All Cheeseburger

Vegas – Burgers on the Strip 2010


Last weekend, I went to Las Vegas in search of some outstanding gourmet burgers.
When I say ‘gourmet’, I use Chicago’s Rosebud (at Rush and Superior) and Kuma’s Corner (at Belmont and Francisco) as the ‘gold standard’.

I searched on the internet and compiled a list of places in Vegas with high reviews of their burgers that I would try to go to during my 3 day weekend.
I knew there was no way I would make it to all of them, so I was moderately satisfied to have at least gotten to 3 before my trip was over.

The list below is in order of their location on the strip, with the dashed [ – ] entries indicating the East side of the the strip. The restaurants I made it to are big and bold.

  • Strip Burger @ Fashion Show Mall
  •   -Society Cafe @ Encore
  •   -Daniel Boulud @ Wynn
  •   -First Food & Bar @ Palazzo
  • BLT Burger @ The Mirage
  •   -Burger Joint @ The Flamingo
  •   -Le Burger Brasserie @ Paris
  •   -Cheeseburger at The Oasis @ Planet Hollywood
  • Burger Bar @ Mandalay Place

I hope to return to Vegas on a longer trip to complete the list, but I think I got a good idea of the quality of burgers on The Strip, and I’d have to say that although these burgers were good, they weren’t outstanding, and certainly nowhere near the level of Rosebud or Kuma’s. I was disappointed to have missed the DB Burger from Boulud’s Brasserie, but sadly there was a dress code and on a 100 degree day in Vegas, I was wearing shorts. I may have to track down one of Boulud’s remaining restaurants to try it, however, as I hear they will be closing the Vegas Brasserie soon in order to expand the SW Steakhouse. Society Cafe’s Kobe Burger came close to the Chicago Gourmet Burger Standard, which is why I bothered to get out the camera phone to take a few snaps.

Pictured below – SOCIETY CAFE @ Encore: The Kobe Burger (medium rare) with Cheddar, Bacon, and Roasted Jalapenos, served with fresh cut shoestring fries.

finally! a burger with FRESH CUT FRIES!

yes, it really was that big

leaving little evidence behind

 is a waste of Kobe Beef. Dont get me wrong – Kobe Beef is worth every penny in it’s steak form (although I’m perfectly happy with a decent prime black angus), but since you’re grinding up the beef to make a hamburger, you are tenderizing and distributing the meat/fat of whatever cut of beef you are using, it’s simply crazy to use Kobe beef in this way.  Kobe Beef is engineered to evenly distribute the fat throughout the beef so you don’t have to grind it up into a patty. They feed the cows BEER as part of the process, so you know it’s gotta be good… in a STEAK! The nail-in-the-coffin for my condemnation of using Kobe in a burger comes from my pleasant experience at Society Cafe where I watched a great victory by the Chicago Blackhawks. GO HAWKS! If Kobe Beef was truly the end-all-be-all of hamburgers, then it should have blown a Rosebud Burger out of the water. This didn’t happen. Maybe it’s due to what seemed like a Vegas-wide conspiracy to under-season food in it’s restaurants (SALT THE DAMN FRIES, YOU POLITICALLY CORRECT FOOD-NAZIS! – actually, Society Cafe DID salt the fries, but other restaurants in Vegas did not), but I honestly think they could have served just as tasty a burger with non-kobe beef.  Kobe beef burgers are simply a case of supply creating artificial demand for something due to it’s reputation.

Hit the jump for a brief rant about ‘Franken-fries’ and a Vegas Burger Summary…
There are a few trends I am noticing in the restaurant industry that I believe are to its detriment.
The use of ‘franken-fries’ is a subject I’ve brought up before, and the use of these ‘coated’ potato sticks is just plain wrong. The starchy coating enhances crispness at the expense of flavor. I blame Burger King for introducing this abomination to the masses. On a similar note is the use of clearl
y frozen french fries to accompany a gourmet burger. I understand the extra work (and probably extra $) that is involved in using fresh cut fries, but it is clearly worth the effort to accompany a culinary masterpiece like a burger topped with Brie, caramelized onions, and smoked bacon, with a similarly worthy pile of fresh cut properly cooked and salted french fries. Especially odd is the use of frozen fries in a French-themed burger bar located at a French Themed Vegas hotel. It’s a bit of a downer, to say the least, when a restaurant with a highly-rated burger ‘phones it in’ on the side dishes. I had a slightly better experience at Burger Bar, but that was because I had ordered the sweet-potato fries, another new industry trend of which I am a huge fan. My dining companions had ordered the fries (again, frozen blasphemy), and we shared some well-prepared, but oversized onion rings.  A twenty minute wait to get into a Burger restaurant in Vegas… well, at least it wasn’t the 2 hour wait at Kuma’s Corner (thanks a lot, PBS and Food Network!).

So to sum up, I leave you with this…

Gourmet Vegas Burgers: Good, but could be better. (must return to try more)
Gourmet Chicago Burgers: GREAT!
Restaurants: SEASON YOUR FOOD! (but only salt on the fries), Stop using Franken-Fries, Make Fresh-Cut fries whenever possible. Kobe Beef should be used for steaks, not burgers.

Despite Homer Simpson owing $$$ to Vegas, always bet on RED.

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