Grilled: Scott R. Kline of Hoosier Burger Boy


Burger-centric interviews with chefs, writers, and other food lovers.

Note: Today we're interviewing Scott R. Kline of San Francisco Bay Area-based burger blog Hoosier Burger Boy (he grew up in Indiana). His reviews go beyond the Golden State; it seems like he makes a point to eat a burger no matter where he goes, from Hawaii to Tennessee. As the way it should be.

20090925-grilled-scott.jpgName: Scott R. Kline, aka Hoosier Burger Boy
Location: Menlo Park, CA
Occupation: Office Furniture Sales, Photography Student

How often do you eat burgers? 2 or 3 times per week.

Where did you eat your most recent one? Hegen Burger, Oakland CA.

Cheese: American, cheddar, other? American or Gruyere.

Ketchup or mustard? Specialty sauce of the house; if none, than mustard and mayo.

Sesame-seed or plain? No preference as long as it is fresh and does not fall apart,

Grilled, griddled, or broiled? Griddled.

And how would you like that done? Medium.

Would you do us the favor of describing your perfect burger? 1/2 pound, fresh ground chuck, griddled to medium, Gruyere cheese, thick, crisp bacon, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato. Sauce of mayo, Dijon mustard, horseradish (a pinch) and Tabasco (a couple drops). Firm soft white bun baked that morning at the Peninsula Creamery and toasted on the inside.

The hamburger is a food item with which most Americans have strong childhood associations. Do you remember your earliest encounter with this delicious dish? I was raised on a beef farm. My Dad used to grill them well done. We had them on a bun with just ketchup. Because the patties were very thick, they were still quite juicy.

What's your favorite fast-food burger? In-N-Out.

What topping or condiment, in your opinion, should never grace a burger? Jalapeño overpowers everything else. When I am in Cuidad Juarez Mexico, I can only find burgers that are good at Wendy's. They put out sliced Jalapeño with the ketchup bar. The kids I work with down there pile them on.

What's the most unusual burger you've ever eaten? I went back to Indiana to the Streamliner in Rochester, my home town. They have a deep fried cheeseburger. The patty is breaded, deep fried and then the cheese goes on top. They do a much better job on the tenderloin sandwich, which has a pounded pork tenderloin, wafer thin, breaded and deep fried. It is about twice the diameter of the bun.

What's the most overrated burger you've tried? Most underrated? The Counter can mess up occasionally—they have lost some quality control as they have grown. At their prices the burger should always be spot on. Plus, they can be very slow. One time my wife and I waited 45 minutes and left because we never got our burger. Also, White Castle shouldn't even be called a burger.

Wendy's is the only National chain that I actually like the burger. I have not tried 5 Guys yet, since they are not near me in Cali yet.

What are your top five burgers in the Bay Area?
Peninsula Creamery, Palo Alto
Val's, Hayward
Joe's Cable Car, SF
Barney's, Oakland
The Counter, Palo Alto (when they are on their game!)

Imagine that for some crazy reason, you're going vegetarian. Where do you go for your final burger? I actually did that for 18 months back in the early '90s. I fell off the wagon because I missed burgers so much I would make my own as described above in my favorite. I griddle it in an iron skillet on my grill and I cook it in the grease that I fry the bacon in. How non-vegetarian is that?