Butcher & Singer or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Burger

Editor's note: This burger was re-reviewed and contains a new rating. You may be want to read the newest infomation available.  

Butcher & Singer may be the only Stephen Starr restaurant that isn't a parody of itself. From the subdued colors to the jazz soundtrack to the formal waitstaff attire, it lacks the Disneyland artifice of Starr's other establishments.

That's not to say it isn't pretentious; anything so heavily choreographed and stylized certainly is. But it's an old-fashioned pretension, and one that suits the menu well. When you're selling aHendrick's martini for $16, you need your eatery to have some substantial gravitas, and a high-end steakhouse is the ideal venue. Starr's has hit the right note for atmosphere, not too saccharine nor stylized, and one can appreciate the mood without being forced to focus on it, so long as you can ignore the gentleman with the Affliction T-shirt and Jersey accent demanding some catsup for his dry-aged porterhouse. Note to restauranteurs: Dress codes are not a bad thing.

This is why I forgot to take a photo of the Butcher & Singer burger.

Burgerdelphia's inaugural expedition got off to an inauspicious start; it did not take long to realize that there were not, in fact, any burgers listed on the menu. After a brief moment of “let's set the table on fire” panic, our charming waitress named something-or-other (really, I promise she was charming) checked with the chef and assured us that animal-between-bread technology was possible. A short wait later, and we were presented with 10 oz. of ground filet mignon sitting on a house-baked bun, with sauteed onions, cheddar cheese and homemade Russian dressing on top, and lettuce, tomato, deli-style pickles and enough fries on the side to clog the arteries of everyone at the next table. It's a massive amount of food; for a point of reference, a Quarter Pounder contains 4 oz. of meat-like product, so we're looking at a sandwich that's approaching one pound of flesh. And that's to say nothing of the side of fries that dwarfs the entree itself.

Kyle: This is the first meal we've had as part of the quest for Philly's best burger, and without a formal basis for comparison it's difficult to be objective. With that in mind, this is the best goddamn burger on the goddamn planet. The meat was juicy and incredibly flavorful, while the cheddar and Russian dressing melded together in a magical condiment miscegenation to create an extremely sharp and tangy topping that perfectly complemented the richness of the beef. The onions were tender and, in a touch of genius we always appreciate, placed under the cheese prior to melting. The french fries were abundant, and while not the greatest I've ever had, were certainly well above average. At least, the four I was able to fit in my stomach were quite tasty. (Pro tip: do not accept a second dinner roll.) The cost of the meal and fact that the fries were not as orgasmic as the burger are the only knocks against this dish, and to consider either a strike is a stretch. Rating: 9/10.

Laurence: Starting Burgerdelphia at Butcher & Singer is a bit like losing your virginity to Angelina Jolie. There are probably better looking women out there but they will be difficult to find and convince into bed. My analogy breaks down here because it is usually not hard to convince a burger to get in your mouth. And so I will move on. I remain irritated that the burger is listed on the restaurant's online menu but doesn't appear on the menu they hand you at the table. It definitely felt like a bait-and-switch, though I have to admit the term may not be fully appropriate in this case. Rarely do you find yourself baited only to have the switch be a far superior product. That aside, let me direct your attention to Exhibit A: filet minion burger. I always order burgers medium-well. Usually this goes poorly. Many establishments simply do not place the same value on a burger customer that they do on a steak customer and as a result medium-well burgers are cooked to the point of being inedible. Butcher & Singer, however, did not disappoint. The meat was excellent: slightly pink, juicy and flavorful. The bun was equally excellent in that it had was fresh; had a thin, crisp crust; and superb taste. It was indeed a thought-out addition, not simply an anything-will-do necessity to hold the meat. The onions were so rich, brown and buttery, I knew they had been simmering for hours. The end result was a finely tuned taste symphony. But there was a something out of tune. Where I found fault was actually in the cheese/dressing mix. The flavor combination tasted too sharp and it distracted me from the burger. The lettuce, though crisp, was also bland (iceberg lettuce is hardly food anyway). I want to be very clear that these negatives do not hold equal weight with the positives of the ridiculously good meat/bun/onion. Rating: 8/10.