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What you need to know for 11/19/2017

BurgerFi slows down fast food

BurgerFi slows down fast food

If you wanted to remake fast food into real food, you’d end up with something like BurgerFi.
BurgerFi slows down fast food
BurgerFi offerings: Chicago-style Vienna Beef Frank, french fries and onion rings with aioli, and a chocolate shake.
Photographer: Caroline Lee

If you wanted to remake fast food into real food, you’d end up with something like BurgerFi. Their restaurants use environmentally sustainable best practices and Earth-friendly materials. Chairs are made from recycled Coke cans, tables from milk jugs.

Your burger comes in a wax paper bag, fries in paper boats. The beef is antibiotic- and hormone-free, humanely raised. BurgerFi’s burgers, dogs and fries answer to a higher calling.

No bags of frozen fries, no hockey-puck beef patties that I recall from working at a fast-food restaurant in high school. Folks want better quality food and humanely sourced ingredients. Food is prepared and cooked on premises here. It costs more and people seem willing to pay.

An appealing patio has umbrella tables. Inside, stainless steel and wood, a concrete floor and black ceiling give a modern, industrial feel. More windows than walls means fewer bulbs. There were two large TVs going and Rod Stewart was singing.

“Have you been here before?” we were asked by a staff member helpfully. You can build a burger; it’s $4.47 for a single patty and you add toppings for extra. Standards, like ketchup, are free. The BurgerFi ($5.97) comes with lettuce, tomato and BurgerFi sauce; upgrade to the Twenty-Eight ($10.57), with two 28-day dry-aged Angus ground brisket patties, Swiss and Bleu cheeses, lettuce, tomato, pickles and BurgerFi sauce.

You can build a dog, including one with “Kobe-style” beef and make it a regional style.

You can get a Boylan soda or fresh lemonade, and a Coke Freestyle machine allows you to create your own blend from different beverages in a dizzying array of combinations. BurgerFi offers wine and a variety of craft beers, including Ommegang from Cooperstown.

Several tables were free, but none wiped. BurgerFi has napkin dispensers on each table, so we took care of the crumbs and found the place for the pager. When your food is ready, someone will find you.

It didn’t take long. Eric examined the Chicago dog for authenticity. He’s a native and BurgerFi’s Vienna Beef was spot on. “I like the flat pickle slice,” he said. It’s the genuine article, with mustard, relish, diced onion, tomato, celery salt and poppy seed bun. He was satisfied. “This is delicious,” he said.

I ordered my burger with lettuce, thinking it would come on a plate. It was wrapped in large iceberg lettuce leaves and tucked into a bag. I used the plastic knife and fork anyway, which put the burger center stage. It was beefy and juicy and didn’t need ketchup. Melted sharp cheddar made a tasty crust. It was just this side of well-done, though not dry.

They didn’t ask how I wanted it and there’s a disclaimer on the menu about the risks of undercooked beef. So your burger is going to be cooked well, but they’ll do it well.

We shared the Fry and Cry ($5.47 for fries and rings) with urban-style seasoning, chopped herbs featuring rosemary and grated Parmesan cheese, generously applied and aioli on the side. The fries are russet, skin-on and browned. They didn’t need ketchup, but I added salt.

The bagel-sized onion rings are over the top. “One ring would be enough,” was Eric’s judgment. We agreed that the onion was sweet inside, with a delicious, crisp batter. I thought they were a bit oily but preferred them to the fries.

The chocolate shake was “extremely chocolatey,” according to Eric, and really thick, more dessert than beverage. At the end of the meal I could scoop it with my fork. I much preferred my strawberry lemonade ($2.97), tangy, with real lemon flavor and tiny strawberry seeds.

The tab for lunch came to $26.27. We like BurgerFi and enjoyed our Earth-friendly, humanely sourced meal; still, it’s burgers and dogs and fries.

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