smashed burger fries

(Almost) smashed burgers and crispy homemade fries

Last night, we had a couple friends over for dinner. The weather in Chicago was kinda gross, and we had burgers on the mind, so we attempted a few recipes from The Food Lab, and the results were delightfully delicious.

smashed burger fries

slow-cooked fries, fry sauce and an (almost) smashed burger. look at those crispy fries!!!

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s smashed burger came out delicious, though not quite as smashed as we’d hoped. My guess is that in fear of burning things, we didn’t kick up the heat quite high enough, so the burgers puffed back up a bit. We’ll attempt again and update with results.

We topped the burgers with onions (under the cheese = game-changer), Organic Valley American cheese (which is apparently a thing, and actually really great on burgers. It tastes like American and cheddar cheese had a baby, and is almost as melty as American, but not at all artificial and doesn’t look or feel like plastic), Kenji’s fry sauce, and cucumber muchim from Tyler Kord’s A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches (which is hands-down the most entertaining cookbook I’ve read in years).

The fries were also from The Food Lab–we opted for Joel Robuchon’s slow-cooked fries because they promised to be a 2 in effort and 8 in flavor. They tasted like they were from a restaurant!!–a first in fry-cookery for me.

Sidenote: In the book, Kenji suggests using a wok to fry in, because the wider upper lip reduces potential for boiling over (which if you’ve never had that happen–it’s a little terrifying). Worked great.

messy kitchen

the aftermath. worth it.




Chicago burger battle

Who doesn’t like burgers? No one. Shooooot, even vegetarians want to get down with some burger action.; that’s why you see a vegetarian option on almost every burger menu these days.

So, of course, we decided that it was our mission to eat a bunch of burgers in Chicago and share our thoughts with you, dear readers, all in one place, so you can navigate this city’s burger options with ease. We’ll share our thoughts on what we think are key burger needs, but the bottom-line baromoter will be: Would I have been happier with Wendy’s?

(Yes, it’s fast food but damn, it’s the one of the best fast food burgers out there.)

Judgement criteria:

  • Presentation: Does it look appetizing?
  • Eatability: Can I actually fit this in my mouth?
  • Burger Seasoning: Salt, pepper, and seasoning levels.
  • Temp/Doneness/Juiciness: It is cooked properly, is it dry?
  • Combination: Bun, Cheese, Toppings (Does it add or detract from the overall experience of the burger? Especially for “signature” burgers.)

Chicago burger battle


Current Standings: Rocking Horse>Standard Bar

The Rocking Horse

-The Bacon Jam Burger. (sorry, no picture. It’s a dark place)

  • Presentation: Good size, not so tall that we couldn’t eat it but also felt like we got our money’s worth.
  • Eatability: Solid two hander.
  • Burger Seasoning: 9/10 Tasted meaty and had great seasoning.
  • Temp/Doneness/Juiciness: We ordered it medium but it was closer to medium rare. Not the worst thing in the world.
  • Combination: 7/10. Flavors were great but it was the texture was one note. It’s served w/out a garden so it was lacking in any kind of crunch. Throw on some crispy bacon and I’d inhale this beast.
  • Wendy’s? Maybe. If we’re just going for food, yes. If food and beers then no.

Bottom line: All in all it’s a good burger for the price ($11) with the two-dollar truffle tots (which are basically crack BTW). The reason you’d come here besides the crack tots is undoubtedly the atmosphere. It’s located in Logan Square and has a dive bar/hipster rock vibe that makes this a great joint to get a beer and burger with buds.


Standard Bar

Cortland Burger

– The Cortland St. Burger.

  • Presentation: Impressive, tall, slightly intimidating.
  • Eatability: Initial impression was WTF? But it worked.
  • Burger Seasoning: 4/10. Was bland. Was lacking in the typical beef flavor.
  • Temp/Doneness/Juiciness: Cooked properly, but a little cold. More watery than juicy.
  • Combination: 6/10. Bites with the bacon were best, needed the salt. The rest of the toppings were fairly typical. Cheese difficult to detect. Bun was good quality.
  • Wendy’s? Yep. Too expensive for the experience.

Bottom Line: Overall it worked but was nothing out of the ordinary. We picked it because it had won the 2012 Chicago Magazine award and 2013 Roscoe Village Burger Fest award although I can’t really see why… Maybe they produced a better burger for the event. It wasn’t busy when we were there.