Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Pastrami Burger

When I was little, on Fridays we would go to a little hut that made burgers and fries. My father would always  ALWAYS get a pastrami burger. I can remember (vaguely) the first time I ordered one on those special nights that we got to eat the Grub Box. It was so big and tasted so good. I felt like such a grown up. Years later when I started a food blog, the very one you're reading in fact, I wanted to start with a food that was near and dear to me. Give me the chance to share the passion I have for food and show what it is this whole thing is about. So I went back to those thoughts of the little boy and the big burger and this is where we begin.

The pastrami burger is an odd quirk of Utah it seems. I haven't been all over the world, but I've been all over the west, and I've never seen them anywhere but here. And if our local restaurant menus are any indication we're a little nuts for them. Seems like every local place has one. So what Chef Fatty, our Token Skinny Guy, and I decided to do was find the three best ones and rate them against each other. Now like we said everybody has one here. So we picked two local franchises and then went back to that little shack that created the template for what we think is a good one.

Hires Big H: {425 S. 700 E. Salt Lake City, UT (801) 364-4582}: 
Hires Big H on UrbanspoonWe started out heading over to Hires Big H. There's three of them across the Salt Lake valley and we went to the one out in Sugarhouse. The place was packed when we got there and it's worth it to mention that they were really great about helping us. The fact that between the three of us we split a burger and had only one drink they still helped us out when we'd forgotten to take a picture of the burger we ordered. But the man behind the counter, just let us take a picture of one of the burgers lying around. 
Pictured: Not Pastrami
So the Hires Pastrami H is their basic Big H but with Pastrami added. The Big H itself is a truly fantastic burger and totally worth tracking down. However as a pastrami burger it really leaves something itself lacking. 

Pastrami has a brininess and quite distinct flavor. Unlike bacon (which is one of the things it was created to be a substitute for) that flavor isn't assertive though. Where as bacon can basically be put on anything and you'll love it, pastrami takes some work to get it out. This burger has a Fry Sauce (another thing Utah is nuts for) on the bottom that is delicious and goes amazingly well with the fluffy bun and the high quality patty. However, that being said, it really fights with the pastrami. The sweetness and acid from the ketchup just didn't meld with it. I'm sure that major foodies and folks on the east coast would consider ketchup on pastrami as a blasphemous act and I am inclined to agree with them. 

The Hires' was pretty much the highest quality burger and bun we had, but the pastrami was basically heated and put on it. As a Burger it was fantastic, but it wasn't a good Pastrami burger. 

Crown Burger: {118 N. 300 W, Salt Lake City, Utah 84103 (801) 532-5300}
Crown Burgers on UrbanspoonCrown Burger, Astro Burger, and Apollo Burger as basically the same restaurant. They all are American/Greek fast food joints with the same menu. I go there fairly often. Their namesake burger, the Crown/Astro/Apollo, is a pastrami burger. It's fast food standard. A step above chain restaurants. Local ingredients. Worth eating. However it's nothing particularly special. They cook their pastrami in an greek flavor broth that changes the texture and gives it a mouth feel similar to corned beef. It's good but doesn't taste like pastrami. Though I do like the crispness and freshness added by the lettuce and tomato on this one. 
We asked for thirds and got fourths. But I can't really complain.
The Burger's HUGE.
Though their pastrami burger is only okay, I know that they have a truly fantastic bacon cheeseburger, and their fries are probably some of my favorite fries I've eaten. Crispy on the outside, fluffy and velvety in the middle, just about the perfect fry for my money. They also have a good frysauce. Though that is one point that is different between the three names. Astro has the best frysauce of those. 

Grub Box: {8537 W 2700 S, Magna, UT 84044 (801) 250-3800}:
 Grub Box on UrbanspoonThis. This is the burger that I wanted to write about. It's the template by which I judge a pastrami burger. But I have to say, it's a whole is greater then it's parts scenario. The bun is restaurant standard. The patty came out of a box. It's French's yellow mustard and mayo. I do have to say that the pastrami they choose is pretty good quality. They cook a basic cheeseburger with mustard and mayo, some lettuce, and stack it with flat top cooked pastrami. Everything about this sandwich is there for one purpose. To make that pastrami the star. Even the lower quality of the patty and bun makes you put your focus on that wonderful taste of the pastrami. 

The unassuming face of perfection

Grub Box itself is a hole in the wall burger shack. They're shakes are pretty good but nothing special. Their fries are kind of terrible if I'm honest. I really love their chicken sandwich, and they have a solidly good BLT. But if you're making the trip out to Main Street Magna, then you want to do it for the pastrami burger. Hell, if you've never had one then this is the one to try. It's my mental template. And it's just a fantastic burger. 

See you in the chow line, 
-The Fat Kid

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