25 May 2006

Burger Brief #002
The Fox & Hound, Frankfurt

This is the best burger I have found to date in Frankfurt. It is also one of the pricier burgers. I realize that several of the steak houses may have burgers, and they may be pricier, and they may even be better, but I generally don't go to steak houses to eat burgers ... do you?

The Fox & Hound was one of the first expat hangouts I found in Frankfurt. Actually, I did not find it ... I was shown the aparment immediately above it. The nice german realtor lady said, "And it is just above an English Pub!" and I remember saying, "Yeah, but it's just above an English Pub." I like Pubs in general, but I don't care to live above one unless I am the owner. But it was worth a trip, and has continued to be so over the years.

The meat is hand-shaped ground beef, meaning that it is fresh and juicy. The bun is soft but moist enough that it stays together despite the juice. This particular model included cheese and bacon. The cheese was a bit thin, but the bacon was that nice English streaky bacon in a large slice ... none of those panty-waist thin American slices ... and it will bring out the bulldog in you to get a bite out of it, but it is good. The Chips (fries to those of you from Rio Linda) are big and tasty ... they think I am crazy, but I always ask for the Malt Vinegar for the chips. Strange American ways. And the slaw has good taste. Wish there was more of it, but most people don't, so whatever. There is also a little L&T on the side, but you add it to your burger at your own risk. Downer is that mustard comes in packets, but if you are OCD I guess that is OK.

The burgers start somewhere around EUR 7, and when you add cheese, bacon, etc. they can top EUR 10. With a large Coke and a tip, it came to EUR 16.00 ... pricey, but good. I could have had a Stout or whatever for probably little or nothing more than the Coke.

The atmosphere is pleasant, especially in summer when you can spill out to the surrounding garden. It get's crowded at lunch and dinner, and especially at game times, when they have footy on the telly, so the garden is a nice escape if you are not into that. I would say the mix of people is fairly balanced between expats as well as Anglophile Germans. On alternating Sunday's they have pub quiz that allegedly starts at 20:00 hours. If you are a Yank, you have a 1 in 200 chance of winning, but you will often get the ones that the pro's never get. And on weekends you can get the Full Monty, if that is your inclination.

They have morphed this one into several other locations, such as Fox & Fiddle in the middle of town near the Turmpalast, and the Fox & Grapes in Sachsenhausen. I've been to Fox & Fiddle, and it was equally good. Have not been to Fox & Grapes.

They had a web-site, but it is currently re-directing to an unrelated web-page.

Go there, watch a football game, and have a burger. Tell them Der Burgermeister sent you. You won't get anything for it other than a puzzled look, but they might realize why some crazy yank was pointing a camera at his lunch one day.

Fox & Hound
Niedenau 2
60325 Frankfurt
Tel: (069) 9720 2009

50° 06' 39" N
08° 39' 45" E

18 May 2006

Burger Brief #001
Benchmarking with Burger King

The Burger King rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate BK's Initial Public Offering ... Yes, IPO's, the buzz-word of the dot-com-days, are still hapening, but most people are back to not noticing. Click on the photo if you want to read more from the folks at the NYSE about the happy event (the photo is theirs). So what does that have to do with your quest for a good burger in Germany?

One of the things I considered in hunting for good burgers and writing about them is what benchmark I might measure them against.

When asked in an extremely unscientific poll, "Where do you go to find a Hamburger?," roughly 6 people out of 10 responded McDonalds. 3 responded Burger King. 1, a German, was smart enough to correctly answer Hamburg. Notice that this was a carefully constructed unscientific poll ... we did not ask where people go to find a good Hamburger.

One of the things the Partnerin and I agree on when it comes to American culture (We stipulate that America does indeed have culture and that it is not limited to yogurt), is that Burger King is the better of the two International brands. She took me to a McDonalds ... once ... In the former DDR, because that was all they had and she wanted a burger. I would have been happier with a Thuringer Bratwurst, since we were near Thuringen.

But I digress. Suffice it to say, I don't eat at McDonalds in the US, and I try to avoid it abroad. Don't get me wrong, they do a marvelous job of cranking out billions of fairly uniform burgers with very run of the mill taste. I would place McDonalds somewhere around the 50th percentile, which many of you might think would then be an appropriate standard against which you could benchmark other burgers.

