Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bobby's Burger Palace (Uncasville, CT/Mohegan Sun)

Exterior view of the menu boards
Bobby's Burger Palace is Bobby Flay's semi-upscale, semi-old school style burger bar, with twelve locations in five states and the District of Columbia, including one at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, CT.  Among the largest casinos in the world, Mohegan Sun has many fine features, but quite simply, food is not their focus, so when I go, I tend to have trouble finding decent food other than an old stand-by, Jasper White's Summer Shack, which closes by 11:00pm Sunday through Thursday.  Since I was there on a Wednesday and hungry around midnight, I figured a burger was my best option.  I had been to BBP once before, and wasn't displeased by the burger I had, though it was unremarkable to the point that I can't remember what I ate the first time; it may have been the Bobby Blue Burger, consisting of a patty with blue cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato.  The pistachio shake I had was by far the best part, but even that wasn't perfect, as it was slightly bitter and a little overpowering.  Thankfully, this was a much better, and more memorable experience. 

Napa Valley Burger (I couldn't resist taking a couple bites) and sweet potato fries
I chose the Napa Valley Burger this time, which is a certified Angus beef patty with fresh goat cheese, watercress, and Meyer lemon honey mustard, along with an order of sweet potato fries, that come with a honey mustard horseradish sauce.  The burger, ordered (and served) rare, was fantastic, almost as good as the burger from Burger Bar in Las Vegas, failing to match up only because the bun was nothing special and the meat was just not quite as high quality as at Hubert Keller's restaurant.  The beef was solid, however, with good flavor, and it held together nicely.  The cheese, strong but not overwhelming, was perfectly creamy and demonstrated exactly why chevre tends to be my cheese of choice, as it really compliments most other ingredients without taking over.  The watercress was a background ingredient, and worked essentially the same as any other green would have, but it's a nice change of pace from iceberg lettuce.  The least successful part was the sauce, not because it didn't taste good (it was pretty awesome, actually), but because it was just too messy.  I think a burger should be messy, but when almost as much sauce ends up on the plate afterwards as stayed on the burger, not to mention carrying off some of the cheese with it, there is a problem.  The sauce wasn't complicated, really just a thinned out honey mustard with a nice citrus bite, but quite tasty; if they had made sure it was a little thicker I think it would have been virtually perfect. 

The sweet potato fries were really good, but not so good that after trying to put the burger down and make a dent in the (rather large) cup they came in, I had two and then finished the burger.  The fries were crispier than I have ever seen with sweet potato fries before, covered in a visible amount of kosher salt, which I was worried would lead to them tasting over-salted, but only a few, which were completely doused in salt, were.  The honey mustard horseradish sauce was good, simple like the sauce on the burger, but instead of a bit of a citrus bite, there was instead the sinus clearing spice of horseradish, which could have been stronger but is likely designed to not offend people who are less accustomed to that particular root.  I also used the chipotle bar-b-que, one of about five sauces that are placed at every table, and this spicy sauce went perfectly with the slightly sweet and salty flavors of the fries.  You get a rather large serving of fries, which I could easily have split with someone else and not been left wanting.

So, overall, I had a really good meal, for a pretty reasonable price ($7.75 for the burger, $3.00 for the fries, and I went with water since I had to drive home), that makes me think either my first trip was an aberration or that I just picked the wrong thing that time.  I will likely return to BBP at some point, and it's worth trying if you're at Mohegan or near one of their other locations.  That said, however, if given other options, I probably would choose something else, partially because the burger is not that much better than most, and also because I find Bobby Flay to be a bit of an asshole.  I watch a lot Food Network, on which he is omnipresent, and I am constantly struck by just how poorly he treats people, both those who work for him and those around him.  He is a showman who puts on a good face most of the time, but he consistently lets his true colors out, and they are not positive at all.  If his food was far and away better than everything else, I'd probably find a way to ignore that completely, but with it being very good, but not great, I always end up just thinking about how little I want to put more money into his pocket; too bad Mohegan doesn't have better options available.


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