I have mentioned previously that, under normal conditions, I would do some due diligence and try to find out which restaurants I should visit prior to the trip. However, for this trip to San Francisco, such due diligence wasn’t really done; instead, I relied quite a bit on suggestions – with the usual suspects being other food bloggers who have been in that area. However, a very dear friend whom had recently been there also provided a suggestion outside of the main areas of San Francisco. Since I heed my friend suggestions, I saw no reason why I shouldn’t give it a try. And what place it was? Well, a burger shop which name is quite straightforward about what food they sell: Hamburgers! (<– Yes, that’s the name of the restaurant!)
One thing you will notice right away: Hamburgers is located in Sausalito, north of San Francisco if you take the Golden Gate Bridge. However, since neither Sherman (who tagged along on this one) and I rented a car, the options were either take a cab, public transit or, what we ended up doing, take the ferry. However, unlike, say, the Seabus in Vancouver, where, even in weekends, there is one every 15 or 30 minutes (depending on the time of the day), the ferry from the Ferry Building to Sausalito was once every hour (transit time of ~25 minutes, though longer distance) so that meant we only had that much time. Since we had breakfast earlier in Taylor Street Coffee Shop, it was a matter of making sure of taking the appropriate ferry at the appropriate time. Yes, at times, we spend a bit lot of time juggling things around to make the most out of it! Of course, there is that one question: What would some food bloggers in a foreign city do? How about visiting its local farmer’s market? Well, for that, you will have to wait for Sunday, hehehe…
Anyway, arriving to Sausalito was quite… Interesting. To paraphrase Sherman, if it wasn’t for fog and low clouds, you could partially confuse this place with a Caribbean town. Yup, quaint in its own ways! However, we weren’t necessarily there for sightseeing (which we sort of ended up doing while waiting for the next ferry to go back to San Francisco) but rather for one thing: burgers!
By the time we arrived, we ended up being order #3 and #4 so to provide a better idea of what they can crank out, we returned after our meals and see their cooking action… As in this!
Notice something quite particular about that grill? Specifically, how does the cook flip the burger on the far side (the one closer to me? Well, it just happens that grill is a rotary one. Think of it as a grill version of a Lazy Susan! So, it keeps spining and spinning and spinning. Come to think about it, it can serve for a secondary purpose: consistency! How so? If the recipe calls for flipping after two revolutions before flipping the burger then they know they just have to wait for it to “come back” and go from there!
And talking about patty, one thing we noticed right away: Did you think these were frozen patties? Nope, we saw some meatballs in the back counter which we saw were shaped before they were placed on the grilled. Short of grinding the meat to order, I think this is the best a restaurant can do! So, let’s go to the goods:
WTF?! That’s not a burger?! Yup, indeed that’s not a burger. And, yes, we indeed ordered one; however, since we were going to split a burger, we thought about ordering something else. Between BBQ chicken, hot dog, turkey burger or burrito, we thought a steak sandwich would be a “better” option. Alas, that wasn’t necessarily the case. The sirloin was quite thin; however, it was overcooked by a revolution. Had they left it a bit more on the rare side it would have been better. The way it ended up being cooked… No: it felt chewy. Furthermore, it lacked something (seasoning?) which we thought was disappointing (Actually, we did see some seasoning being sprinkled; however, when it was cooked already). In the end… No.
Yeah, THIS is their burger, specifically, their cheese burger. By textbook definition this is a perfect example of a good burger: bread, whole lettuce leaves, sliced tomato and onion for veggies. For dressing, they added catsup, mustard and relish. And all of that in a bun with sesame seeds. Does that look good?
One another detail that very few places do? Medium rare. Despite it wasn’t necessarily juicy to the point of messy, it still had some juices. It felt crumbly but didn’t break down when you bite into it. However, past that, the rest of the burger… Well, it could have been better. Specifically, we thought that the bun was the epic fail that dragged the whole burger down. It felt too thick, which resulted in it dampening the flavour of the meat. As a result what I ended up doing is removing the top bun and eat it as an open face sandwich. Yes, it was strange… One detail that can go either way was the (Monterrey Jack) cheese: It didn’t really melt so it kept a bit of that unmelted cheese taste. So, depending on how you like it, it might be a pro or a con.
Just for kicks, we also ordered some fries. OK, one small detail I must mention. You didn’t really have to look closely to find out that a lot of components used are from Sysco. And while I am no fan on most of their drop-to-the-fryer-and-serve food, for ingredients, it is still a workable solution. For example, their catsup was vinegar-y rather than sweet so that worked for me. As for their fries… Well, I think the visuals are enough…
Overall, from the patty only perspective, Hamburgers actually delivered what they promised: a good burger patty made of simple ingredients. In other words, simplicity at its best. Alas, my perspective of a hamburger has changed and, rather than the patty only (which, again, I thought was good), it is the whole package that failed a little bit. And, as such, there is room for improvement which can somewhat easily be address. Still, in the end, I believe it is a good option.