The Last Supper

Burger Breakdown

Supper - Map It!
Applewood bacon, gruyere, caramelized onions and roasted tomatos dropped in a saline solution.
Thick, delicious fingerling potatoes fried in duck fat and heavily salted.

Growing up, South Street between 2nd and 6th defined Philadelphia for me, and in a way it still does. In the '90s, South Street was Zipperhead, Spaceboy Records, used book stores and Lorenzo's, and with 50 percent of the population wearing Crass T-shirts, I thought Philly was cool and artsy. Today, South Street is Dr. Denim, Fat Tuesdays, used cell phone stores and Lorenzo's, and with 50 percent of the population being assaulted by bike cops, it's a far more accurate representation of our fair city than my teenage memories.

Supper exists on the part of South Street beyond this cultural microcosm. It's the part of South Street you never go to. It's the part that thinks it makes sense to have Whole Foods next to Superfresh. It's the part of the city where Harry's Occult Shop can exist for 94 years despite never being open. South Street between between 10th and Broad is the Twilight Zone, the city's collective unconscious where it stores all its hopes and fears and flash mobs and racial profilings. It's the area of the city that makes no sense, but also makes perfect sense, and it's here that you find Supper's homey, hazelnut-colored interior.

The chestnut-and-orange palette is complemented with friendly lighting and decorations designed to remind you that you're eating in a place named after eating. Utensils and cooking appliances form the wall fixtures, while jars of spices and preserves line shelves far enough from the kitchen to belie any functional purpose. Supper's décor is bright and pleasant, like an IKEA prefab room: It's all a little too nice and designed and too perfect, which makes you kind of hate it. But you could really use some of those lamps.

The Burger: An 80/20 ground brisket patty, the Supper Burger includes applewood bacon, gruyere, caramelized onions and roasted potatoes, with duck fat-fried fingerling potatoes all for $14. The staff gives you smiles for free. They're also very bright and pleasant. I kind of hate that too.

Supper Burger

Kyle: With almost every review I've done, I've known from the first keystroke what the rating will be, and I guide my writing accordingly. But I still don't know what I think of the Supper Burger, and I don't know where this review will take me.

Come, join me on this adventure.

My first impressions were overwhelmingly positive. The beef patty was a large 8 oz., full of fat and blood and juice, with a soft touch and strong salty taste. Fluffy and buttered, the grilled brioche gave easily to the bite and offered a sweet complement to the sandwich. The bacon was thick and a little soft, but still delicious with a light, smokey flavor, and the melty gruyere smothered everything in a rich coating. With the first bite, I knew we had found something good.

Still, something wasn't right, and I couldn't place my finger on it. There was certainly nothing wrong with the taste: The fatty flavor of brisket was very noticeable. Many people I've met don't like the taste and texture of brisket, but if you grew up in a predominantly Jewish area, it's something you love. Also, those people are antisemites.

It wasn't the ingredients, nor was it the preparation that was off, as my burger was a perfect pink throughout. The setting, the staff, everything seemed in place, but something was bothered me.

It was a few bites in when it struck me. I picked up the burger a little too roughly, and when I squeezed, the bread collapsed and the burger squeezed out the sides like a jelly-filled donut. Burgers, while messy, are a very solid meal, yet everything here was strangely soft and wet. Beef dripped from the burger, covering my hands and my plate in damp little chunks that were hard to gras without breaking further.

I tried to compare it to other meats. At first I wrote that it was like meatloaf, but the best meatloaf ever, yet it was too wet for that. Later, I compared it to pulled pork but quickly wrote that off as well: while it was equally as messy, it didn't have the same shredded consistency as pork, coming apart too easily. Laurence and I discussed how it was almost like a pâté, but even that congeals more than this beef.

For days I labored over the best way to describe it, and for days I came up with nothing. Then, a week later, I watched my girlfriend feed her cat.

The Supper Burger feels like wet cat food.

It was my “eureka” moment. I stepped into a bathtub and discovered it was filled with Fancy Feast. It was the perfect description, but it was too perfect: it made me forget the way the burger tasted. Whenever I thought about about it, I saw a mound of gelatinous pink slop on a bun, and when I tried to recall the flavor all I could think of was ground salmon and gravy. If it weren't for my notes, I'd have no idea what the burger tasted like at all.

When I left the restaurant I thought the burger was an 8, but now I can think of is soft, mushy, mealy cat food. The burger is dead to me. I can never go back to those innocent times. Cats have ruined the Supper burger for me. Cats have ruined everything for me. You can go to Supper for the burger if you are brave, but whatever you do, try not to think of this.

Rating: Fuck cats.

Burger at Supper

Laurence: I've always felt supper was an English thing, or at least a southern thing, which in general means I don't like it. I don't suppose there's anything wrong with the meal, just that there's something wrong with the name for the meal. Overall my prejudice hadn't really been a valid point until I arrived at Supper.

Supper is the kind of restaurant you can't help but like. Mainly because it is generically classy. From the large format Americana photos of farms adorning the walls to the sleek cocktail menu, Supper is a stereotype of a classy restaurant come to life. I happen to like it and think the execution of the place is quite successful. After all, creating a working venue that feels like a movie set is usually the providence of Stephen Starr but Supper pulls off the ambiance quite well with a waitstaff, drinks, and food to match.

The burger at Supper isn't really an oddball on the menu as often seems to be the case at nicer restaurants. At Supper the burger fits nicely among a menu full of simply prepared, excellent dishes. Everything on this burger is done well. From the bun, an obscenely fatty, buttered, brioche, to the thick patty which traps the bacon and onions under a french onion soup worthy layer of melted cheese, this burger is a pull the stops out cholesterol hammer of fine ingredients and rich tastes.

I had one issue with my meal however, and it is an issue that should not be taken lightly. Texture can make or break a burger. I found this out the hard way last year at Parc. There's a find line in the world of food preparation. As a chef I imagine you want to stand out, to make an impression, and perhaps even to push the lines of expectation. But crossing the line leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Texture can factor heavily into this. Take oysters for instance. More than anything else, it is the texture that people have trouble with. Taste can be masked with only a small volume of a stronger flavor. Texture requires considerable material to be significantly changed. Supper's burger had a serious structural integrity issue. It felt as though it was struggling to stay formed as a patty, and that was before I lifted it up. All bets were off in the eating process. Each bite caused more of a mess. More than anything the experience reminded me of eating a sloppy joe in a high school cafeteria. I have never eaten a sloppy joe in a high school cafeteria, but I watched it from afar, basically in horror, so I'm sort of familiar with the concept.

While all the ingredients were delicious in and of themselves, and while the flavors blended better than sex on the beach, the overall experience was much like sex on the beach, a disappointment that ends with sand in your crotch.

If you are a burger lover, a trip to Supper is probably a necessary trip. The tastes and the experience are worth your time and the Supper burger remains a perfect example of a burger that excels on all fronts except one. For this reason we can look at it as a kind of academic experience, that of the singularly flawed burger. Where such a burger falls on your personal spectrum depends on how much sand your crotch can tolerate before you stop enjoying sex. But for me, a mouthful of mush will wipe away the memory of any good flavor. Now if you'll excuse me I have a lobster and mashed potato milkshake waiting for desert. I wouldn't want it to melt. Rating: 6/10.


At least the drinks are strong.

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