Summertime, and the burgers are sizzlin’
The hamburger. Nature’s food with built-in handles! I don’t think I know anybody (or, better yet, anybody I’d desire to know) who doesn’t like a savory little something tucked securely inside a nice, yeasty roll. That roll is all-important, and I’ve been read (well, emailed) the riot act by at least two local chefs when I dared to criticize their burger rolls. Don’t tell anybody, but after yelling at me they both changed the type of roll they served. I’ll take that as a compliment.
A plain burger is the proverbial tabula rasa, yearning for the perfect accessories. Add bacon (it’ll make your pelt shiny), a slice of cheese (dairy is healthy) and a few nice pickle chips (Bubbie’s brand bread and butter if you can find them) and there’s nothing better.
Rehoboth Beach is loaded with restaurants that push the burger envelope. Take the salmon burger at Summer House. It comes with a polite dollop of lemon basil mayo, and when they have it, it’s only available on Monday’s half-price burger night (call first to make sure!). A bit farther east on the ocean block of Baltimore Avenue, Ginger Breneman’s MIXX offers six discounted and non-traditional burgers - only on Wednesdays. The top three are, in this order: (1) Chef Dave Sauers’ famous deviled short rib burger, (2) the Asian pork burger and (3) the bison burger. Govern yourself accordingly.
Big Fish Grill should be renamed Big Burger Grill in honor of their old-fashioned chophouse burger. The kicker is the perfect roll. Eggy, cloudlike and tantalizingly yielding, it becomes an essential part of the experience as it softly caresses the treasures within. I sometimes buy those rolls from Big Fish Market when I make burgers at home.
Of course you can’t bandy beach burgers without mentioning Jake’s Wayback and Five Guys. Which is better? Is it Jake’s juicy slow-cooked patty, topped with crunchy onion rings and nestled in a toasted bun? Or is it Five Guys’ never-frozen burger, well-done and properly topped, wrapped in foil and buried in hot fries? Yes, Jake’s has those milkshakes. But Five Guys lets you nosh on peanuts while you wait. Could be a toss-up….
Eden founder and Shorebreak Lodge co-owner Rob Stitt has managed to kick burgerdom up to heights heretofore unknown with the appearance of the LaFrieda burger. Brooklyn-born butcher Pat LaFrieda’s beef blends are known throughout the country for that mystical combination of the flatiron portion of chuck, brisket and short rib from Black Angus cows. It’s so good that restaurants proudly display Pat’s name on their menus. And at Shorebreak Lodge, a slightly chunky purée of pimientos and cheese plays well with Pat’s one-of-a-kind blend. Hurry down to 10 Wilmington Ave. You know how Rob can be - it could disappear at any minute.
Another unassuming little spot across the street from Shorebreak Lodge is Zogg’s. All of Mike and Anthony’s burgers are good, but the star of my show is the apple/bacon/brie burger. The apples are Granny Smiths, and the bacon is crispy. Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
There’s not enough ink here at the Cape Gazette for me to list all the first-rate burgers around town. So clip out this handy guide, pin it to your shirt, get out and explore. Time’s a’wastin’!