The Stuffed Cheeseburger at the Iron Horse in Westwood, New Jersey, and the Failbun
When made to pick the most important part of a sandwich—the bread, the main filling, or the condiments—I always go with bread. But is it the same for burgers? Surely the beef patty is the most crucial part of a good burger-eating experience. But I'd say the bun is just as important and has the ability to destroy a good patty, although a bad patty wouldn't necessarily ruin a good bun. After trying the stuffed cheeseburger from The Iron Horse in Westwood, New Jersey, last week, I'm forever scarred by the memory of a satisfying meat patty suffocated between the halves of a ill-suited bun.
...Okay, perhaps I'm being too dramatic, but let's take a look at this burger.
My brother ordered the 12-ounce Bedrock cheeseburger served on a kaiser roll. At first glance it looked fine, as long as you ignored that it was absolutely ginormous.
And then came my gourmet 4-cheeseburger that consisted of a 6-ounce patty on the same size kaiser roll as the 12-ouncer. I sensed an improper ratio of meat-to-bread in our midst.
After removing the top bun, it was obviously that the patty was too small for the bun. This may have been passable if the bun were deliciously soft with a hint of chew and a bit of crunch from being grilled, but this one was none of the above.
This was failbun—dry, cottony, about as interesting as cardboard, with no pillowy or squishy characteristics. That it was too large made the burger-eating experience even worse. About halfway through the burger I took off the top bun; about halfway through that half, I removed the bottom bun so I could eat the patty on its own. As long as I ate the meat and bun together, I couldn't fully taste of concentrate on the meat—all that went through my brain was, "Sweet jesus, this bun is bad. Let me double check if it's really that bad..[takes a bite]...yes, it is really that bad."
Although I'm not a big fan of stuffed cheeseburgers, I was satisfied with my burger stuffed with a blend of smoked Gouda, Havarti, Cheddar, and Swiss. The juicy patty had a bit of char around the outside and the cheese didn't spill out in a molten lava flow-like manner—not that that would've necessarily been bad, but I like that the cheese was just melted enough to be semi-congealed. I enjoyed the patty on its own; with the bun, I couldn't really taste it.
As that was my only visit to the Iron Horse and it was recommended to us by an AHT reader, I'd assume that the buns aren't always that bad. Maybe I got a stale one. Maybe they have other options besides kaiser rolls that won't make baby Jesus cry. I don't think they'd be famous for their burgers if they always served them on the same bun I ate. I'd go back to the Iron Horse—it's a welcoming, family restaurant—but I'd only try the burger again if I could get it with different bread.