Are there legitimate reasons for Bobby Flay’s latest Bethesda, MD restaurant venture to reconsider a few things? Maybe you should be the judge…
Nearly everyone knows who Bobby Flay is, the highly sought-after chef and television personality as the star of Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, Boy Meets Grill and many others. His latest food excursion is a small chain of fast-casual burger joints that line the east coast. Recently, I attended the opening of his sixteenth store, Bobby’s Burger Palace in Bethesda. This one was tough as it took me some time to think about and revisit. Usually, I’m the one with a knack for precise, quick and carefully thought-out choice making. This time, however, I was as confused as a parent watching his teenage son leave the house wearing mascara and skinny jeans.
There are ten different burger selections at Bobby’s Burger Palace (BBP). BBP prides themselves with letting you “Get Crunchified,” which means a free upgrade of a handful of potato chips on your burger. I thought about how many of us put potato chips on our peanut butter and jellies or French fries on our burgers as kids. Even so, this simple idea is actually really tasty and changes the texture of your sandwich completely. As I dined on my burger, Bobby Flay mentioned to us that his inspiration for this was his love as a kid for the way the cheese oozed off of his burger and all over his side of chips.
I was working on the L.A Burger (many of the burgers are named and flavored after different cities) which was described as avocado relish/watercress/cheddar cheese/ tomato. It was mediocre, but just that. The avocado relish was simply a fancy name play on guacamole. And cheddar cheese doesn’t match guacamole the way pepper jack cheese could. The next time I visited I had the Bobby Blue Burger which was well, blue cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Decent, but no more comment. Then, I returned for the Philadelphia Burger which totes a description of provolone cheese, griddled onions, hot peppers. Tastes exactly as it sounds. Personally, I think this burger could have been one of the cornerstones of BBP had they added an ounce or two of Philly steak meat on top. It could have provided a much more relative taste of “Philadelphia.” I also saw on the menu that there is a “Napa Valley Burger” which is topped with fresh goat cheese, watercress, Meyer lemon honey mustard. Though I did not get to try this one, I wonder how many people that just want to grab a higher than fast food quality burger care or know much about goat cheese in the first place. I’m sure it’s that one burger that of which a chef in the realm of Bobby Flay has to have sitting on their menu idly by in total solitude whistling a lonely tune as a status sort of thing. There is also a chart by the register that gives the description of how they cook their burgers and what each temperature means. You can order it medium rare and get a warm red center or even medium well and get a very small amount of pink. I see where Bobby is headed with this concept, but it is absolutely too much studying at the front register for the average burger eater. Personally, I prefer a medium burger at a sit-down restaurant, however, in a fast-casual environment, this slows down the process which ultimately hurts return clientele. This is a proven fact. A customer a couple of people in front of me asked the cashier her opinion on how to cook the burger, and she gave him a minute lecture on what to expect from each level of doneness. Ordering at lunchtime during peak hours must be like waiting around at the DMV with less than happy people.
I also cannot forget to mention that there is a selection of six sauces in plastic squeeze bottles at your table for you to use. As a spice and sauce lover, to begin with, I don’t lie when I say that zero of the sauces fit the composition of the burgers. In fact, they actually take away as they taste like the plastic bottle they sit inside. “Hey buddy,” I almost said to my neighbor, “you got to try this jalapeno plastic sauce. Green, spicy with plenty of plasticities.” And the acclaimed “Burger Sauce” really aspires to be A1, just with a few differences…and that familiar taste of plastic. I thought that maybe this was a one-time occurrence at the Bethesda, Maryland location, but then I drove to the Woodbridge, VA location and had the exact same experience with the lingering plastic flavor.
The milkshakes at BBP are a whole different animal. Dark chocolate, Blueberry-pomegranate, Vanilla Bean, Pistachio to name a few. Bobby Flay commented on how he devised the milkshakes, saying that he spent countless hours in his kitchen at home with a blender to get just the right consistency, and now he feels that he has the ideal milkshake. I agree. The milkshakes are unlike anything I have ever tasted before, and I will almost go as far to conclude that the pistachio milkshake could very well be one of the greatest shakes I have ever set my lips upon. Not too thick or thin with REAL flavors, nothing overpowering. Bobby Flay is correct to say that the consistency is hands down perfect.
So what am I saying here? For the most part, I have broken it down enough to tell you to go to Bobby’s Burger Palace for the milkshake, and if you are hungry enough, try a burger and form your own opinion. A burger and a side of fries will run you about $11.50 to $12.00. The milkshake may change your life, but the burger is not quite a certified Angus miracle for me. I guess a dream scenario fast-casual meal needs to involve Bobby’s Burger Palace connected to a Five Guys so you can get your milkshake with Bobby and head over for a burger next door.