Thursday, May 15, 2014

ROAM ARTISAN BURGERS FROM PASTURE TO PLATE TO STOMACH

Burgers, really, what more can be said about them that hasn't already been covered. It's meat, a bun, some toppings and some sauce. A fairly simple recipe that like pizza, when done right is really good, when done badly, well, add more mayo and it's still edible. I've had innumerable burgers over the years and while they've been done in most all conceivable ways, I can't really think of one that was so gawd awful that I couldn't finish it. Overcooked and a little dry, maybe, but usually I'd send that back to be redone or just sauce it up and chow on. Still even though burgers are continually written about I'm always up to trying one when I'm in the mood, such was the case that brought me to Roam Artisan Burgers and it's original location on Union Street. I remember hitting up this place way back when it first opened and at the time not being all that impressed. They were part of that locally sourced, all organic trend that was just beginning and I just took it as another place serving an overpriced thing that was no bigger than my hand. Now that they've had a few years under the belt (and two additional locations) I stopped by on a weekday afternoon when they weren't busy to give them another try.


The place was pretty much the same, though I think the television was new, which gave me something to watch since I was dining solo (yes table for one people!). The menu seemed about the same and burgers come in beef, turkey, veggie and bison--thus in my mind the reason they called the place roam. I've had bison before and it can be a low fat option but sometimes like buffalo meat it's a little on the dry side no matter how you cook it. Today I just wanted good 'ol beef and decided not to think too much about things and ordered one of their pre-made styles--the Heritage.


100% grass fed beef with applewood smoked bacon, fontina cheese, butter lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions and herb mayo on a toasted sesame bun. The burger was bigger than I remember or maybe I have bad memory, either way a good start. There is also plenty of bacon. The pieces were quite long and I broke them up to place evenly over the burger. It was also cooked right to pinkish red medium rare, thick and juicy. The bun was toasted with butter, another plus. The lettuce and tomato were fresh and crisp. There was a great sweetness from the onions that mixed well with the heroines of the mayo--kind of like a thick ranch with Italian herbs. All together it was very tasty and a pretty good burger compared to some around town. Top five good? Eh, not necessarily but still a good hearty chunk of meats perfectly cooked. My one drawback, the fontina was a bit on the light side as far as flavor and got lost with all the other flavors mingled here. Something like a sharp cheddar might have held up better, but that's a minor quibble and something I probably could have gotten changed--just need to remember for next time. At $8.50 a pop it's about in line for a burger this size in SF--I mean it was bigger than my hand. 

I like sides and they have a couple standard ones here but hey have this zucchini onion haystack I couldn't pass up. 


Cut thin, lightly battered, deep fried and salted up, this was a plentiful and crunchy bowl of goodness.  You know being from the South I'm just a sucker for deep fried and salted and these hit the spot. I liked that it was a mix of onions and zucchini so I could at least fool myself that I'm eating something healthy (ha!). But I liked the fact it was something besides fries. Plus there are more than enough in the bowl to share with two, though you know I ate them all myself. Whatever. 

Let's face it, Roam isn't re-inventing the wheel or burger here and sometimes you don't really have to. Half the battle to really making a good burger is in the cooking and here, at least for my burger they got that down. The rest it really comes down to personal tastes. I like bacon, I like grilled onions, I like cheese, I like buttered buns--they would have really had to go off the rails to mess this up and fortunately they didn't. You throw in some crunchy fried things and it's a hit. It was also tasty when I put some of the fried things on the burger to give just an extra crunch kick. Either way, if you like good, decent burgers I'm pretty sure your gonna like Roam.  




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