Bobby's Burger Palace is the hamburger empire of celebrity chef and Food Network star Bobby Flay. It's a toppings driven burger concept set mostly in suburban locations. The service is first over the counter, where you pay in advance and receive a numbered sign to identify your order as it's brought to your self selected table. If Johnny Rockets is a burger themed time travel to the 1940s, then Bobby's Burger Palace is surely the early 1970s, with orange and avocado colors everywhere. Mostly-communal dining is at tables and swiveling high top counter seats.
Many of the burgers are stereotypical sets of toppings reflecting various regions of the USA in the ingredients: peppers for Santa Fe, mozzarella and hot peppers for Philadelphia, avocados for California. You get the idea. Bobby's signature option is "crunchifying" the burger with the addition of potato chips. They also do griddled cheese sandwiches.
If you guessed (feared?) that there'd be assorted Flay "merch" available, you'd be right, but the display case near the ordering counter is tastefully understated.
A simple and unassuming sesame seed bun is big on seed density and bigger on freshness. A microcosm of the place itself, this bun is hardly innovative but nonetheless solid.
Flay could have gone overboard chef diva and gone with a rockstar meat supplier or exotic house-made blend, but given the suburban location (and of its sister restaurants nationwide), a simple Angus provides a better fit. The 80/20 meat-to-fat ratio leans slightly toward the fattier end of the spectrum but for free running juices outflows sexier blends with even higher fat content. Credit that to the cooking, which nailed the requested medium on one visit and medium rare on the other, and the seasoning that was quite liberal without overdoing it. Crusting was also solid.
The beef patties are griddled on a flat top. I asked if I could get a photo of the kitchen action but was snubbed by the management type who stood at the pass to inspect each order as it came out. That's a tradeoff I can live with, because I appreciate management actually managing instead of merely acting managerial. When that happens, quality ensues.
The selections aren't as numerous as you'd expect (about ten predefined combinations, all slightly under $8 a la carte), aren't as flexible as you'd expect (no "build your own" option, at least as posted) and there's more overlap than you'd expect (watercress on three different burgers?), but the ingredient quality and kitchen execution have been excellent.
The Bobby Blue: If you think the Bobby Blue blew, think again. Bacon on the Bobby Blue burger was dually crispy and chewy, coming in as a darkened mahogany criss cross whose only blemish was a glob of fat on one end that looked like a wart. Easily removed, so no problem. The namesake blue cheese on the Bobby Blue burger impressed with a mini mountain of extra sharp crumbles that straddled the line between solid and liquid; actually, there was both. Flavor delivered a knockout punch without knocking the beef out of the equation.
The Philadelphia: This burger's provolone, griddled onions and hot peppers all hit the spot flavorwise, though this time they—well, mostly the hot peppers—dominated the beef. The cheese melted perfectly into a thick blanket for the burger that stretched like pizza cheese after cutting. Not just the beef but even the toppings got some heavy hits of seasoning. Overall, this combination was less effective but still very enjoyable.
The Fries (and Such)
Fries: Dark, long, extra crispy and lightly salted, these were fairly
ho-hum on my first visit. The accompanying fry sauce sounds
predictable—red peppery aioli—but was actually very compelling with
hidden complex flavors underneath. This addictive dip kept me reaching for the
fries much longer than I should have and would actually work even
better as a burger topping.
Sweet potato fries: Just as dark and crisp as the regular fries, these proved better thanks to consistently long strips (the regular had many broken pieces) and deeper flavor. These also had an accompanying sauce, this time the predictable honey mustard but with a less predictable addition of horseradish. This sauce had nice flavor but was a little too thin to stick.
Every server I've met has been friendly, knowledgable, efficient and full of enthusiasm and initiative. Regardless of your opinion on the burgers (or on Bobby Flay himself, for that matter), the amount of training, teamwork and professionalism is virtually irrefutable.
I'm struggling to think of a better Boston burger that comes with free parking. Maybe Grumpy White's in Quincy and very soon Shake Shack in Chestnut Hill, but that's about it.
The Bottom Line
Bobby's Burger Palace is less of a go-to burger joint and more of a quick and affordable bite between errands, but it's also more than solid. Sure, it's a chain, and there's more focus on the toppings than on the beef, but Bobby's impresses with fresh ingredients, good balance, accurate doneness, plenty of juice and high seasoning levels. I'm a fan of well run restaurants and this is certainly one of them.
Other Opinion/ Info
Yelp reviews of Bobby's Burger Palace
Urbanspoon reviews of Bobby's Burger Palace
||'Like' PigTrip BBQ Reviews on Facebook to keep up with all of the reviews and much more content not available on the site.