By John Carruthers and Ken Haynes
We set out with a sacred duty – to find the best Kinda Fancy Chain Burger (and fries) in our great city.
Here are the only rules:
- We order a place’s signature (or standard, if that’s the only option) cheeseburger and fries.
- We eat whatever else we want because Freedom.
So who is the Burger Champion? We lean on another Celebrity Chef(TM!) to redeem the ruinous insult of a burger that Good Stuff served us last time around. Is Marcus Samuelsson up to the task, or do we need to quit burgers forever? Let’s find out.
Level 6: Marc Burger
111. N. State, 7th Floor (it’s in the Macy’s food court)
Motto: Hot damn, this thing is long and terrible. And it’s in Flash, so I can’t even copy/paste it. Let’s have a look.
The big difference is the way we source and look at ingredients … [It goes on like this for some time] … I grew up in Sweden eating burgers as a treat … [even more text] … Our weekly specials help to celebrate the diversity that makes this country unique …
Okay, I quit – you win this game of Unreadable Marketing Copy Chicken, Samuelsson.
Locations: 2 (Ours and one in Costa Mesa, California – just barely qualifying it for this list)
Beer?: Nah, man. But there’s a semi-obscure pedway-adjacent sports bar in the basement if you really want.
So back to that motto, we want to point out that bit attributed to Marcus Samuelsson says “I create a burger with the same passion I apply to food and fine dining.” So he’ll make you a burger, and sell you a burger, but he doesn’t think a burger is food. This is maybe the most European chef thing we have ever read.
This is not related to the actual burger, and won’t factor into the score, but look at this website and it’s Flash animation loading screen. Didn’t know you could still build things on Geocities.
Oh hey, the standard toppings include an egg and bacon! We’d take a picture and share it with our social networks, but Instagram won’t be invented for another two years. Womp womp.
This is actually a fairly decent burger, especially given that we’ve recently eaten and reviewed a hockey puck cooked by the fourth place finisher on Top Chef. The meat has some decent char (and actually cooked to the medium level they claim on the menu!), the bun is maybe the best we’ve had on this burger journey, and the seasoning level is legit perfect.
Not everything is perfect. First off the “head” bun is adorned with two gigantic slices of beefsteak tomato. Are they both for me? Does anyone eat both of these? Can I use one to level this cafeteria table? The whisper-thin bacon is cooked in that half-assed hotel-and-convention-center manner. The egg is, and John argues this across the board for all burgers, stupid and unnecessary. But the main problem is there’s just too much of everything. It would be damn near perfection at two-thirds the size. But it gets messy, you’ll occasionally wander from a boring beef-only bite to tapping the Strategic Steak Sauce Reserve.
These were also darn tasty. But they make their own ketchup, and that’s never the value add a chef/restaurateur thinks it is. They also offer their own version of secret sauce that was some sort of honey chili mustard that didn’t really pair well with anything. It’s like the whole theme of this place is “Two Steps Forward, One and a Half Steps Back.” They don’t go full MC Skat Kat, but this place has the potential and seeming talent to be so much better. Unlike certain other chef-driven burger places we’ve been to. Let’s call it Good S. Eatery. Wait, that’s too obvious. Let’s call it G. Stuff.
(AW HELL YES ITS A BONUS ROUND PEOPLE) The … Slaw
The void was calling to us after the slaw.
We did not ask for slaw, yet it was thrust upon us like a little mayonnaise baby in a basket. And let us tell you, this slaw is the worst damn thing since that time you ate a live gecko with a piece of tinfoil stuck to it. Imagine, if you will, julienned vegetables packed in mud and thrown into the garbage at Disney World. It’s fished out by a grumpy Orlando-area custodian who is damn well going to win that rec league softball trophy this season so he can shove it right in his dad’s face, given a quick dunk in the gator pond, and served in a tiny plastic ramekin. The earth weeps at the madness of her children.
We did not finish our portions of slaw.
Score: NEGATIVE SIX THOUSAND/Hopes and Dreams
What’s worse to you – potentially charming mediocrity or a ghost of excellence dragged back into the eternal shadows by several decisions you can pinpoint as exactly wrong? If the latter doesn’t bug you too much, you’ll have a decent time with your Marc Burger. Meanwhile we’ll be dreaming of what could have been, like a couple of husky Miss Haveshams.
So the Swedish delegate to the Macy’s Culinary Council did a pretty good job compared to last week’s fedora of a burger joint. Even though he doesn’t think burgers are food. Still, Epic Burger’s the best thing we’ve eaten by quite a ways.
This is where we’d normally crack wise about something or other, but we fell into a Wikipedia wormhole about Samuelsson and holy crap has that guy led an interesting life. Seriously. Which, now that we think of it, makes us think we should have asked our frowny line cook his life story.
Want to see the rest of our burger adventures? INSERT COIN