My husband went to Costco the other day and I asked him to get me a BBQ brisket sandwich for lunch. Unfortunately, our local Costco in San Leandro (at least) no longer carries them. Instead, they have added a burger to their menu and my husband figured he’d get me that instead. Bad, bad move.
He said he had an inkling that the burger wouldn’t be good when he saw the patties coming out of the steamer. And he was right. This has to be the worst burger I have ever eaten, bar none. And I’ve eaten many bad burgers in my time.
The meat (and I’m assuming it’s meat) was so incredibly dry, that I have to believe it’s mostly filling. It also tasted just like the burgers they used to serve in middle school when I was a kid – not a good memory. Except these were drier.
The patties are enormous, which in this case it’s just not a good thing. It only means you have more unappetizing food to get through.
I didn’t want to waste food, so I ate through almost half of it until I decided that I just couldn’t do this to myself. The dog ate the rest. She, at least, did not complain.
But you are warned: stay away from these burgers.
Some time ago, I got a great burger in a HelloFresh kit so I’ve been more prone to order burger kits than I might otherwise had. Or I was, until I discovered that what makes a burger great is really the percentage of fat in the meat. Trying to be healthy, I had in the past used low-fat ground beef to make burgers. After the HelloFresh experience, I got some 27% fat ground beef from Harris Ranch, and the difference is amazing. So if I want to make a great burger now, I can just buy the beef rather than rely on a meal kit.
This week, just like last, I actually used the ground beef that came in this kit to make conventional burgers early in the week, when I didn’t feel like making the sweet potatoes. Then, on Sunday, I prepared this kit for lunch, using my own beef, and grilling the burgers outside. All in all, I couldn’t distinguish between the flavor/juiciness of the two different ground beefs, though grilling the burgers did give them an additional “grilled” flavor (probably due to my not cleaning the grill as well as I should have).
I was pleasantly surprised at how good these burgers were. The “dijonaise” which is just a mixture of mayo, Dijon mustard, chopped garlic and chopped cornichon pickles, was very tasty. I didn’t even miss the cheese. That said, 4 oz of ground beef for a burger is not very much – most meal kits give you 5 oz of meat per person, even when you add half a sweet potato.
Even though I enjoyed this kit, I don’t see much point in getting it versus buying the ingredients myself. Still, as I paid only $6.30 for the kit, with a welcome promo, I’m not really complaining.
I decided to get this kit after really enjoying the last Hello Fresh burgers I got. They were definitely better than the ones I made myself. It occurred to me after I order this kit, however, that my burgers may not be as good because I usually use low fat ground beef. I tried making them with 27% fat ground beef and it was a completely different story – they were delicious!
And this is a good thing because I ended up using my own ground beef to make this recipe – I had used the one from the kit earlier in the week to make plain burgers, and yes, the meat was great. Really, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two.
These burgers were also very tasty – though the tex-mex spice sort of overwhelmed the meat. I particularly liked the tomato-cilantro salsa. It gave the right counter of freshness to the spiciness of the “crema,” but it was hard to keep on the burger, it just kept sliding off!
I also ended up using my potatoes – having made the ones from the kit previously – and the addition of the tex-mex spice worked very well on these.
All in all, it was a very satisfying lunch, but really, one you don’t need a kit to make it. Still, I paid a tad over $11 for this kit with a “welcome back promo”, so I’m not complaining. I would if I’d paid the $20 standard price.
Review: Hello Fresh’ Melty Monterey Jack Burgers with Red Onion Jam, Garlic Mayo, and Crispy Breaded ZucchiniPosted: April 11, 2019 | Author: marga | Filed under: Meal Kits | Tags: burgers, Hello Fresh, HelloFresh meal kit reviews | Leave a comment »
I made this kit for my husband and daughter, and they were both very pleased with it. A burger may seem like a trivial thing to make, but making a new and exciting burger and getting the right amount of fat in the meat – and the right quality meat – is not always easy. Given how expensive burgers have become, even at the regular price of $21 per kit this would have been a good meal, but I got the whole kit for $11 with a promo (make sure to always check on the right hand menu for referral links with promo), which was a super bargain.
