Is it Wrong to Call The Dandelion
Editor's Note: This article is an audit of an earlier review. We're not saying we were wrong so much as maybe we misrepresented this burger.
When we last decided to check out The Dandelion it was opening week. The bar was crowded, noisy and had a peculiar concentration of highly irritating people. The burger we sampled was above average but not by very much. The beer was overpriced and the pours were small. It was overall not a particularly enjoyable place to eat. But in the time since that review we have heard from many trusted opinions that The Dandelion is an excellent establishment with first class food and beautifully decorated spaces. There seemed to be a disconnect and so for perhaps the first time we conceded that we could be wrong. We were pretty sure we were right because that is one of only tenets of our belief system. And so we made the sojourn once again into Stephen Starr's English themed gastro-pub.
The Burger: Roughly the same burger ate last time, The Dandelion's burger is a house blend of aged beef with translates to wise and delicious beef. It's topped with Vermont sharp cheddar, thinly sliced pickles and apple smoked bacon.
Laurence: I really enjoy being right. Who doesn't? It sure feels better than being wrong. So it took Kyle some work to convince me to return to The Dandelion. My experience this time was significantly better. We went later at night as the happy hour crowd was dwindling and eventually evaporated. We were seated in the nicer, more spacious and less bustling upstairs bar. Our next closest table was inhabited by pretty girls. All in all it was like eating at a totally different restaurant.
But the burger was essentially the same burger. I remembered the taste... queue the flashback.
Dandelion's special sauce and pickle make a statement. They add a tangy, salty punch to the burger. The beef is excellent. How excellent? It's not Pub and Kitchen excellent. It's not Amada excellent, and it's not Butcher and Singer excellent either. But it does stand out as being very good. It is ground fine and has no hint of anything but wonderful fat-marbled beef. Being dry aged, it does not come off as very greasy, which depending on your preference can be a good thing. I happen to like cutting my burger and seeing a small puddle form on my plate but that may not be for everyone. The meat is spiced lightly and there is a nice blend of flavors with the other ingredients. Proper attention to cooking temperature is given.
The bun is a really beautiful thing too. It's just everything you could ever ask for from bread. Soft, and sweet. That is perhaps the only thing that was better than I remembered it.
So what's the deal? The meal was good last time and it was pretty good this time. Except last time I hated being there and this time I didn't. I may have been unjust. It's a better burger than the points I gave it. Still we're only talking a point difference. It's far from the top. I could easily name 10 burgers I like better and still be very fair to the quality and preparation of this burger. But would I go back. Yes, I certainly would and I'd probably like it but do I think it's a must on a burger tour of the city? Not even close. But most of us who read this probably live here and is The Dandelion a must for Philadelphia burger eaters. Yes it is. Rating: 7/10.
Kyle: Hidden among credit cards and dry cleaning tickets, the wallet of my friend Sean contains a one-of-a-kind scrap of paper. Scrawly handwriting, jittery with excitement, marks a singular event. The note reads:
"05/20/2002: Kyle was wrong."
Yes, I was wrong. I'm a big enough man to admit that. I can do that. It was a horrible feeling, and one I fortunately haven't had to encounter since. What I was wrong about is lost to the annuls of time, but that's not important. What's relevant is that I was able to admit my only, isolated fault, and that makes me a better person than you.
Even I can error. It's unlikely, but it happened exactly one time before, so it is within the realm of possibility. And because of this, I am completely comfortable and humble in admitting that I was kind of a little wrong about Dandelion's burger. Sorta.
Now let's be clear, I wasn't wrong. Not enough to be "wrong" wrong. Not like you wrong, or anything. Nearly everything I said in my previous review remains true. The House Blend Aged Beef Burger continues to sit on a decadently buttery brioche. The toppings, similarly, remain mostly the same. The sharp Vermont cheddar has a salty bite, the razor-thin pickles are crisp and briny, the fries are thick and crunchy (with slightly more salt), and the secret sauce continues to be horseradish.
One of the only differences was the bacon, thicker than last time and with a distinctly pork flavor: we're talking Ballpark Franks pig here. Still, this worked very well with the other strong flavors. More importantly, I wasn't wrong before, because it's thicker now and that makes it intrinsically different so the comparison is impossible.
Moving on, the beef itself remains excellent. It's still obscenely rich and fatty, near pitch on the outside with a perfect medium rare center. Whatever aging process they use imparts a smoky musk to the meat, which breaks apart like paxil-popper's heart after going a day without the drug: readily and with the slightest disturbance. I picked up more smoke and salt this time around, flavors more subdued (or more likely overshadowed) last go around.
Dandelion's burger is excellent. It also still seems overpriced, especially when compared to offerings at Amada or Adsum, or even Butcher & Singer at lunch. And while I would prefer those burgers to this, I would still eat and recommend Dandelion, and think it deserves a better rating than we originally gave. I was right about the burger, I just gave the wrong number, so I was only semi-wrong. Not even wrong, really. It's more accurate to say that I was mostly right.
At the end of the day, it's all semantics. Burgerdelphia's original rating of The Dandelion was wrong, and in correcting that error we are admitting Burgerdelphia's first article was wrong. And Laurence's name was at the top of that article, so what's ultimately important here is that Laurence was wrong. I feel better already. Rating: 8/10.
Okay so maybe we were sorta wrong. Kinda but only a little bit. The Dandelion is a bit overpriced, and half pints set you back the same as full pints anywhere else but the burger is good and worth eating any day of the week.