BrewBurger ©

Burger menu craziness a sign of desperation

It’s not good enough anymore for a restaurant to offer great food, great prices and great service. Today, more and more diners, pubs and just plain burger joints are struggling to find some way to raise themselves above the noise in their overcrowded foodservice niche…

Mac Burger - © rockitburgerbar.comThe ‘Mac & Cheese Attack’, $15. Also from Chicago’s Rockit Burger Bar.

They’ve tried unique signature dishes, mono-focus menus (i.e.- burgers only – but dressed 27 ways), cultural cuisine (Thai Burgers; Curry Burgers; Korean Bulgogi Burgers; etc.) and other variations of the old, “Hey! Look at me! I’m different” routine.

But, once all the obvious novelty approaches have been tried… Where do you go next?

Well, a restaurant in Chicago, IL, has launched what it says is a unique new burger – steeped in three kinds of Beer. And the marketing hype goes even further: You have to show proof of drinking age to buy one. What a bunch of nonsense! Alcohol evaporates at temperatures well below that needed to cook a burger patty to medium doneness (minimum internal temp. 160 F), the minimum safe doneness level mandated by many health departments around the continent these days.

But there’s more!

It seems there’s a new crazy-burger trend in the wind. Whereas it has, heretofore, been taboo to fiddle with the bun too much, new entrepreneurs – who have plumbed the depths of their patty and topping creativity – are trying things like Bagel and Cro-nut buns, and burgers served between flat, crusty layers of fried Mac and Cheese or Asian Sticky Rice.

My take? It’s all just more Beer Burger-type hype, with a lot of insecurity – or even desperation – behind it.

As we said earlier in this post…

The Burger sector is currently overpopulated. Restauranteurs have been driven to do some pretty crazy things, as mentioned above, to compete. Time to diversify away from the Burger monoculture. The joints that are really popular these days are concentrating on cultural and regional cuisines the operators know well and enjoy preparing.

By the same token, if you want seafood, go to the shore. And if you want Sticky Rice, go to Chinatown… It’s just common sense!

~ Maggie J.