BTW, keeping the buns in the oven and then toasting them seems tow ork very well.
I have recently started trying “meal kits” and while I love the idea of simple meals I can make in under an hour, I hate how expensive they are. At $20-$28 per entree for two people, they cost about the same as take out and there are no leftovers! Still, they are super convenient.
Today, I decided to try to recreate one of those kit-meals buying the ingredients myself to see how they worked and whether I saved money. Now, if you are a professional billing $500/hour (or even $100), the time spent at the supermarket hunting these ingredients will surpass any savings you may have – so these meals are really ideal for people for whom time is literally money. But my time is far cheaper than that.
I chose this recipe for French Onion Burgers with Gruyere and Arugula because I had read good things about it while looking through Plated reviews and it has fairly common ingredients, which I hoped I could easily find at the quirky discount grocery store near my house. I wasn’t able to get all the ingredients I needed, but I think the substitutions worked well enough. I haven’t tried the Plated kit dish, so I don’t know how it compares to mine as far as flavor goes, but I don’t think it’s likely to have been significantly better. My version was far cheaper, however. While the Plated meal for 2 costs between $22 and $28, depending on where you buy it, I spent a mere $15 in groceries and had enough food for 3 people (alas, neither of my kids would eat this, so we have leftovers for tomorrow) with groceries remaining.
Here is a list of the ingredients in the recipe, what I bought and the price.
|PLATED Ingredient||My Substitution||Cost|
|Beef Stock, 1 container||Beef broth, 1/2 cup||pantry|
|Yellow Onion, 1 small||Yellow Onion, 1 regular||$0.70|
|Thyme, 1/8 oz.||Living thyme plant||$2|
|Lemon, 1||Lemon, 1||$0.80|
|Ground Beef, 12 oz||Ground Beef, 16 oz||$3.50|
|English muffins, 2||English muffins, 3||$2.80|
|Baby Arugula, 3 oz||Mixed Greens, 5 oz||$3|
|1 Tbsp||Flour, 1 Tbsp||pantry|
|Gruyere, 2 slices||Processed Gruyere Cheese product, 7 oz||$2.20|
|Unsalted butter, 3 packets||1 Tbsp||pantry|
|Dijon mustard, 2 packets||Coarse Dijon mustard||pantry|
Note that I had to substitute baby arugula for mixed greens as all the packages of baby arugula at the grocery store had expired yesterday. The price was the same than for the mixed greens, however.
Where I did save a lot of money was by using “Gruyere cheese product” instead of Gruyere. Unfortunately, my discount grocery store didn’t have it and I decided to substitute with this product as at least it had Gruyere as its main ingredient. Alas, it didn’t take anything like Gruyere and rather it was a more solid version of Laughing Cow cheese. Delicious, but far cheaper and different than real Gruyere. In reality, I don’t think the substitution mattered – the flavor of the onions was so strong that I doubt any cheese would have broken through. The cheese did add to the creaminess of the burger, however.
All in all, I felt the burgers were interesting and tasty but the combination of burger and fresh onion flavors wasn’t a big winner for either me or my husband. I sort of liked the English muffing for a bun substitution, but that’s because I was smart enough to eat the burger with knife and fork. My husband didn’t and wish he had a bun instead.
Neither of us were that fond of the lemon juice/olive oil dressing on the greens, however.
Still, I’m left with 4 English muffins I can have for breakfast, some newly discovered and delicious cheese “product” I’ll eat as a snack (indeed, it’s so fun and unexpected that I may serve it as part of my Xmas cheese course), some more greens to eat as a salad and a very cool thyme plant. I can’t complain at all.
Habit Burger is a newish chain of “upscale” fast food burger joints that is trying to spread throughout the Bay Area. One may be opening in San Leandro in a year or two, a fact that Mayor Stephen Cassidy considers a major accomplishment of his administration (I kid you not!). We were driving by Walnut Creek, and my husband decided we should stop by one of its restaurant and find out whether Cassidy’s characterization of the restaurant as “a hip, healthy and delicious” was accurate. It wasn’t, but then again, I can’t say I am surprised.
