RI’s Best Gourmet Burgers
Thursday, April 28, 2011
GRAND PRIZE: Tallulah on Thames, Newport
Unleash a genius like Chef Jake Rojas on a burger and prepare to be astounded. One of the most talented chefs to descend on the Ocean State in recent memory, Rojas's classic training, his appreciation for the best ingredients, and his deft touch with cooking techniques most often equals perfection. His talent is best displayed with menu specialties such as his poached egg atop pea greens with bacon, brioche croutons, and black truffle vinaigrette. But if you want to know what a gourmet burger has the potential to taste like, belly up to their upstairs bar and order the burger and fries. Freshly ground Blackbird Farms beef is cooked to perfection--such perfection, in fact, we've wondered if he cooks them sous vide (a technique that vacuum seals the food and cooks it in a warm-water bath to preserve the integrity of the ingredients). But we haven't asked. Not all secrets need to be revealed. Besides, we're too busy eating and enjoying to ask. 464 Thames St, Newport, 849-2433.
SECOND PLACE: Cook and Brown Public House, Providence
Cook and Brown and Chef Nemo Bolin burst on the local scene with flair in the spot that formerly housed Oak, on Providence's East Side. Chef Nemo wanted to make Cook and Brown a New England inspired gastro-pub with a fresh, locally sourced menu that changed almost daily. His hard work gave us not only another top-notch place to dine out in the capitol city but the mouth-watering C+B Burger. The symphony begins with fresh ground beef and hits all
THIRD PLACE: La Laiterie Bistro, Providence
Chef Matt Jennings has, in seemingly no time (not to him, we're sure), become a force in the Northeast food scene. This Vermont native and his wife Kate descended on Providence with Farmstead and quickly helped to set the standard (with a handful of other chef cohorts) for the fresh/local movement. Soon after came their bistro, La Laiterie, and word got around that it was home to one of the best burgers you'd ever have (the other obsession-worthy menu mainstays: the mac and cheese and the polenta fries). This year a James Beard Award nomination put Jennings in the company of the country's best. On a recent trip we ordered a half-pound Vermont, all natural burger that celebrates the fresh, local, organic movement on one plate. It came with sweet pepper jelly and out your choice of cheese...we stuck with a Vermont cheddar and couldn't have been happier. 184-188 Wayland Ave, Providence, 274-7177.
FOURTH PLACE: Fleming's Prime Steakhouse, Providence
Although a national chain, Fleming's has made a great impression on Providence's carnivore culture with tasty prime steaks and an expansive wine selection. We were drawn to Fleming's, however, for the prime burger. A steakhouse has an almost unfair advantage in the ground beef category because of the wide array of beef that's available to the chef and Chef Russell Skall uses this to our advantage. The prime burger with cheddar cheese and super-thick-cut peppery bacon is all that this humble classic should be. We also love the Prime Burger Bar, which features five different burgers served with house made onion rings and a mini wedge salad. Check out the ahi tuna "burger" which features impeccably fresh fish and a sweet and salty soy ginger sauce that might make you question your beef loyalty. 1 West Exchange St, Providence, 533-9000.
FIFTH PLACE: Luxe Burger Bar, Providence
When Chef John Elkhay and his Chow Fun Food Group decided to get in on the burger boom going on nationwide, he chose to turn his Downcity location, Citron, into a build-your-own-burger restaurant. While Luxe features several of their own burgers on the menu that always catch our eye (including one that uses two grilled cheese sandwiches as the bun...hello heart attack!), we always build our own. Grab a menu and a pencil and start checking off the options! On a recent foray with our friends we built a burger with medium-rare Kobe Beef, bacon, caramelized onions, pepper jack and chipotle mayo. Delish. And on the side? Addictive, golf-ball-size gorgonzola tater tots. 5 Memorial Blvd, Providence, 621-5893.
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