Thursday, October 9, 2014

Burger Quest 2014


  There's two fairly new burger joints in Colorado Springs, each touting that they're "the best".  Strong claims, and I, of course, am an official "burger connoisseur".  Few meet my A+ status grade, indeed, the only one that ever did that hasn't closed due to the owner dying of old-age yet is Kohala Burger and Taco on the main island of Hawaii of Rt.270 in the middle of nowhere.  I swear the cow had eaten a steady diet pineapple and flowers and Kentucky bluegrass it's entire, happy life.  It's worth the ridiculous flight just to go there for that one, simple $6 (now $9) burger.  God help us all it was that good.  Oh, Gracious Lord Jesus Christ Himself would grin in blessed approval and we shalt all feast upon the holy cows in Thy Mercy amongst the humpback whales frolicking in the Pacific distance as tears of joy flow from our eyes and crave not orangutans or breakfast cereals, Amen.

This cook.. is he.. in disguise.. The Lord Himself ?!  Gracious God I kneel before the LORD of All Burgers!

     Anyway, all other burger places are merely a tribute to Kohala.  There is no finer.  I violently recommend this place!   Succulent Brazilian bikini-clad-chipmunks feed you while singing Rush songs simultaneously rubbing your tummy at Kohala (aka God's Dining Table).

Inside of Bingo Burger.
    The two I'm reviewing today are Bingo Burger and The Skirted Heifer.  Interestingly, both are on (or very near) annoyingly-trendy Tejon Street in Colorado Springs.  I loathe Tejon Street because it's trying WAY too hard to be upscale and metropolitan when it's really sort of a pretentious strip like lipstick-on-a-pig.  Pricey restaurants and sad teeny clubs litter the street on both sides catering to a ho-dunk from Iowa looking for "class".  Top-shelf booze is Jack Daniel's and Bacardi.  Wells are unmentionably contained in screw-top Chinese-plastic 1-gallon cleaning-supply-sized jugs.  Music is an emphasis on bass as if we're on Key West during Spring Break.  One can't help but ask one's self, "Who indeed let the dogs out?"  Fights ensue after midnight in tween-cred pressed-shirts straight out of the package with boys that "pre-gamed" the evening by drinking cheap no-name tequila-shots beforehand, of course bringing firearms "just in case" often being the problem instead of the solution.  It's retarded, this street, set for age 18-22 (fake ID included).  If you like "stupid", go to Tejon, aptly named after the "badger".  Seemingly harmless, until you get tore-up by it.

Sorry-ass middle-agers dancing at Southside Johnny's on S.Tejon

Colorado Springs zombie-kids when the bars close at 1:45.  Note, this is in June. Not in costume.

  Bingo Burger is on the corner of Tejon and Bijou (more Tejon than Bijou).  Inside is the size of an elongated living-room.  It's an order-and-sit affair (the way Crave Burger comes-off but oddly, Crave wants you to have a waiter for some stupid reason).  Finding where to actually order is awkward, and the seats and wooden benches are placed exactly wrong, "long-wise" with chairs placed along 12 foot benches.  You have to work through the dining room area to get to order food.  Luckily, I went at 2pm so the nearby college kids were back learning about what teachers think is correct. 

  There was one trio of students discussing philosophy of what was true and right in one's own universe or some such pre-adult drivel that goes around and around but they were excited about it anyway.  Ten points for the passion of logic, minus 100 for not being useful in any way because the Orobus Circle of it never ends and in the meantime you go hungry due to the impracticality of it.  I say, with philosophy, take it lightly, then learn a worthwhile trade and get your hands dirty.  Lingering on it will make you go mad at best.  Seems they were on the cusp of it, so I hoped not too late, though they were wearing Gen-Zero garb, so I suspect all is lost for them in this tip-of-the-iceberg situation.  I dismiss them utterly.

Generation Zero without smart-phones.

I examined the menu beforehand.  I'll place it here (click it to make it larger of course):

   The idea with this place is that they use local grass-fed beef.  Their shtick is they add local Pueblo chilies some 40 miles south.  They dub it the "Bingo Burger".  It's quite popular in Pueblo where its first store opened.  I ordered one with cheddar and bacon, all-"garden" items, no onion (only because most places over-do it).  Basic fries (sweet-potato fries are over-rated these days, and a bit 10-years-ago for me) and for the "dipping sauce" I picked the Yelp-recommended Thai-ketchup.  Soda is Boylan's sugar-cane cola, which is above-average, and Bingo's set the self-serve fountain correctly, though you can also buy bottles of the stuff if you want (oddly repetitive).  Boylan's soda is very good, reminiscent of Throwback Pepsi or Coke-with-sugar (aka Mexi-Coke). 

