Just Because it's Vintage Doesn't Mean it's Good
Tria has been the de facto wine bar in Philadelphia since 2004. Between the original Rittenhouse bar, the Washington Square West spot, and the recently-renamed UCity location, it's become a citywide institution known for reliably decent food, good wine, and a semi-pretentious crowd.
However, it is far from the only option. If you're feeling a little richer in spirit (i.e., money) you can swing by Meritage, and if you're a little poorer you can bar-hop the Blue Mountain Vineyards stores asking for free tastings. Which I've never done.
Beyond that, you have the superb Le Bec-Fin wine list at your disposal while visiting Le Bar Ly... err, Tryst, and anything within the Vetri empire is sure to steer you right. Throw in The Wine School of Philadelphia and you'll realize that, for all the talk of Philly as a beer city, we have a robust wine culture as well.
But none of those good options serve a burger, so we had to go to Vintage. Goddamnit.
The Burger: The Vintage Burger includes bacon, roasted red peppers and Manchego cheese. It's been aged for 6 years in oak barrels and then blended with some antifreeze because they're willing to bet your palate can't tell the difference.
Kyle: Walking into Vintage, what I was most excited about was the potential. Not the potential for the bar or the burger, but the potential for really awful puns based on the word "vintage" and other wine references. Let's see how many I can come up with.
The small beef patty is heavily, heavily salted. It doesn't quite hit a lip-cracking level of dryness, but the beef will have you sucking down those house wines faster than you can taste them. Hidden behind the taste of salt is the subtle hint of nothing. Further, a few bites were met with the crunch of gristle, which really is unforgivable.
Years ago it was a treat to get a warm, soft, buttery brioche with your meal, but because it's become the go-to bun for every restaurant and every sandwich in the city, chefs are getting lazy. The average today is brioche, and as a result, most brioche is average. Vintage jumped right into the middle of this bandwagon, with a dry and uninspired roll that is not helping the moisture-sucking salt in the burger.
Mediocrity continues with bland Manchego cheese and charred bacon. Manchego is a mild, semi-milky cheese, and works well as a minor note when paired with rich, strong flavors; why they chose to use it here, I don't know. The only topping of note here is the bacon; unfortunately, that note was burned up with the rest of the overcooked pork. I'd like to imagine the note read "Bacon was here."
Vintage's burger comes with a peppery chipotle sauce for their house-cut fries, which are seasoned with salt and chive. These sides are the best part of the meal; if they offer it as a happy hour appetizer, you could do worse.
While it is probably clear from this review that Vintage's burger isn't that good, what should also be made clear is that I'm an asshole. That I review everything through shit-colored glasses should be noted and taken appropriate. The burger at Vintage isn't that bad, really; it's just got nothing good going for it. I'm sure there are people who love this bar, and this burger. But there are also people in the world who think god exists and that he designed bananas to fit into human hands. So what I'm trying to say is, if you like Vintage, you're probably a creationist retard and once starred on Growing Pains. Rating: 5/10.
"But Kyle, you remarkably handsome man," you say, "I didn't count a single pun in your article!" That's because puns aren't funny. If you want puns, go narwhal your bacon elsewhere. Only teenagers and hack writers like puns.
Read on for Laurence's pun-filled article.
Laurence: Wine bars tend to be upscale, a codeword for snobby, so they're not usually the kind of places that I find myself frequenting. This same inclination to look down on proletariat tastes is what drew me to the burger at Vintage. I figured if a wine bar were to offer a food so humble and common as the lowly burger, surely it would only serve an amazing burger.
As it turns out Vintage is not a particularly suave wine bar and is therefore relaxed and comfortable without all the affect. This may go some way toward explaining why the burger at Vintage isn't very good.
Where I was hoping for a fine vintage of burger I was greeted with something more akin to vinegar. Let me explain. A fine burger, unlike a fine wine, should rarely be aged. Like a fine wine a burger that is aged must be aged under the proper conditions. Having sampled the excellent dry aged burger at Pub and Kitchen, the bar has been set rather high on aging meat. The thing about Vintage's aging process is that it probably wasn't intentional at all, being that the burger is not referred to as dry aged at all. The reason I call attention to the age of the burger is that the meat had a peculiar taste that I was unable to quite verbalize until I ate a much better burger the other day (stay tuned kids). The taste I was finally able to identify was that of not very good meat. It's a slightly pungent ammonia-like smell. A good way to counteract this taste is with spices, notably salt. Sure enough, salt was the most prominent spice on the meat.
Most fine wines these days tend to be from a single grape giving a uniformity to the elixir. But a bad wine may mix several grape varieties somewhat indiscriminately. This brings me to the bacon on my burger, which was something of a hodgepodge, at least as far as the cooking is concerned. It had some areas that were fatty, chewy and undercooked, and others that were crispy an lean. The uniting factor was that it was very thin bacon, a tell-tale sign that it was cheap bacon.
The brioche bun was passable, even good, but that's on par with saying that the cork in a bottle of cooked merlot is in excellent condition.
The only aspect of the meal I'd recommend was not part of the burger. The fries were sprinkled with chives and were very crisp and salty. They were a near perfect golden brown with the skin on. I also enjoyed the roasted chipotle-pepper sauce, equivalent to really liking the label on a box of wine.
Perhaps this burger needs to be remade with a better recipe and a little more care. Right now its closest similarity to a fine wine is the fact that it should be stomped on. Rating: 4/10.
Do you like wine? Go to Tria. Do you like burgers? Go anywhere else.