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Classic Burger Joint: Crispy, Crunchy, Golden, Awesome Fries
Days are passing, the world is improving and Lebanon's culinary sector is raising the bar higher and higher. Just close your eyes and remember what we used to eat couple of years ago. Where could we find the best burger? Did we ever ask for Augus beef? The Pain D'Or bread was the highest quality available. Organic vegetables? In Lebanon? Did you ever dream of eating endives planted in our own soil? 2011 was the year of change, the year of improvements, the year when harsh competition and the journey of the survival of the fittest began.
In today's world, average is unacceptable, this is why all major renowned restaurants work on a daily basis to maintain and improve the picky consumers needs, and to tell you the truth, I've been personally changing the way I see things. I have become very meticulous about food and will not accept average, especially that Lebanon's culinary wonders is what people wave about around the world - the least we should do is maintain its level. The below review might be a bit controversial and I know that most of you will not agree with me but it's a personal opinion which can create a change in a brand I love and respect. A couple of weeks ago, and for the first time in Lebanon, a detailed comparison of 9 different burgers has been done comparing in real time all the ingredients of the world's favorite sandwich. That day, I discovered little things a few know, notice or think about. That review was a turning point in my culinary journey. As you might remember, Classic Burger Joint didn't score well when it comes to delivery for many reasons of which the overuse of sauce, a super fluffy bun that absorbs liquid easily and a piece of meat that tastes very bad when cold. I wanted to prove to myself that all of these negative points don't exist in the burger when served and eaten in-house. Visiting the Jal El Deeb branch for lunch I decided to order the Light Burger even though I don't believe that a burger can be "Light"; a burger is a burger with all its fat and calories.
- A yellow and white ambiance haunts the place
- An industrial feel adds a funky American unique style
- Metallic electrical cables, air conditioning ducts and factory lights are few of the many interesting details
- Posters decorate the concrete walls
- The famous signature mirror makes the place look much bigger
- A brick wall adds a New Yorker touch
- Wooden tables surrounded by wooden chairs
- Paper placemats and ketchup bottles decorate all the tables
- An open kitchen with mouthwatering grilling sounds
- Ketchup, mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, Jalapeños and other ingredients are displayed on stainless shelves
- Two LCD screens broadcast the latest sports events
- My favorite is the long leather chesterfield green sofa that follows the wall under the main mirror
The Light burger: The classic patty in a delicious brown bun with lettuce, tomato, pickles and light classic sauce, served with baked potato and a side salad. 15,000L.L
The Classic Cheese: Succulent charcoal grilled patty with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and classc deli sauce with double cheddar cheese 16,000L.L The burger comes in a circular white plate covered with CBJ branded absorbant paper that helps in the decoration and cleans up the fries from its oil at the same time. As for the light edition and since it isn't served with fries, the paper is folded in half.
A CBJ burger's portrait:
- A beautiful and perfectly round piece of bread decorated in many exotic colors. Yellow, green, red, brown and camel activate all your senses
- Classic Burger Joint has the best bun in Lebanon and by far. It is spongier than others, bigger in size, different in consistency and covered with oats and sesame seeds making it unique of its kind
- Inside, the many different ingredients are layered one on top of the other in a classy and beautiful setup
- A thin slice of crunchy fresh iceberg lettuce
- Thick sweet pickles add an American touch and taste to the mix
- One or two thin tomato slices, depending on their size, are peacefully deposited on the lettuce
- The upper bun is covered with the CBJ signature deli sauce, light or any other you order
- At the bottom, embracing the mix is a thin piece of 130g meat wearing a yellow cheese robe
My Rating of the Burger: 35/50
- Bread: 10/10
- Ingredients: 10/10
- Sauce: 06/10
- Meat: 02/10
- Overall Taste: 07/10
For an overall taste, the burger is good. 33/40 if we don't take into consideration the meat. The mix of all the premium ingredients make of it one of the most renowned in the country. As I always said, Classic Burger Joint is "THE" burger of all ages. A 12 years old will love it as much as a 70 years old will. But here, the question is: For a restaurants that has a slogan "Hamburgers is all we do" is 02/10 for a meat acceptable?
After the first bite, and feeling a bizarre kind of taste crunching under my teeth, I decided to cut the burger in half and decorticate it. The meat:
- The meat, as the picture shows it is too condensed. Like one single piece of steak
- Isn't the burger meat a hashed one? Shouldn't it be kept hashed so it crumbles gently under your teeth?
- The chef seems to have understood the concept wrong: A meat, on the grill should not be touched and surely never ever pressed. Pressing the meat to grill it quicker extracts all its juiciness and softness
- It looks like one block and stays as one even when eaten
- Eating this same meat you feel its chewiness, especially if you taste it alone, without all the other ingredients
- The meat is always burnt on the sides
- And for my taste it is surely overcooked -taking into consideration that CBJ is a diner and that the meat's cooking needs to please all customers
- Keeping the meat aside for only 5 minutes to cool down, it transforms into something you don't really want to try. Hard, chewy, elastic, a greyish color and hard pieces of fat crunch under your teeth
Here, I remembered that CBJ has a thicker meat, the 170g, so I ordered one to try it and compare:
- The meat is less condensed
- Has a lighter color
- You see and feel the hashed meat
- It's definitely juicier
- Since it's thicker, it does not burn on the sides
- It crumbles under your teeth when you chew it making all the ingredients touch your taste buds
So, for an additional cost of 500L.L per burger, consider using only the thick meat in all the orders. The meat I had today is surely not up to CBJ's standards and expectations.
The needed changes in my opinion: "Hamburgers is all we do" has a certain standard to preserve:
- Change the meat quality. It's you who should have Angus beef patties not the others
- Upscale to 170g meat
- Train the chefs not to press the meat and leave it to grill in peace
- The best you can do is have the meat prepared on spot. Defrosting a frozen piece of meat gives it an unappetising greyish color
- Isn't Lollo Verde lettuce better than the thick crunchy iceberg?
- As for the light sauce, with all the following ingredients: pepper, tomato, ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce and seasoning is not that light to start and way too sweet. Heinz ketchup cannot be mixed with HP sauce, it gives a dessert like couli finish.
Reminder: "Une bonne viande n'est jamais battue, jamais pressée"
What people love about Classic Burger Joint:
- The place is beautifully decorated and feels welcoming
- The staff is always smiling and professional
- Fries are fresh and cut on a daily basis. They taste homemade
- Keeping the fries skin is a wise decision
- A meal's price is reasonable and affordable
So, for a delivery burger, we have a problem, and for a dine-in we have another. With all its issues, CBJ's burger is still one of the best and part of my Top10 list wishing the improvements will make it stand out from the others.