What's the next best thing to beer, you might ask? Why, grilled meat, of course! So when a burger battle competition came to Boca Raton for the second year in a row, the opportunity couldn't be passed to taste the creations of some of the area's most competitive restaurants.
Braving the Seattle-like drizzle that saturated downtown Boca Raton Saturday night, hundreds of food festival enthusiasts made their way to Sanborn Square to experience the Second Annual Boca Burger Battle, an all-out war of burgerdom that pits restaurant against restaurant, chef against chef. Ok, it's not quite that bloodthirsty, but the participating vendors did pull out all the stops to show the people of southern Palm Beach County a thing or two about burgers.
As the rain fell, the grills flared, with creations such as Red's Backwoods BBQ's chorizo and cheese offering, or Gimme a Burger's pulled pork infused beef patty topped with pork belly, house BBQ sauce and pickled onions on texas toast. Morton's Steakhouse came to the battlefield with guns blazing, firing off chimichurri burgers; angus grass-fed beef topped with garlic aioli, chimichurri and a thick slab of fresh artisanal swiss cheese.
In addition to these sort of 'standard' burgers (of which I am hesitant to call them that, as what can be considered standard at an event like this is normally what you'd find on the high-side of a restaurant's burger menu), some restaurants took the opportunity to experiment. Ex-pe-ri-ence catering took a black angus burger, topped with with bacon mushroom jam, crumbled Boursain cheese, and had the thoughts of a madman by placing it all between buttermilk waffles.
Kapow! Noodle Bar put an asian spin on the burger game with a refreshing beef slider, sliced cucumbers, a slaw that had cream cheese, and served inside what appeared to be a sliced steam bun.
As a noted lover of all things meat, I was surprised and humbled by the offering by Collin Cook of 4th Generation Organic Market, located in Royal Palm Plaza. Not only did the creation win Best Alternative Burger, but my carnivorous heart as well. "This was my take on a soy burger," Chef Cook explained. The patty was a mixture of vegetarian items I was sheepishly not familiar with, filled with a perfect amount of pesto, "balsamic garlic aioli, and served on a homemade bun." They even gave away all 700 samples a good 90 minutes before the end of the contest; it was that popular.
Catering company Potions in Motion also brought a little something different, with a truffle burger called 'Dark and Stormy' (appropriate for the evening). This buttery, juicy entry was topped with alfalfa sprouts and paired with a ginger beer cocktail shooter set right on top. They definitely wanted you to be satisfied.
Beyond the burger fare, the festival was lined with tents giving out food items ranging from onion rings to orange juice, dozens of wine varieties to Haitian pikliz. Key lime cupcakes from the Homemade food truck were an especially welcome treat.
But what of the beverages to accompany such an event? The wine selection was impressive, but beer was hard to find. There were only two vendors serving up the malty suds: Shake Shack and Holy Mackerel Brewing. The former poured some of their exclusive Brooklyn Brewery made pale ale, Shackmeister Ale, while the later served up their popular Golden Special Ale and their Mack House brew Psycho Phish. Holy Mackerel and Mack House owner Larry Hatfield said he has worked with the event organizers before, but being one of the only beer suppliers means they'll "get good feedback [on the beers], but we'll run out quick."
And finally, the part you've been waiting for: who are the winners of the 2013 Boca Burger Battle and who is able to parade around Boca with the trophy proclaiming that yes, they are the undisputed champions of grilled ground beef? With a drumroll, the winner of the top, judged Grillmaster award is... Bite Gastrotruck! Congratulations to the team.
Check out the rest of the winners below, and hopefully next year's event will be rain free.
Community Chip Tally
3rd - Potions in Motion
2nd - Rebel House
1st - Morton's Steakhouse
3rd - Shake Shack
2nd - Potions in Motion
1st - Bite Gastrotruck
Best Alternative Burger
4th Generation Organic Market
Beer things in your Twitter feed - Follow me @DougFairall
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