Bobby’s Burger Palace: Missing the Flay-vor

Chef Bobby Flay seems to be everywhere I turn. There are slim pickings on television right now, so I find myself watching the Food Network ad nauseum.  There is Grill It with Bobby Flay, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Boy Meets Grill, and the recently concluded season of Food Network Star.  Bobby can also be seen on Iron Chef America.  He’s even guest starring on Entourage this season as a suitor for Mrs. Ari, and now he is appearing in my dreams.

That’s correct.  I had a dream that Bobby Flay was at my house.  I have no idea what he was doing there.  I tell him that I have just returned from Bobby’s Burger Palace and that the burger meat needs more seasoning.  He nods wisely and says, “I told them that.”

Of course, you did Bobby.  You are a judge on Food Network Star and you created that ridiculous show on NBC called America’s Next Great Restaurant, which I am kicking myself for watching, particularly since the restaurant that was selected was shut down in no time.  But I digress. The point is, how many times have I heard you criticize someone for not having enough flavor in their food?  Enough said.

Let’s rewind a bit. Two friends and I decide to take the Metro downtown to check out the recently opened Bobby’s Burger Palace.  I am grateful to have friends who are as enthusiastic as I am about testing out a new hot spot.  One even keeps kosher,  and her advance research tells her that she will be eating a grilled cheese sandwich as Bobby does not have a veggie burger on the menu.  Shame on you, Bobby Flay! The menu does offer a turkey burger in deference to non red-meat eaters.

The brightly colored decor strikes the senses immediately.  It’s fun and fanciful and at the same time it’s a comfortable place. Before arriving I have pre-selected the Santa Fe burger with queso sauce, pickled jalapenos, and blue corn chips. My friend and I decide to share, so we also order the Napa Valley burger with goat cheese, watercress, and Meyer lemon honey mustard.

BBP’s unique twist is that you can “crunchify” your burger.  This involves adding a layer of potato chips to your burger. Since we have corn chips on the Santa Fe, I don’t even suggest crunchifying.  This may be a tactical error.  But we’re also sharing sweet potato fries, onion rings, and a blueberry-pomegranate shake between the three of us.  I can’t even suggest that we add more calories to our meal.

We like the Santa Fe burger just fine.  The queso sauce is applied sparingly and the portion of chips is not  overwhelming.  This is a good thing.  The jalapenos add punch.  This is important because the meat doesn’t taste like much.

Bobby’s Burger Palace Santa Fe burger

The toppings on the Napa Valley burger are sparse.  I think this would have tasted better with a touch more goat cheese and honey mustard.

Bobby’s Burger Palace Napa Valley burger

The sweet potato fries have the right amount of crunch.  The accompanying honey mustard horseradish sauce is good, but I prefer the chipotle ketchup that is available as a condiment.

I find the onion rings a little too greasy and the batter has a hard time sticking to the onion. The blueberry-pomegranate shake is a nod to healthy eating.  Yay fruit!

The grilled cheese is tasty but nothing special. Bobby, if you are going to restrict your vegetarian options to a grilled cheese sandwich couldn’t you make it a little more interesting?  You could have borrowed some ideas from one of the contestants on America’s Next Great Restaurant who wanted to open a restaurant offering only grilled cheese.  

Bobby’s Burger Palace grilled cheese

Bobby Flay is about fla-vor.  You see it in his recipes, in his advice to wannabe Food Network Stars, and when he is throwing down his competitors on television.  This is why I am disappointed in the burgers at Bobby’s Burger Palace.  Something is missing on the burger itself. Topping aren’t enough to cover up the key ingredient.

I can’t help but compare BBP to some of the other burger places around town.  I do like it better than Shake Shack (although I haven’t been to the DC location).  But I don’t think it’s nearly as good as BGR: The Burger Joint as you can see from my review An Unforgettable Burger.

Bobby Flay will be in town on September 21 when he is scheduled to speak at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in DC  He will be promoting his book Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook.  I hope that he spends some time in his new DC digs checking out the food.  A few corrections and Bobby Flay could be the man of my dreams.

(Side note: I have been to Bar Americain in New York’s theater district for a late night dinner, and enjoyed the food enough to want to go back another time.)

Bobby’s Burger Palace, 2121 K Street, NW, Washington, DC
My rating (on a 1-5 scale):  3.0
Bobby's Burger Palace on Urbanspoon 

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