The Fine Art of Rembrandt's

Editor's Note: This article refers to a burger that is no longer available. Don't be sad though, they made a new, better burger. Read about it.

We take the quest seriously, and will investigate any claim that a burger is “the best,” or “must be tried.” Basically, if someone says “this is my favorite burger,” we have to try it. So it was with Rembrandt's that someone claimed it had the best burger in Philadelphia. That person happened to be me, circa 2007. I have little memory of this and even less of a recollection of the burger itself. So, on my own advice we went to try the Paesano Burger for the first time.

Rembrandt's is the kind of place that draws people who enjoy a low-key meal in a cozy, quiet, atmosphere where the food is wonderful (translation: New Jersey residents will be more comfortable here). The place is a staple of the Fairmount/Art Museum area and rightly so. When I ordered a very hop-heavy local IPA, the waitress brought me an impromptu sample of it and another brew, just because she thought I might like to try a similar, but what she found to be better, IPA. I stuck with my original choice, but the sentiment was greatly appreciated. The interior, furnished with fixtures imported from Europe and nearly exclusively wood-finished, makes you feel as though you are traveling through Amsterdam, minus the stoners who make that city a sort of drug mecca. The bar/cafe is friendly and relaxed, and apparently the kind of place in which you may be hit on relentlessly by members of both sexes if you happen be drinking liberally and look like the sketch of Rembrandt that accompanies the menu, as I also apparently did circa 2007. Normally looking like Rembrandt van Rijn won't help the cause of finding a mate, but when you walk through the doors of this restaurant you may be in an alternate universe, one in which, at least in my case, your memory no longer functions. Just like that time I visited Amsterdam. I think...

Anyway, this time, I brought a notebook.

This burger is an ethnic stereotype.

Laurence: As previously stated I have, so I am told, eaten and reviewed this burger before. But I don't remember that, so this was, for all intents and purposes, my first taste. Let the record state that the Paesano Burger is indeed your friend. I am a huge fan of French onion soup. The caramelized onions and the balsamic drizzle mixed with the Gorgonzola in a little dance that I found reminiscent of a perfect French onion soup with the amazing addition of a burger in the center. A crazy detail, not mentioned on the menu, is that the fries come on the burger. I find this combination strangely inspired. Those crispy potato delights do something to add to the burger, not just compliment it. Some may disagree. Those people don't have any friends, so who cares about them anyway. My final thought is this: The Paesano isn't my favorite burger in the city anymore but it's close. The combination of price, quality and the establishment's atmosphere ensure I won't forget it this time, and that I'll be returning for seconds, sooner rather than later, which is more than I can say for other burgers I've given higher ratings. Rating: 7/10.

Kyle: The Paesano Burger, aside from making me feel uncomfortable when ordering it, is fantastic. Before the plate touches the table, the aroma hits you, with a vinegar-and-onion scent that immediately activates the glands in the back of your tongue. And those taste buds will be overwhelmed during this meal. From the brilliant use of balsamic vinaigrette to the sharp and fragrant gorgonzola, there are salty and sharp tastes dripping off of every inch of the pleasantly misshapen burger.

A note on burger shape: one of my memories from that burger years ago was a discussion between Laur and I, where we both agreed that a good baseline barometer for a real hamburger is that it in no way looks like a McDonald's hamburger; that is to say, the meat is not uniform. Perfectly circular burgers are a sure sign you're eating at Chez Sysco. Rembrandt's is having none of that, with a thick and well-seasoned patty clearly made in the kitchen by human hands. I ordered medium, and my burger was a light brown most of the way through with a pinkish center. The french fries on top of the burger, one of the most-lauded points, were a little overdone and surprisingly lacking in salt; this could be a deliberate decision since there are so many other salty flavors, and it isn't a problem, but I was hoping to shrivel up like a slug on a saltlick. The Paesano Burger is excellent, with no major strikes against it and a price that's easy to swallow. Rating: 7/10.