Review Date: 10/22/15
Visit Dates: (10/21/15)
Open only for weekday breakfast and lunch, Wheelhouse is a burger option best explored if you either work or have business in Boston's Financial District. It's a small but inviting space with wood floors, aged wood on the walls, a few New England Patriots homages and some antique furnishings. You order over a counter and eat on your choice of stools facing a wall or the front window, with a narrow wood counter as your tabletop.
Several different burgers are available, most at $7.50, with sides a la carte. They also have a turkey burger, a lamb burger, a veggie burger, a pulled pork sandwich and a meatball sandwich. In the morning, it's griddled pastries, bagels and breakfast sandwiches.
I go with the Pimento (bacon, bread & butter pickles, pimento cheese spread).
Here it's as simple as it gets, with an ordinary but fresh bun. Toasted and not buttered, it has the softness of a potato roll but the flavor of what you'd see at McDonald's or a supermarket. For whatever reason, I get a diner vibe.
There are no special blends; Wheelhouse uses 90/10 chuck, cooked on a flat top with part of the session under a dome. Inexplicably, the burger is ready within minutes. It turns out to be two 2.5-ounce patties, jumbled and crusty outside, aggressively seasoned (both visible and tastable), done to the requested medium rare (all cooked, all pink) and fall-apart tender inside. Even with the stated leanness, the juice flow is so constant that I can't put this burger down on the paper plate's pool of drippings. The flavor isn't particularly beefy, but the other attributes carry it along nicely.
The pimento cheese is more of a tight spread, closer to what you see in a
Wispride crock than the foamy, lathery pimento toppings so popular
right now. As such, it's more of an accent than key player. Pickles
add more tartness than expected. Bacon is most prominent, with deep color and a strong cure flavor but no sweetness. All of it has just the right amount of crispness.
The Fries (and such)
They don't have a fryer, so they don't do fries. "Smash Fries," served three to a pack, are a mash up (no pun intended) of hashbrowns and potato pancakes, studded with herbs and enough cheese to make it interesting but not so much that it gets all melty. Interesting for sure, but I'm not sure I'd get them again.
This burger reminds me of the one at Casey's Diner in Natick, with a little extra. If you like that one, you'll like Wheelhouse too.
The speed is much appreciated. Eating out at lunchtime is a luxury, not a given, so it's nice to see they understand that small window to get there, order and eat before getting back to work or other business.
The Bottom Line
The beef is expertly handled. There's nothing cheffy or upscale about this burger but there doesn't have to be; sometimes a simple burger, executed really well in friendly surroundings, is all you need. This is it.
Yelp reviews of Wheelhouse
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