One of the hallmarks of the neighborhood pub is the all-American burger. I am on a quest to find the perfect burger. The beef must be well-seasoned while the plump patty must be seared on the outside and medium-rare inside. I detest the thick, fancy rolls so many places are using. More bread, less beef is not my mantra.
Several months ago, I ate an almost perfect burger at Devil’s Den. From time-to-time, I order a burger at a neighborhood pub.
I was not sure Blind Pig, located in bustling Northern Liberties, served burgers until I glanced at the menu posted outside. This charming place was well-lit, had two televisions for sports viewing and a delightful bartender who told me his sister and brother-in-law own the restaurant.
“It is a mom-and pop-operation,” the bartender said with a smile.
I enjoy German pilsner-style beer and sipped a pint ($5) on the bartender’s suggestion. He gave me a sample and I liked it immediately. Edward arrived and ordered a Bluecoat martini ($11). We settled in, discussed the menu and watched college basketball.
The moderately priced menu is small, yet well-crafted with appetizers, salads, sandwiches and a few entrées, as well as a some vegetarian options.
Arugula salad ($8) was a deep bowl filled with baby arugula leaves and lardoons of crisp bacon. Although it was slightly overdressed, it imparted a nice flavor.
The mixed green salad with diced beets ($8) was a take-off on all of the beet salads that have landed a place on restaurant menus within the past 15 years. Ordinary bagged mesclun lacked crunch although the spinach leaves and green and red oak lettuces were fresh. A bit of romaine would have added texture to the dish. Tiny cubes of cool beets mingled with the greens and not-too-sweet candied walnuts. The addition of Gorgonzola cheese melded with the dressing quite nicely. As with the former salad, this one was slightly overdressed. We never had to reach for the salt and pepper.
Fried oysters find their way into sandwiches in a classic po’ boy, but they have been popular here since Colonial times. The fried oyster sandwich ($12) was built on buttery, toasted, good-quality white bread and included plump, nicely seasoned fried oysters; crisp bacon; mustard; a piece of romaine; and a slice of tomato. Oysters were the star here, but Edward and I felt the strong mustard and even the addition of bacon detracted from their naturally sweet, slightly salty flavor. A slathering of tartar sauce and a hint of freshly squeezed lemon juice would do the culinary trick. Still, the sandwich was satisfying. A mound of crisp, hot fries came with it.
Since I am on a burger quest, I had to try the one served up at Blind Pig ($10). This was a bargain as many restaurants are charging up to $15 for a burger. You had a choice of cheese and bacon for an additional $2.
I ordered it medium-rare with cheddar cheese. I would have enjoyed a better sear on the outside, so an extra minute or two on the grill would have locked in the juices. The beef was not seasoned enough to my taste and the cheese melted almost to a liquid state, but it added flavor.
I am very picky about the bun or roll that keeps my burger together. The ratio of beef to bread here was fine. The roll was soft and not too thick. We have all tasted dreadful, ghastly greasy french fries. Blind Pig served them up hot and salty. Edward thought there was a bit too much salt, but this was a matter of personal taste.
Service was excellent. As the evening wore on, the chef/owner came into the bar and dining room to help to serve as The Blind Pig was nearly filled by the time we left. It was a tasty, cheerful way to spend a few hours on a bitterly cold evening.
Two-and-a-half tips of the toque to The Blind Pig.
702 N. Second St.
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