San Francisco: Great Beer and Bad Burgers at Rogue Ales Public House

AHT: San Francisco

Burger reviews in the Bay area.

[Photographs: Wes Rowe]

Rogue Ales Public House

673 Union St., San Francisco CA 94133 (map); 415-362-7880;
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Don't believe the hype on the menu; these burgers are flavorless and disappointing
Want Fries with That? Comes with the burger and though they aren't great, they're better than the burger
Price: The Cheeseburger, $13.50; w/bacon, +$1.45
Notes: Open Mon. to Thurs., Sun., 12 p.m. - 12 a.m.; Fri. to Sat., 12 p.m. - 2 a.m.

As of late I've been familiarizing myself with North Beach and Chinatown, one of the most densely populated areas in San Francisco, and where food choices are very hit or miss. Recently I had a big miss at Rouge Ales Public House.

The menu list both burgers and American Kobe Beef burgers. The Kobe cheeseburger ($13.50) advertised as 1/2-pound will run you about $4.50 more than the regular, and it's laughably billed on the menu as "the world's greatest burger." The patty is made with Snake River Farms' hormone-free American Wagyu beef and served on an onion bun with wasabi mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and onion. The burgers come pre-pattied and frozen.

How someone could take such great meat and make it taste so bad, I can't understand. The patty was as bland and flavorless as they come, with no trace of salt. The texture of the meat was horrible, too—dense, dry, and tacky, it stuck to my teeth when I chewed.

Another huge disappointment was the almost transparently thin slice of cheddar on top of the burger, which was masked by the beef's dull flavor and the wasabi mayonnaise that lacked even a hint of wasabi. The toasted bun tasted old and crumbly. At least the red onions on the burger were crisp and tasted fresh, unlike the mealy tomato and limp lettuce.

The burger comes with an order of "Idaho fries" that tasted just like generic frozen fries. They were salted and cooked until crisp, but I found myself adding tons of ketchup to fill the flavor void the burger left me with.

This place has so much potential: tons of space, back patio, prime location, and great beer. If they could clean up their act in the kitchen and at least put out a good burger they would have a great neighborhood hangout spot. Until then, do yourself a favor and either go in for only a beer, or walk the 0.8 miles to In-N-Out and get a burger worth chewing.

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