed almost any of them a lot more than I did this burger-fail. In fact, the dips and breads that we got along with our three burgers were great, and on my one other previous visit to BimBeriBon, I had enjoyed my veggie food very much. So, I’m not knocking the restaurant in general, I’m just placing this particular burger in the proper rankings on the survey, which is at the very bottom. Hey, there are currently exactly TWO burgers in the official rankings, and someone’s gotta be bottom, so BimBeriBon fanatics, please don’t hate me…. as much as I hated this burger.
It was over-cooked. Let’s just start right there. I ordered mine medium rare, like I do, and my one friend ordered their’s medium. I forget what my other friend asked for, but all three of our burgers came to our table cooked exactly the same way: Well-done. Booo! Two stars off right there. I mean c’mon. That’s basic math. Medium plus rare equals medium rare. They did the math wrong, so I had to do some math myself and start subtracting points immediately. I had no choice!
The bun was no fun. You can see it for yourselves in the picture above. I mean… What is that? A crumpet? An English muffin? Well, it’s a gluten free burger bun, is what it is. The burgers at BimBeriBon automatically come on a gluten free bun, because the whole restaurant is GF, which is fine, but please, make a better gluten free bun! The menu description literally says “soft bun,” and to that I give the dot-line-dot face. . _ . It was not soft. It was dry, dense, and crumbly, just like gluten free buns usually are. Had I known… I would have ordered soup.
So yeah, the burger was dry, the bun was dry, and the dry… dry… dryyy… feta cheese didn’t help that situation one bit. Even the yogurt raita sauce… my only hope… failed me. I guess the person in charge of raita distribution must have been having to ration the precious fluid very strictly that day, because there could have been a lot more. A lahhhhht more. Dry.
Sorry, BimBeriBurger, but you are currently the worst in Asheville, in this guy’s opinion.
“A gluten-free menu of global bites & superfood-enhanced fare is served in a light-filled space.“
Address: 697 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
Phone: (828) 505-0328
And there you have it!
This is just the first entry in an on-going monthly series, during which I will continue to eat and rank Asheville’s burgers, trying my damnedest to get to every single burger venue in downtown, as well as West Asheville and outlying areas as I can. I did eat a bunch of burgers last year that were so mediocre, that I won’t be going back for a secondsies. Instead, I’ll just slide those burgers into the rankings in their appropriate places as I build the list.
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Follow me here on Ashvegas, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and my own blog, StuHelmFoodFan.com where I post tons of food reviews, news, contests, pictures, funny stories, and #positivelists!
Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.