Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Square Burger

Franklin Square Park
200 N 6th St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

A burger shack in a local park. Not exactly original, but still a welcome addition to (almost) any park in the city. With the Starr pedigree behind it, the buzz surrounding it, and the proximity to my work (very close), I was pleased to go eat lunch in the park and give it a go. Disclaimer, I did not go for the much hyped Butterscotch Krimpet shake, as I am not a huge fan of sweets, nor of overly sweet dairy-based drinks in the middle of the day. Anyway, as it was extraordinarily nice this week, to Franklin Square I went.

When I approached the line, which was not too bad considering the weather, I was squinting to see the menu. Not too long, or fancy, which was promising. It took a bit longer than expected to get to the front, but it gave me time to hash out my choice. I was a bit taken aback when I saw that a classic cheeseburger was $4.75, but it IS a Steven Starr burger shack, so I guess I was feigning shock for the most part.

When I got to the front, the order taker was running around like crazy. I skipped fries because I had a previous arrangement to split an order, and I need to watch my intake so that I don't die as quickly during the Broad Street Run this year. I really pushed the envelope when I ordered a classic cheese burger with everything on it, plus hot peppers. I heard her explicitly tell the grill guy my correct order, and he confirmed with, "plain burger no hot peppers." Wrong. My heart sunk. She corrected him, and he confirmed my actual order. Could they possibly get this right?

Grill man in question below.

I then proceeded to dream of pickles and hot peppers, onions and a potato roll on a griddle-crispy, salty meat patty, while the smell of the flat top wafted in the air around the park as I waited. And waited. Until about fifteen minutes after ordering, when one of my dining partners' names was called. While we hovered around the pickup side like vultures biding our time until that lost adventurer takes their last sip of water, a lady that ordered AFTER us went up to the window screaming at the staff that her friends had all received their food before her, and were waiting to eat. The poor woman working inside casually informed her that her friends had ordered items that take less time to prepare thus the extra wait. Personally, I would have: #1 eaten with the crazy screamer, and #2 realized that maybe a salad doesn't take as long as a burger to prepare. When the counter person informed her that my party was STILL ahead of her, I am pretty sure I saw smoke coming out of her ears. Seriously people, that is no way to spend your lunch break.

Finally, after drinking half of my over-priced, unsweetened iced tea [see aforementioned medium distance run looming in the future like the dark towers of Mordor (I can't believe I knew how to spell Mordor, nerd)] my order arrived. When the person to the left of me, who ordered a plain cheeseburger with just ketchup started pulling hot peppers off of his sandwich, I knew I was doomed. On a side note, after all of the craziness that had already ensued, I neglected to correct the man when I saw him slide an order of fries into what I knew was my brown bag.

Upon first glance, the burger looked . . . small. The fries looked tasty, but so do Ore Ida's when I am starving, and these had just about as much flavor. It was like eating old fries that had been in some even older oil. Not too hot. I opened my burger, which was slightly larger than a silver dollar, and discovered that there indeed were no pickles, nor were there any hot peppers. Also the burger itself was even smaller than the tiny potato roll it was served on. I added a couple of packets of relish, instead of risking being assaulted up in line, and slowly ate my food. I did, however, find one thing that was absolutely fantastic. The weather. My god, I forgot how much I enjoy the city when spring rolls (mmmmm, spring rolls) around and the people come out of the woodwork (even when it's just to yell at underpaid employees in a burger shack).

I really have to say that I was highly disappointed. It really doesn't take much to make an old school flat-top burger delicious, but whatever was on that thing left a truly terrible taste in my mouth for hours afterward. If I were playing a mini golf match at Franklin Square some time in the future, I would make the loser eat a Square Burger.


Ana said...

Seeing as I'm neither located in Philly nor am I a consumer of burgers, was your feigned shock at $4.75 a burger because that is cheap or expensive?

Philly Phoodie said...

It is expensive for a burger of this caliber. I will gladly pay more for something that deserves it, and frequently do, but as far as a cheap, old school diner style burger, $4.75 is steep. Especially with nothing more than some chopped onions, yellow mustard and ketchup on it, and they didn't even remember the pickles. Or the hot peppers.

Anonymous said...

While we're talking burger price, do you think PYT's $8 burger w. similar accoutrements is worth the price? Granted it has bacon on it... I used to work right by SquareBurger. I think the wait alone isn't worth the hype. Except for the milkshake, which I recommend regardless of how long it'll take, you can grab a solid burger elsewhere.

Philly Phoodie said...

@Nolovemoresincere, I think my favorites are still Royal, Village Whiskey, and 500. I have never been too impressed with PYT, but I am going to give them another try soon. I will be sure to let you know. I have a couple of places coming up you will be interested in!