Why is the bun greasy?  Bingo Burger, Colorado Springs.
   I was concerned because Yelp says the burger comes-out burnt.  Not mine.  I got one rare.  Meat consistency was decent but not great.  It was sitting (once picked up) in a large pool of red cow blood.  Not quite desirable.  Took a 7-napkin "bib" to soak it up, which it soaked right-through.  Burger is unseasoned.  Lettuce was upscale "Loose-leaf" species (lactuca savita) which is rather upscale for Colorado Springs.  Pickle slices were annoyingly garlic and pale like an insult.  Bacon was raw and salty and very fatty, though thick-cut.  Tomatoes were over-ripe but not spoiled and slightly over-acidic and mushy.  Bun was meh, though it tasted like a bakery gave it a go.  Burger fit well in the hand in the same way a Burger King double-bacon-cheeseburger might (for scale).  Fries were limp like Five Guys but with a lot less flavor.  Thai ketchup is ridiculously sweet and meant for a kindergartener.  They offered Heinz packets but I went for the house-ketchup to try.  It had cinnamon in it, which was odd, and a lot of salt.  Taste was alien, but I put it on the burger and it seemed flat.  Cheese was flavorless utterly.

  At first, I was upset because I didn't see any peppers, mistaking the red tomatoes for them, until I realized the Pueblo chilies were supposedly "inside" the burger meat mixed-in.  I couldn't even notice them and they weren't visible.  Burger tasted a tad "sour", perhaps by the microscopic peppers added.  I noticed a very slight heat (and a bit sour), perhaps a 12 on the Scoville Level so that was probably it I guess.

   The burger actually continued to cook as I ate it.  I myself do not give off more than 350 degrees of heat I'm pretty sure, but I understand red meat will continue to do so.  By the end of my getting through halfway, the burger became medium.  I wish they had held onto it an extra 5 minutes or so to allow it to settle.  This did not improve the flavor though, and my bill of a burger, cola, and fries was a slightly over-priced and unnecessarily expensive $17.  The owner and a cute chubby sweeper chipmunk-girl checked on on me a few times (oddly) to see how things were.  I only ate half, dumping the rest, and made my escape. 

Bingo Burger (Colorado Springs location)  Final Grade: D+
Angry owl does not like Bingo Burger Colorado Springs, CO


  Walking across the street 100 feet northward I worked my way to  The Skirted Heifer.  The place is about half the size of Bingo's.  The deal here is they like to chop-up the burger and mix it in with cheese.  The owner, Suzette was excited to see me.  I noticed they too used Boylan's soda.  She explained they stole her idea of using that brand because she was there first.  She was incredibly chatty (for some reason) and went over her organization happily.  Having owned Bambino's (the worst Italian restaurant in Colorado, though she's quite proud of it) for 30 years with her husband, she's expanded-out by herself to open Skirted. 

Suzette (co-owner) at Bambino's catering to a bowling party there.

Here's what one Yelp describer offered on Bambino's:

"Finally made it into Bambino's on a blustery Sunday afternoon. Place is right out of the 60s/70s - which is sometimes good and sometimes not so good.  Has that mom and pop feel, which I like. 

 They have what looks like a standard pizza/salad buffet all-you-can eat -option.

I opted for the ravioli, which was pretty standard, with boring, jar-tasting pasta sauce.  Their salad bar is what you would find at any basic all you can eat place (iceberg lettuce, and typical accompaniments.)

Service was ok.

Overall, probably not a place I would return. I make better pasta and pasta sauce at home
." -- Anonymous Yelp'er 2014

Skirted Heifer at lunch.  Photo taken from near the exit door (small place).

  I ordered a similar burger as Bingo's with bacon and cheddar.  They use local, grass-fed beef.  She insisted Bingo's used corn-fed and that's a no-no by her.  I'd disagree but whatever, though I did agree with her that the taste would be different, depending on a lot of factors.  The bacon was pecan-wood smoked so I was excited by that, and got lettuce and tomato as well as her "home-made" pickle on it.  They also make a home-made ketchup as well, and I got the "waffle fries".  She was very friendly and I guess this place is her baby, though I know Bambino's sucked.  I told her I went once or twice in 1993 and she was a bit taken aback.  Yeah, Suzette.  It ain't good.  I was concerned about my burger-fate, but I kept an open mind.  She chatted with me, "So what do you do?  Do you just go and try different restaurants?"  That's an odd question.  Who doesn't?  Weird.

"I may be retarded, but.. wtf, bitch?"

  The ebony chef handed me the burger in a basket and said with all his heart, "Sir, I truly, truly hope you enjoy this burger today."  Well then!  At least the place has heart.  Burger looked fine enough.  Similar in small size as Bingo's but with a standard sesame bun.  Fries looked beer-battered and long-cut and tasted like burnt funnel-cake with salt and pretzel batter.  Very weird. 