I always found Burger King to be the better burger of the two majors. They have more taste ... the flame broiled burger taste which immediately kicks it, IMHO, into the the 75th percentile. That's what I want for a benchmark ... it's not good enough to merely be average. I want to answer the question, given the choice between Burger "A" and Burger King, where would I go? In other words, is the burger I am looking at at any one time in the top quarter of burgers, or could I simply settle on one of the Majors?

Having said that, here is Burger Brief #001, the Burger King Big King XXL meal with Country Potatoes and a Cola ... no I did not supersize it. The burger starts out with 222 grams of beef (nearly a half-pound for those of you in Rio Linda), and adding the cheese, lettuce, pickle onion, special sauce and a (fluffy but not dry) sesame seed bun, one would really need to be something of a glutton to supersize it. I have to laugh when they ask if I want bacon on it ... gilding the lilly, so to say.

"But Burger-Meister," you might ask, "isn't this still an industrial burger?" Yes, but this is a great example of the triumph of science and engineering over nature. The meat patties are fairly uniform in size, shape and texture like the crap dad used to buy in cases by the dozen at the discount-meat-packing-plant, but they somehow convey much of the taste of the ground-beef patties mom made for dad to incinerate in the back yard, complete with the flame kiss.

As noted before, the buns are soft, but not dry. Unless you really manhandle it, the bun will last through the last bite. You can pick this burger up and eat it from your hands. Finally, the combination of "special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickle, onions" are the classic BK round out to this supersized version of the Whopper. You can have it your way, but the standard way is not so bad.

The presenation is certainly lacking, but considering that I just unpacked it, it still doesn't look so bad. As for the atmosphere, well ... it is indeed industrial, although they do have a cute retro theme going on there ... sort of the post-war American burger hey-day.

All in all, it is a good burger to start with. And at EUR 5.49, a pretty good value in terms of eats, with no points lost for atmosphere or presentation.

I will admit that I had two other burgers in the series before I had this one. The first was so promising and yet so disappointing that I realized I needed a benchmark. The second was so good on several counts, but pricey. So those will come later with others.

I'll have to return to this with the appropriate scorings in the several dimensions. Sorry! Too many things on my plate these days.

10 May 2006

Der Burger Meister - Preview

OK, I realize it sounds a bit pretentious to call myself the Master of Burgers, but I could not think of a better name for a series of posts on the various Burgers one could find in restaurants, diners, pubs, bars, etc. in Germany (maybe even the world!). If you have a better idea or a contribution to the series, we can talk. First point of business out of the way.

I got the idea yesterday as I went up the road to shoot some golf and try a little diner in Friedberg. The Partnerin and I had passed it on a couple of occasions, but we never had the chance to try it out because it was closed (Strike-one, unfortunately). I also remembered a post by Jen @ Heisse Scheisse and the responses it got (check out "Feed Me"), and thought "Gee, there is some appetite for this sort of information."

So I was ready to launch straight into issue #1, and as I was laying out the first burger above I realized that if I were going to do this any justice, I really should do a little more pre-production conceptualization & planning. I don't claim to be an artist here, but I can at least do a little better, since I was "The Suit" for a production company in New York in the mid-'90s.

By the way, the differences between Der Auslander and Martha Stewart Living® are many, mostly money ... I don't spend $5,000 to lovingly produce each piece of artwork. It would look better with a food stylist, lighting director, and director of photography, but it's not so bad after you "Fix it in Post." There are also things like style, artistic talent, and other media resources, but why let those little things get in the way of the actual production of art ... er, I mean entertainment.

Stay tuned.

Martha Stewart Living is a registered trademark of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.

This, BTW, constitutes the second commercial use of "Der Burger Meister" by Mike B Productions in the classes IC 035 and IC 042 ... Go here to see the first.

Always read the Tiny Print

Der Burger Meister - Housekeeping

Some unknown has taken the URL "Burgermeister.blogspot.com" in 2004, but has only posted one test message since then.

Some fast-food guy in germany beat me to the punch on the clever URL "der-burger-meister.blogspot.com" but he doesn't have much of a concept going and he also seems to have let his site die after a week or so.

Some guy named Burgermeister is sitting on top of Burgermeister.de ...

And an internet squatter is sitting on the dot-com version of this.

Well, I guess I have to settle for "der-burger-meister.blogspot.com" ... for now.