As far as fast-food chains go, Habit Burger is definitely a step up from McDonalds and their ilk. Its flavor profiles are closest to In-N-Out, but the restaurant is classier and it offers greater choices. The burgers ($3.50) were tasty, though the patties were small, thin and dry. They are charbroiled, which gives them a flavor similar to Burger King’s whoppers. My youngest daughter, who had hers with cheese & ketchup but nothing else, found it too small and too dry. This is a child that’s eaten her fair share of school cafeteria burgers, so criticism from her says somethings. I ordered my burger with guacamole and bacon ($1 extra each) and that made all the difference. The guacamole tasted fresh and vibrant and the bacon was crispy; the two combined completely redeemed the burger – but the patty was pathetic. My husband had the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger ($4.60) and he also thought the burger was just OK.
My 11-yo had the chicken sandwich ($5.75) . She found it “OK”. The chicken itself was dry and the sandwich was a bit too peppery. She wouldn’t return, even if we had one here.
Neither my husband nor kids liked the fries ($1.85). They had a hard/chewy outer part and had a strange flavor. To me, they tasted as if they’d been cooked with their peels, but that wasn’t actually the case. Still, they did remind me (flavor wise, not texture wise) of In-N-Out fries. The portion was generous, but we didn’t finish them between the four of us.
We had different opinions with respect to the shakes ($3), however. Hubby ordered the vanilla and he found it too thin and tasteless. I shared the mocha with my oldest, and we both enjoyed it. It had a nice flavor, and while it was thin, I guess you don’t expect mochas to be thicker.
The food was ready fast and, as I mentioned, the restaurant was quite nice and clean. It did smell horrible, though, like old, stale oil. Maybe that’s why their fries were so unappetizing.
In all, I’d say this place is marginally better than In-N-Out, but nowhere as good as Nation’s. It’s probably a good fit for those who like Burger King but want nicer surroundings. But if you want a burger that looks like it’s made of beef, then Habit Burger is not for you.
The Habit Burger Grill
1255 S California Blvd
Walnut Creek, CA
Nation’s is a Bay Area restaurant chain offering burgers, fries, breakfast and pies. Mike and I have been eating at Nation’s ever since college – there was one near the UC Berkeley Campus, then we were within walking distance of another, when we lived in Richmond, and we found yet another one here in San Leandro.
I don’t know if Nation’s burgers have declined in quality since we were young, or if our expectations have risen, but I don’t think the burgers are nearly as good now as I used to think they were back in my 20’s. Still, they are better than anything else you can get at a fast food joint.
Nation’s menu is very limited: burgers, hot dogs, chicken and salmon sandwiches. They also have eggs and pancakes for breakfast. And they have pies and shakes. Prices are good, from $4.10 for a plain burger to $6.80 for a bacon cheeseburger.
The regular burgers come with very generous portions of mayo, lettuce, tomato and onions. They are huge and quite tasty. Their fries, fried in canola oil, are pretty good though not outstanding.
Their pies are quite good, with flaky crusts and thick centers. We particularly enjoy the chocolate cream and banana cream, though we dislike the artificial topping with which they are covered. Their lemon merengue pie is also very good and doesn’t suffer this problem (pies start at $1.80 for a small slice).
Mike has had breakfast once or twice. The breakfast are huge but, as you can expect, not particularly high quality.
Another advantage of Nation’s is that it stays open late.
Nation’s Giant Hamburgers
San Leandro Plaza
1335 Washington Ave.
San Leandro, Ca.
Hours: 6am-3am Daily
Breakfast served till 11am
When my kids were younger, I used to take them to Yerba Buena Gardens and we’d often had lunch at the Buckhorn Grill in the Metreon. I wasn’t super fond of that restaurant, but it served food they would eat. So when my husband suggested that we had lunch at the Buckhorn Grill at Stoneridge Mall, after a visit to the Apple store, I wasn’t extremely enthusiastic. But food options were limited and it was Father’s Day, so he had the right to pick the place. I have to give him credit, he picked right. Not only was the food at this Buckhorn Grill excellent, but it was reasonably priced.
I had the “bacon cheddar buck” ($8.50) and it was pretty much the perfect sandwich. The roast beef itself was delicious, and the bacon and cheese complimented rather than competed with the meat. Mike liked his “big buck” ($9), which came with caramelized onions and he also thought it was great, at least until he tried my sandwich.