     Overcooked slightly to a correct well-done, though neither place how I'd like them cooked.  Burger tasted like manure!   Yikes!  I'm not kidding here.  It tasted the way manure smells.  Runny, diarrhea, animal feces. 

 There are some places where this would be a preferred, high-quality offering.  Bacon was possibly pecan-smoked, but was so salty and cooked black into long, very thin chips it was like eating pure salt-rectangles.  Simply over-cured.   I've never in my life tried bacon that salty and it was a concern.  Meat was not seasoned as I picked through it, trying to find non-shit-tasting bites.  I was quite concerned with the animal-feces flavor.  This is not normal.  It's as if Bossy went to the animal-shredder and took a massive diarrhea all over the butcher's room before she got blitzed.    

Butcher got blasted.

     A few nibbles around the meat were not as ca-ca flavored and tasted like absolutely nothing (which was a pleasant relief-treat).  She asked me what I thought about it.  I told her I'm not really impressed but she just blew me off at that point to attend new customers.  Pickles tasted indeed home-jarred but of course, quite garlicky.  I feel Burger King's pickles are the standard to which other burger's pickles should abide.  Ketchup was flat and Hunt's-like but not as flavorful.  Lettuce was shredded iceberg in the same vein as Bambino's salad-bar.  Tomatoes were generic and forgotten.  Bun was just a bun. 

D├ęcor was an odd western motif with saddles for bar-stools and some wooden tables.  Music was some random western forgettable stuff.  Initials BF scored into the wood, probably standing for "bad food" (4 life).  Not certain.

I wanted to like this place because of the intensity of Suzette and her cook but, alas, even though I watched him cook the 1/3rd pound patty and sure-enough he did not take a massive ass-dump on it, there just wasn't any soul in it.  She admitted (because I asked) that the burger is not seasoned except a dash of salt/pepper/chili-powder after cooking as a sort of spice-mix.  I think it was added in the same style a bartender will whisk Vermouth over a Martini's Gin such that the essence of Vermouth molecules share the same air-space for an extra-dry Martini without actually pouring any in the glass.  Indeed, I think they just waved the spice-mix nearby the burger, not on it, per-se.  I tasted only salty, burnt bacon and shit-meat and garlic-pickle-roundhouse kicks to the mouth.  Sigh.  I dumped most of it. $23 for a burger, fries, and a cola. 

Burger-Chihuahua does not approve.

The Skirted Heifer  Final Grade: D+


Epilogue: My final thoughts... of anger!

I wanted to like both places, but I could not.  I could not like either.  Both fringing on the eclectic, like some neo-places that try to "spice-up" something simple.  One would think it's not hard to make a burger.  It is.  As Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012) the ingredients are simple and expertly prepared correctly if done right.  I've been to a lot of burger joints in my day, such as the supposedly famous Cherry Cricket in Denver which ends-up just being another Crave Burger with a bar-atmosphere and some odd toppings (such as corned-beef, wing-sauce, and raspberry jam).  Both disguise that they make a horrible burger with "fluff" and "razzle-dazzle".  Idiots rave over it.
Purity in burger love.

Actual "Ninja Joe" burger!
A plain, bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and pickle should be the expert-balance.  Truly, just cheese should be the purist's method.  From that point, from that perfection you can tenaciously and scientifically add things (at great peril) like a taste-bud reverse Jenga game. Almost no one in Colorado can seemingly get this right.  BALANCE BALANCE BALANCE! 


   Don't try to freak me out with odd sauces and weirdo spices!  "More Siberian saffron and aged Allspice with your burger sir?"  STOP THAT!  Meat must be pre-seasoned and of high-grade.  Cheese must be high-quality.  Bun must be dense and rich (or at least flattering).  Most places make a burger as a quick afterthought.  When a place makes a burger it's main item, it better get it right.  Then again, it's all a matter of taste.

  Recommendation:  For the same price in this town of Colorado Springs, get the burger at The Famous: A Steakhouse (don't get the steak or anything else) and get their home-made cheesecake for dessert (and ask for the white-chocolate g'nosh sauce on the side).  If Mackenzie's Chophouse is offering their Kobe Beef burger (imported, and very seasonal) then get that.  If you're in Denver, get the British beef burger at Pints and a pint of ale with a fine 18 to 30 year-old scotch and an aged cigar for dessert.


Oh.. sorry.. and one for the ladies..

What's "orange's" right hand doing there?!

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful article!! Yeah, this is top most famous restaurant in Hawaii. I always eat double burger with cocktail. I tried to find same menu in San Francisco restaurants and could never find it? I am amazed if no one thought ever to present it here.