A Better Backyard Burger @ City Beer Hall
This makes me very happy. Grassfed burgers are popping up in more places. It seems like just yesterday when I remember the first one coming to Albany. Maybe there was one on the scene before that, but if that’s the case, it escaped me.
Recently, I was at the City Beer Hall with AOA Greg. I had not been since they had launched their newest menu, and I had a tough decision ahead of me. I was trying to make more healthy choices. It was a hot day. And I knew that I was going to have a big meal later that night. Greg ordered the massaged kale salad. My plan was to eat something light and summery.
But staring up at me from the page, locking me in its unrelenting grasp was the 518 Burger. It’s hand-packed Kilcoyne grass-fed beef with Grafton one-year aged cheddar, Bibb lettuce, tomato, spicy pickles and hand cut fries.
Given that I have committed to highlighting local restaurants that put higher-quality ingredients on the menu, how could I not try this? I’d be compelled to write about this regardless, simply because of its presence in the Capital Region. So I figured I better just take the burger bullet for the sake of the blog.
I’m glad I did.
Sometimes you just want a good honest burger, made with the high-quality ingredients that you would use at home, with a crisp mound of french fries and a great beer. All too often grassfed burgers get tarted up. They also tend to be relegated to the fancier restaurants around the area, and command sums more befitting steaks than ground meat.
But this is almost everything I want in a burger. It’s simple and it’s classic. Kilcoyne beef is great and served at some of the best restaurants in town. Grafton cheddar is a solid regional choice, and even the Bibb lettuce comes from a local source. The bun is beautifully toasted, and the thick hand formed patty fits snugly in its confines.
Most importantly, it’s served without pretense. Yes, there is a waiter. But there are no fine linen tablecloths at the City Beer Hall. They have picnic tables, inside and out, with no tablecloths at all.
Did I mention the whole thing was just $10? It’s also delicious!
Plus there are always plenty of beers to choose from to help wash it down. And you can even get them in half pints, which is perfect for a workday lunch. It’s a little bit of a treat, but so long as you pay attention to the ABV it won’t send you back to the office with a buzz. It will simply be a great way to clear the fat off your palate in between bites.
I did get to talk with chef Dimitrios Menagias after my meal, and he was explaining the importance of hand-forming the burgers. He was going for something like what you would eat in your own backyard. Other operators get pre-formed patties from Kilcoyne, and they has a denser, less satisfying texture than these more loosely packed specimens.
It’s really exciting to have another grassfed burger option in the area, and as far as I’m concerned, this is now the burger to beat.
Until someone can come up with an equally tasty $8 grass-fed burger, that is.