Welcome to Burger Town
When I was asked to do a report on the best burger in the Valley I didn’t think about what a potentially monumental task this could be. It’s not like I was supposed to go out and do a comparative taste test between a few sushi restaurants or Italian places. No, I was given a much more difficult task, because nearly every restaurant in town has a burger, and all of them have a reason to be proud.Still, someone had to get out there and take on the challenge of finding out which burgers were the best short of trying them all, I began by finding out which burgers had a reputation around town as being fine examples of their kind. Then I spent the last couple weeks trying burgers everywhere that I go and that’s a lot of burgers.To try and be scientific about this process, I have eaten every burger the same way: Medium, with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion. So technically I just tested cheeseburgers. What can I say? I love cheese. I left off any other condiments except in special cases, as noted.The Gas HouseEvery burger hunt must begin somewhere, and mine began in Edwards. When I asked around Edwards the first words out of most people’s lips were “Gas” and “House”. Located on the Northwest corner of the intersection in Edwards, the Gas House offers a half-pound of certified Angus that is sure to please. The patty is well seasoned and the folks over there know what Medium is. It also comes with seasoned curly fries, another bonus. My only qualm is that my bun kind of fell apart, but that’s why man invented napkins. All in all it was a great burger and well worth the price. They also offer buffalo burgers which I’m sure are even better, but they didn’t fit my criteria so you’ll have to find out for yourself. The Gas House has “Cheeseburger in Paradise” night every Wednesday with 20 percent off of burgers and drinks.The Mustang Bar and GrillAlso in Edwards, is The Mustang Bar and Grill. There must be something to this Angus thing, because the Mustang’s burger is also a half-pound of Angus beef on a Kaiser roll. Frankly speaking, this is a good burger. It is priced competitively at $9 and on special Monday nights for only $5.The Grouse on the GreenThe Grouse on the Green in Cordillera also offers a great $5 burger on Thursday nights. Normally priced at $9, the patty is once again a half-pound of certified Angus beef, this time served on an onion roll with waffle fries. I stuck to my four main ingredients, although I was tempted to go for Maytag bleu cheese, bacon, mushrooms and sauted onions. The bleu cheese runs an extra buck or so, but that isn’t available everywhere. It isn’t on the menu, but if you ask nicely Chef Phil Cohen will send you out a double cheeseburger that is so big it’s laughable. I laughed.Paddy’s Bar and GrillPaddy’s in Eagle-Vail is also a great place to get yourself a burger. For some reason they seem to be able to cook a burger perfectly. It must be practice. They’ve got a burger/beer special every day from 3 p.m. ’til 6 p.m. (bar only) for only $5.95.LarkspurLast, but certainly not least is Larkspur. This is, without a doubt, the best burger I’ve had since I moved to the area. The secret ingredient: love. Sounds corny, but it’s no joke. Chef Mark Curran took me back behind the line to give me an idea of what kind of thought and preparation goes into each burger. My _ lb angus burger cooked as I watched his staff get ready for service, forming each seasoned patty themselves, with a thin yet wide pat of matre d’ butter in the center. He told me it has to be thin so the burger doesn’t have a big pocket, and wide in order to hit the whole patty. Then he buttered the bun and threw it on the griddle. I’m from Wisconsin, so if you want my attention, add butter. They chiffonade the lettuce and cut the tomatoes and red onion very thinly. This, he said, is done so that you won’t pull all of the lettuce, tomato or onion out of the bun.Then Chef Curran threw two slices of cheddar on my burger and I figured I was ready to sink my teeth in. But he was not done yet. At Larkspur, they make their own mayo. He told me that upon trying many versions, they had decided to make mayo come standard. At this point he had planted the seed of doubt. I absolutely hate mayo. I hate it. I wouldn’t so much as open up a jar of the stuff, even it meant I could win the love of a beautiful lady. Seriously, I hate mayo.But I also hate to second-guess a renown chef, so I kept my yapper shut. He set me up with some homemade fries and I was ready to dig in. Despite my phobia of mayo, I found it delicious. If you can make a burger so well that I will love it despite a fiery hatred for one of it’s ingredients, then you win. Larkspur is currently running a daily hamburger/beer special for $10. VT By Bill Davis
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