Charm City took home the top prize from the panel of judges at last night's Riverwalk Trust Burger Battle, while Rok: Brgr walked away again with the fan favorite award. If you had both burgers, you might wonder how two very different burgers could walk away as winners.
It comes down to this: Chefs dominated the esteemed panel of judges (which I was a part of). And while chefs typically seem to agree on little -- classical training is everything or nothing, depending on whether you have it -- most of them value high-quality, simple ingredients over
bold flavors and complicated sauces.
That's exactly what Charm City served up, an uncomplicated little burger on a sesame seed bun. It
looked maybe too simple, but it was the great patty and excellent bun
that sealed it. It's a surprising entry from the first-time Burger
Battle competitor, considering Charm City's menu includes all manner of
But Charm City is run by James Beard-nominated "Rising
Star Chef of the Year" Michael Saperstein. He must've known that to win
over a panel dominated by chefs, he'd need to serve up something
judges like to eat. It worked, because Charm City also nailed the
"Burger Nirvana" award for having two judges award the highest rank
Then you have Rok: Brgr's offering, which combined brie
cheese with bacon jam. It was a great combination, but it failed to win
over the judging panel. Too sweet, said a couple of the chefs. Fans
disagreed, and the gastropub had among the longest lines of the night.
personally, I can be won over by both styles, the simple burger with
nothing more than lettuce, tomato, onions, and ketchup is often my
favorite. Few places do that better than Charm City. I've had the Rok:
Brgr bacon jam, though, and if you like burgers, it's something you
ought to have. In fact, you ought to ask them to start jarring the
stuff, because it sure would be good on toast next to a couple fried
The judging panel was split into two groups this year for
the first time, since 20 burgers is too much for anyone to eat. My group
didn't officially taste either of the winners, although I had bites of both of
them anyway. They were the two best burgers I had last night, although Rosie's,
which won Best Bar & Grill Burger, deserves props for a fantastic
Cuban-style number with fresh pickles and garlic butter. Capital Grille rounded out the winners with the Best Knife & Fork Burger award.
the end, though, it works out well to have a chefy burger and crowd
favorite with bacon jam take the two awards -- both great burgers that
appeal to two different crowds.
Eric Barton is editor ofNew Times Broward-Palm Beach
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