Philadelphia: A Behemoth of Beef at Butcher & Singer

AHT: Philadelphia

Burger reviews in the Philadelphia area.

20110210-137247-butcher-burger.jpg

[Photographs: Nicholas Chen]

Butcher & Singer

1500 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102 (map); 215-732-4444, butcherandsinger.com
Cooking Method: Broiled
Short Order: A massive 10-ounce sirloin burger that will leave you in a coma
Want Fries with That? Well they're already on the plate...
Price: Butcher Burger (w/fries), $9.95

Founded by Stephen Starr—the very same owner of Buddakan, Morimoto, and Barclay Prime—Butcher and Singer is a steakhouse that, according to their own description, pays "An homage to old Hollywood... reminiscent of a bygone era when women donned full red lips, men wore a suit and tie and post-Prohibition liquor flowed freely." While I'm not entirely convinced that I enjoyed that sort of vibe or "felt like a celebrity," there is a certain air of decadence, of glamor, of pretentiousness associated with the dining room there.

Despite the fact that they're surely more well known for their steaks and chops (they are a steakhouse after all), that doesn't mean they slouch on the remainder of their menu. The Butcher Burger is a testament to that statement. Executive Chef Anthony Goodwin really knows how to handle his meat.

20110210-137247-butcher-burger-open.jpg

The Butcher Burger weighs in at 10-ounces, formed from dry-aged beef which gets plopped right in the middle of what is effectively an oversized dinner roll. Combined with a healthy helping of melted English cheddar, fried onions, and a house-blend of Russian dressing, it's a construction that certainly looks and sounds intimidating. There's no way around it, this burger is a behemoth of decadence.

20110210-137247-butcher-burger-insides.jpg

After being warned that their medium rare bordered on rare, I was happily greeted with the cross-section of fluorescent pink as seen above. The patty itself is a miracle of engineering. The exterior is marred with fantastic charring from grilling, yet the center remains inexplicably juicy and untainted by high-heat. Wonderfully pungent with the fumes of beef, and overflowing with extra juices, the patty is well constructed and well thought out to say the least.

The cheese is hardly ignorable, as the choice of English cheddar lends itself to being both a textural and flavor complement. The sharp taste provides for a nice contrast to the minimalist seasoning on the burger, while the smoothness adds a rich creaminess to the equation. With soft fried onions added into the matrix of cheddar, you end up with an element of sweetness in every bite as well.

The one downfall of the Butcher burger, if it can really be considered one, comes with the bun. It's not that the bun, a brioche sourced from Parc, is awful in any sense, it's just that it doesn't do its job properly. Given the heft of the patty, and the liquid content held by both the meat and the onions, it attempts miserably to sop up the overflow of juices, and ultimately fails. This is both a plus and a minus. It leaves you with a messy sandwich, but that last bite is pure bliss—a soaked bun holding onto an overwhelming amount of beef and cheese.

20110210-137247-butcher-and-singer-fries.jpg

While the burger is undoubtedly fantastic, the fries are somewhat boring. There's nothing innately bad about them. They're skin-on, thinly cut, French fries that are certainly passable. The seasoning is appropriate, and they complement the burger as they should, but there's nothing that leaves a lasting impression that would make you crave their fries.

20110210-137247-butcher-and-singer-cheesecake.jpg

I realize this site isn't called "A Cheesecake Today," but as an aside, there is probably no better way to finish a meal than with a slice of cheesecake, and Butcher & Singer serves up one of the best I've ever had (right up there with Eileen's or Junior's). Rich, creamy, and served with a delightfully light dollop of crème fraiche, if you go to get the burger, make sure you also get a slice of cheesecake. You might think you're too full from 10-ounces of dry-aged beef, but I promise you'll regret it if you don't.

20110210-137247-butcher-and-singer-door.jpg

How do I feel about Butcher & Singer? Out-of-place would be appropriate. The haughty ambiance and décor is just a bit too much if your goal is a simple burger, but for one this good it's worth the trip.