A few weeks after his last post about Meridian, Brad is back with another Berkeley burger review. Today he tries a contender for the Best Burger in the Bay Area at 900 Grayson.

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[Photographs: Brad Japhe]

900 Grayson

900 Grayson Street, Berkeley CA 94710 (map); 510-704-9900; 900grayson.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Their bacon cheeseburger topped with crispy fried onions and housemade barbecue sauce packs a smoky punch. Cooked rare, the burger may be too juicy for the bun.
Want Fries with That? The burger comes with deliciously crispy herb-coated shoe strings.
Prices: Grayson Burger with fries, $12

The quest to find the Bay Area's Best Burger is no simple task. There are nine counties and hundreds of restaurants in this part of California, each offering its own take on the most classic of American fare. I'll travel as far away as Sacramento—some 75 miles to the northeast en route to Tahoe—just to taste a noteworthy burger, as long as it's ski season. So imagine my surprise when I heard just this week about a possible "Best Burger" served a few blocks from where I've worked for years: 900 Grayson in West Berkeley.

The Grayson Burger is of the bacon and cheese variety: Nueske's Double Smoked Bacon and N.Y. white Cheddar melted atop roughly five ounces of grilled Creekstone Natural Beef, to be exact. Crispy fried onions and housemade barbecue sauce smother the patty, which comes on a lightly toasted and buttered brioche. These toppings combined with the smoked bacon to give the burger a unique tanginess. I immediately noticed a robust and smokey punch. It merited a pause of culinary satisfaction—okay, not that long of a pause. No burger is good cold.

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Ordered medium, the cross section revealed the meat to be rather rare, but thanks to the quality of beef this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm just glad I didn't order it medium rare; otherwise it would've been served with a heartbeat. The grilled crust of the burger worked well, adding an exterior crunch while sealing the delectable juices inside. Subsequent bites revealed the character of the patty: the chuck was ground slightly finer that what I expect from a traditional hamburger. This gave way to more of a mushy bite rather than a coarse one.

The salty and sweet fried onions brought extra crunchiness and flavor to every bite. The bacon was also awesome—initially crunchy yet enduringly chewy. Unfortunately, I felt that the flavor of the meat was drowned out by the barbecue sauce's smokiness and tang. I wish the high quality beef was given a greater opportunity to shine. The cheese was also lost in the mix, nearly an afterthought beyond each bite. The herbed and salted shoestring fries, although fairly standard, were superbly crisped and salted.

900 Grayson is open during the day for breakfast and lunch only. Their bacon cheeseburger served with high quality ingredients and french fries is more than reasonable for $12. If you enjoy (or can tolerate) a little barbecue flavor with your hamburger, the Grayson Burger will be—or already is—near the top of your list. As I only live down the street from this burger, I'll definitely be back.

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