Review Date: 11/01/15
Visit Dates: (10/17/15) (10/29/15)
At the end of a small strip mall on Route 38 is WuBurger, a new entrant into the fast casual burger arena. That's a pretty crowded field at the moment, but Woburn (the "Wu") is a location that could use one. You place your burger order at the ice cream counter, pick it up at the grill window across the way, then eat at a comfy table. The look is retro, featuring bright red and white diner booths, cheerful colors on all the walls and signage that highlights the sourcing.
The menu is compact but versatile, offering the preconfigured Wu Burger as well as a build-your-own option with different cheeses and toppings. A hot dog, a veggie burger and sandwiches with fried chicken, roast beef, roast turkey and eggplant present some diversity.
The sign says "featuring Mr. Charlie's ice cream," but Mr. Charlie always had Richardson's ice cream. That's still the case here, and it's not a bad choice.
The buns are by Martin's, just like at Shake Shack. But here you get a
choice of their potato roll (popularized at Shake Shack) or their less
ubiquitous sesame seed roll. Both are pillowy soft, pliable, absorbent
and just the right volume and density for the double patty option (a
single patty doesn't get lost, but isn't quite the same match for the
bun). The potato bun has light sweetness. The sesame counterpart has the
seeds so densely packed that their contribution goes beyond decorative
to include flavor and texture as well. They're toasted or grilled
The 3.3-ounce patties prepared from fresh beef are cooked on a flat top to the point where they're browned outside and still slightly pink inside. A tradeoff sacrifices some outer crust to achieve a fully juicy interior on both tries. The meat is beefy, but nothing exotic or notable. Seasoning is minimal. The feel is pleasant, with the irregularly shaped, loosely packed patties having the right amount of give.
The namesake Wu Burger's signature "Wu sauce" is an oniony mayo that adds some richness with a little extra flavor along for the ride. The Wu Burger's competent melt on the American cheese and insertion of leafy lettuce and plum tomato further liken it to Shake Shack's Shack Burger. High quality bacon on the custom burger is thin, crisp and stronger in the cure department than most. Grilled onion slivers get cooked enough that they not only wilt but become crispy too.
The Fries (and such)
Fries: These are a frozen product, light on both color and flavor. Texture was
limp one time, crisp another. Seasoning was aggressive one time, overly
Waffle Fries: Another frozen product but an improvement over the regular fries, these are preseasoned and dually textured, with a pronounced outer crispness and inner fluffiness.
Onion Rings: This mainstay of the early menu didn't stay around for long. According to the owners, they're on temporary hiatus until they "can perfect them." According to a friend's photo, they looked pretty good already, so I'm looking forward to their return.
Fried Chicken Sandwich: This was the most wow-worthy item I had here, and by that I mean no disrespect to the burger. It's just that they took a ho-hum item and really hit it out of the ballpark with a thick portion, an extremely crunchy coating and plenty of seasoning outside, briny flavor and freely running juices inside, well chosen toppings (Swiss, mayo, mustard, pickles) and a real feel for balance.
Hot Dog: This was more ho-hum, though still solid. A split dog on a soft bun, dressed to specification.
A few recent reviews of WuBurger floating out there were based on a media event with free samples. That's not the case here. As always, I pay my own way and receive the luck of the draw.
The Bottom Line
Think of WuBurger as a quieter, more homespun and more personal version of Shake Shack. The beef might not be as sophisticated, but the execution—especially the toppings—shows more tender loving care.
Yelp reviews of WuBurger
Zomato reviews of WuBurger
Tabelog reviews of WuBurger
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