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Denver Burger Battle 2011 review, recap and relishing the memories

junkie

 

Now that I’ve awoken from my self-induced burger coma, I can tell you about the trip I took last month to burger nirvana.

In August I flew from Sacramento, California to Denver, Colorado just to eat burgers.

First I questioned the decision. Really, am I going to take a trip JUST for a few burgers?

Then I figured:  if you call yourself a junkie, you’ve gotta “act as if”.  Being a burgerjunkie means that sometimes you’ll do crazy things for burgers. I won’t mention the time we drove from Sacramento to Utah to try a burger we saw on Diner’s Drive ins and Dives, but let’s just say this Denver trip fit right in with the spirit of burgerjunkies.

Thanks to the help of Christy from Ships and Trips Travel, I got a nice last minute hotel reservation close to the event. Even bigger thanks to them for coming to my rescue when I booked the  hotel for the wrong day! Christy was able to fix the reservation and still get me a great room on the right day even though the hotel was sold out!

What is this burger event worth flying over 1000 miles for, you ask?

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Denver Burger Battle is a one night event where 12 local burger restaurants (no corporate chains), battle it out by cooking their best burgers on the spot for the title of best burger in Denver. There are official celebrity judges and a people’s choice award. The proceeds from the event go to a local charity.

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Here are the burgers I sampled during the night:

Lohi Steakbar
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They made a blue cheese burger with sauteed onions and bacon. It also had some of the usual suspects (lettuce, tomato, pickles) and was served it with some fresh cut fries.

 

One thing I liked about  Lohi was that they decided to make mini sliders instead of making full sized burgers sliced into quarters. When you slice a burger, the juices start to drain out, which can have a direct impact on flavor. Most of the burgers were eaten soon after they were quartered, so the slicing issue probably didn’t turn out to be too much of a big deal.

Elway’s

I think they put some type of spicy potato salad on this burger. Whatever it was, it worked!

Root Down

Veggie burger – nuff said ;)

Cherry Cricket

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Euclid Hall

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Euclid served a Kobe short rib burger topped with housemade kielbasa, accompanied with a kimchi and foie gras mousse served on a toasted english muffin!

Crave

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Crave brought it with a burger made of roasted duck, ginger garlic cream cheese, crispy wontons, red pepper, avocado, lettuce, hoisin, and onion.

H Burger

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The burger from H Burger was more of a classic interpretation with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and red onion on a sesame seed bun.  Sometimes simple (done right) just works.

Park Burger

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Park Burger came with “The Croque” burger which give a nod to the french Croque Madame sandwich.

I’ve got a soft spot for a bacon cheeseburger with fried egg, so I thought this one would be a sure win for me.  This was my 8th burger sample of the night and it definitely stood out.  It was a 1/3 pound Harris Ranch beef patty topped with a fried egg, baby Swiss cheese, thinly sliced uncured rosemary ham, their signature burger sauce on a Grateful Bread potato bun.

Argyll Gastropub

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By the 9th burger of the night, I thought I’d hit a wall, but instead I found my favorite burger of the evening!

The folks from Argyll cooked up a burger with a beautiful blend of beef and lamb. You got the heartiness of the beef and the sweet richness of the lamb. Quality and flavor of  the beef patty is one of the most important aspects of a burger. It’s what separates the good burgers from the “amazing burgers”.

The guys from Argyll delivered an amazing burger and after I finished my burgerrounds, I was happy to give them  my People’s Choice vote.

Tag

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It took me about 5 minutes to work myself up to eating the burger from Tag.

Their burger was made from KANGAROO!

I’m not an exotic burger eater by any stretch of the imagination. I only barely had my first lamb a few months ago.

I figured that if I was ever going to eat a Kangaroo, this would be the time. Hopped up on  burger adrenaline (pun intended), I figured the euphoria from eating so well would carry me through the quarter sized sample sandwich slice.

As everyone but me knows, kangaroo meat tends to be dry. To combat this, the folks from Tag did some type of burger magic where they rendered the kangaroo meat in beef fat to add make the patty juicier.

Although I probably wouldn’t do it again, the burger was surprisingly good. I felt a little like Katy Perry.

I ate a roo and I liked it!

Highland

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Highland Park served a burger with mushrooms and cheese. It was pretty good, but nothing really stood out for me.

Berkshire

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The burger from Berkshire SOUNDED soooo good.

Unfortunately, it was my 12th and last burger of the night.

Did I mention there was also free beer and wine:

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And a mixologist on site pouring some delicious drinks with fresh muddled peaches:

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A couple of the burger joints also paired their samples with a mini milkshake.

Needless to say, when it came time for me to take a bite into Berkshire’s burger offering, I had to tap out.

There burger was made from American Kobe beef stuffed with cherry coke braised short ribs with a truffled mayonnaise and some type of amazing bacon on top (and they threw in an extra side of bacon for good measure).

I wanted to eat the burger, but my mouth just refused.

I read once that a person could get drunk off water if they drink enough. I’m now convinced the same is true for burgers :)

THE VERDICT

Overall, the Denver Burger Battle event was quite well attended (over 800 paying attendees), extremely well organized, and full of positive, friendly people all coming together to enjoy some burgers for a great cause. I almost shed a tear. A burger junkie like me couldn’t have asked for a better event.

If I had to give some criticism, I only wish there was some kind of scorecard or hand out with a description of each restaurants burgers to make it easier to remember the flavors.

Thinking back on the night seems like a burger blur. A burger blur that was so worth every inch of the 1000+ mile trip!

You can read the judges and People’s Choice winner picks on the official Denver Burger Battle website. If you’re anywhere near the area next year, this is an even a true burger junkie wouldn’t want to miss!

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