Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SP Burger (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

At Section B of Terminal 1 of Guarulhos International Airport, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

SP Burger looks like an American-style fast food chain, but the only one I found was at the international airport. It has the usual choice of hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and shakes.

I got the Combo Cheddar Bacon (without cheddar) for a measly R$21.90 ($13.15)-beat that Geneva! The burger comes on a brown bun and has a thick but very salty patty (not pure beef) and a sad piece of bacon. There is no sauce on it, but you can get ketchup, mayo or mustard. The McDonalds-type fries were undercooked.

VERDICT: 44/100
I would say that SP Burger is better than Bob's Burger, but that is as far as I would go. Next time I want fast food in Brazil, I will probably go to McDonalds. Nuff Said!

Hamburguinho (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima, 2883 - São Paulo, 01452-000, Brazil, T: +55 11 3078-9461

Hamburguinho (little hamburger) is a new chain of hamburger restaurants that is situated between a fast food and 'real' restaurant. They currently have some 5-10 places in Sao Paulo. I went to the one in the expensive area of Faria Lima, which looks like a hole-in-the-hole with a kind of American setting.

I ordered the Super Two, i.e. a double burger with fries, for R$29 ($17.40). It included two patties, a fried egg, several pieces of bacon, lettuce, tomato, and fries. The fries were well fried, but a bit dry (and they have no acceptable mayo). The patties were a bit dry, but the whole burger was quite tasty (it could have used a nice sauce though).

VERDICT: 71/100
Acceptable burger and fries, particularly if you prefer ketchup over mayo. Very expensive, but probably affordable for the area.

Milk & Mellow Burgers (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Avenida Cidade Jardim 1085 - Itaim Bibi, Sao Paulo, 01453-000, Brazil, T: 11-3168-4516

I arrived in Sao Paulo during a tropical rain storm, so I didn't want to walk to far. Milk & Mellow Burgers was close to my hotel, so I went there. It was my first introduction to the essence of Sao Paulo: overpriced! As none of the six waiters in the fancy restaurant spoke English, I had a hard time navigating myself through the Portuguese menu. Despite the name, Milk & Mellow Burgers has an extensive menu with various burgers, sandwiches, salads, meats, shakes, and sucos (juices).

I went for a double burger special (= onion and pickles), mayo, and a warm tomato sauce (the waiter said it was ketchup) -- everything cost extra! I also got a portion of fries and a mixed juice. This came to a grand total of... R$48.40 (ca. $29)!!! The fries were not really potatoes and grossly undercooked (I barely touched them), while the mayo tasted like herbal butter. The burger tasted good, but there is simply too much on it (tomato, onion, gross mayo). The patties are juicy and the warm tomato sauce give a nice flavor. The juice is fresh but a it watery.

VERDICT: 62/100
A pretty good burger, but the rest is poor, and everything is simply way too exensive... even for Sao Paulo.

Bob's Burger (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

At a mall in Rio de Janeiro, but they have 610 restaurants throughout Brazil.

Bob's Burger is the first fast food in Brazil with 610 restaurants in all states of Rio and a couple in Portugal, Chile and Angola. They clearly try to knock-off McDonalds, which incidentally also has many restaurants in Brazil.

I got the Big Bob meal for R$15.25 (or $9.15), but substituted the soda for a chocolate shake (at extra cost). The Big Bob is their Big Mac rip-off, but tasted gross (I even doubt it was pure meat); despite that it was freshly made (without cheese). The fries were cold and saggy, while the shake was far too sweet.

VERDICT: 36/100
Bob's Burger is well below McDonalds. Nuff Said!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bourbon Street Distillery (Indianapolis, Indiana)

361 Indiana Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46204, T: 317-636-3316

Bourbon Street Distillery is one of my favorite eateries in Indy. It is a crossover between a sports bar and a low-key American restaurant. The Distillery doesn't 'distill' anything, but they do seem to have their own bbq oven. To be honest, some of their food is so good that I always eat the same.

There is only one starter that I ever had at Bourbon Street, and that is the chicken tenders ($6.95). Although the size and weight at times differ, there always are six tenders, freshly breaded and perfectly grilled. The batter is fairly light, between classic American breading and Japanese tempura, while the honey mustard sauce is thick and absolutely delicious.

One of the problems I have is that the chicken tenders are too delicious to withstand, but too big too eat alone and still have space for the entree. Normally, I share them with my wife, and then go for the Cajun Burger ($7.95), minus the cheese, which comes with a spicy rub and mushrooms - I always add their sweet-spicy BBQ sauce. Bourbon Street is one of the few places that actually charbroils its burgers exactly as you order, so medium is really medium (hence, I prefer medium-well, which is the normal medium). The burger comes on a soft bun and the patty is big and juicy, the rub makes it salty and spicy, while is both enhanced and perfectly balanced by the sweet and spicy BBQ sauce. The fries are not handmade, but perfectly deep fried and very tasty. Finally, it comes with a small cup of coleslaw, which is light and not too mayo-based: excellent.

VERDICT: 99/100
Bourbon Street takes pub grub to the extreme! They have hands-down the best chicken tenders in the world and one of the best burgers in the country. Shame the place is often filled with groups of very loud suits and it is filled with smoke.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Billy Goat Tavern (Chicago, IL)

O'Hare Airport, Terminal 1-Concourse C, Chicago, IL, T: 773-462-9368

Billy Goat Tavern is a Chicago legend, established in 1934, and currently counting almost 10 locations in and around the city (and one in D.C.). It is particularly known, or in American term "world famous", for its "cheeseborger". The menu list a broad variety of burgers (distinguished by number of patties; from 1 to 3) and meat sandwiches.

I went to the Billy Goat at Chicago's O'Hare airport, which (to be fair), might not provide the best food of all locations. I ordered a triple hamburger $5.49), regular fries ($1.79), and a 24oz soda ($1.99). The fries were soggy and undercooked. :-( The burger includes three thin, dry patties on a big, dry bun... that's all! There is a small condiments bar with two types of onion and two types of pickle (i.e. cut or uncut), as well as ketchup and mustard. Overall, a big dry and tasteless burger, which I didn't even finish (too boring).

VERDICT: 54/100
As said, I went to Billy Goat at the airport, which never have the best quality, but given that the food isn't too difficult to make, and was made fresh for me, I doubt it will be significantly better at any other location. Very disappointing!

Ka-We Imbiss (Berlin, Germany)

Wittenbergplatz 1, 10789 Berlin, Germany

Ka-We Imbiss is a typical German-style snackbar (Imbiss) situated at the square in front of the famous department store Kaufhaus des Westen (KaDeWe). It mainly serves sausages, either with a roll or with fries, and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). There are a couple of high tables in front of it; no indoor seating! I ordered the main dish, Currywurst mit Pommes, which cost 3.90 Euro plus 0.30 for the mayo. The sausage was knackig (crispy), but not really a Bratwurst; the sauce was good (warm, spicy, and tasty). The fries had little taste, while the mayo had no taste at all.

VERDICT: 72/100
Ka-We Imbiss is a dime a dozen in Berlin and seems to survive mainly because of its location. While there are places in Berlin where you can get worse Currywurst, there are many places where you can do better!