My daughters had the burgers, and while the old one was pleased with hers (at least until she tried my sandwich), the younger one didn’t like it at all. It was a plain burger, so my husband, who finished it, didn’t find it particularly exciting.
In addition to sandwiches, Buckhorn Grill offers platters of their BBQ meats. A whole take home tri tip (feeds 5 to 6) is $25. You can even order online.
Buckhorn has ten restaurants in the Bay Area/Northern California. I think they would do great if they came to San Leandro, and if our business development unit at City Hall wasn’t so lame, they would be trying to entice them to come to town.
2245 Stoneridge Mall Rd.
We went to the City Center Grill for lunch a couple of weeks ago when we took place in an Occupy Oakland protest (as you can see, these protests do bring business to nearby eateries, we saw several cops eating around as well). As it was in the weekend, our choices for lunch were limited. Unfortunately, City Center Grill wasn’t a good one.
City Center Grill offers breakfast, burgers, sandwiches and salads. We went for the cheeseburgers, $7.50 with French Fries and a small drink. The fries were OK, but the burgers left much to be desired. I don’t think we even finished them, even though they were pretty small for the price. The fries were good, however.
Service (this is a place where you order at the counter) was very friendly. Still, I wouldn’t go back.
City Center Grill
1221 Broadway, #105
M – F 6:30 AM – 3:30 PM
We stopped by Jaspers Café in Medford in our way back to California. I had researched Medford restaurants before we left and Jaspers got very good reviews – plus I’m always in the mood for a burger.
Jaspers offers the most extensive selection of burgers I have ever seen in my life, a couple of dozen at least. They also have tons of different hot dog combinations and sandwiches. In addition to offering different topics and combos on the burgers, from your regular patty & cheese to those covered with mole sauce and pot stickers, Jaspers offers several burgers made with more exotic meats. These include relatively common choices as Buffalo and Kobe Beef, but also elk, antelope and venison. Of course Mike and I had to try those burgers, which definitely was a mistake.
I had the “Widowmaker” burger ($8.20), which came with a 1/3 lb Himalayan antelope patty, covered with bacon, cheddar cheese and a peanut butter chipotle BBQ sauce. It definitely sounded interesting to me, but it was a total miss. I’ve eaten all sorts of wild meats in my day (and this reminds me I want to post a list of them) and have generally liked them, but Himalayan antelope had an off, gamy taste which I didn’t like. The closest thing I can compare it too is Indian goat meat (which I also dislike). As if that wasn’t enough of an issue, the meat was incredibly dry. I really don’t think I’ve had a drier burger. Perhaps fortunately I couldn’t really taste the meat or the other ingredients unless I made a special effort (and I did, because I wanted to see what antelope tasted like) because the flavor of the sauce was overwhelming. Really, that’s the only thing I could taste. It wasn’t bad, the BBQ sauce is pretty tasty, but it made the whole burger one-note. Needless to say I would never order this again.
Mike had almost as bad luck with the burger he ordered. His was elk and also suffered from dryness and an overwhelming sauce, though at least the elk meat itself was tasty.
Both kids had plain cheeseburgers. Camila liked it well enough, but Mika considered it the worst burger she had ever had in her life and didn’t eat much of it. It definitely tasted differently than other burgers, the taste of the meat might have been gamier. I thought it was OK, though it needed seasoning but Mike thought it was quite good – then again, he likes his food undersalted. We ordered fries and onion rings, both very tasty.
Another problem with Jaspers is that it’s a tiny place. I don’t think more than a dozen people can be seated inside (they also have outside tables). We stopped there around 3 PM the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the place was packed. It was pretty cold waiting outside, but fortunately we managed to grab a table before our burgers came.
In all, I’m glad I tried the burgers but I would definitely not eat them again. I’m curious enough to go back and try one of their whacky combinations with a beef patty, but given that Mika didn’t like them I probably won’t.
2739 N Pacific Hwy
M-Th 10:30am til 7pm
F-Sa 10:30am til 8pm
Sun 11am til 6pm