Sometimes an Ugly Duckling will Never be a Swann Lounge
The Four Seasons's more casual dining option is the Swann Lounge. The elegant bar is a great way to get a sampling of The Four Seasons kitchen and service without the fuss of planning a trip to the formal dining room. It's still a bar in a hotel so it's not uncommon to see some open laptops and business calls mixed with the martinis and whiskeys, but the music is swanky, the lighting is dim, the drinks are strong and the staff is attentive. We were intrigued to see a burger on the menu and that brought us over late one night. Seeing a burger served at the Four Seasons is a bit like seeing a burger served at Le Bec-Fin. Apparently we never learn our lessons.
The Burger: You know it's the Four Seasons when a burger sets you back Andrew Jackson. That's right kids, the Café Burger will set you back $21.00. It's topped with Applewood-smoked bacon, aged cheddar, caramelized onions, and herbed rémoulade. I didn't see the gold or platinum flakes but I assumed they were there considering the price.
Laurence: I love this job*. We get to be assholes in so many great places. From, the 19th floor of The Hyatt, to the subterranean bar of Le Bec-Fin, to the linen tablecloths of Fare, we gladly take pull out the tripod, camera, and notebooks at the city's classiest establishments and smile while we're doing it. You can imagine my glee to have the chance to accomplish yet another feat of utter jerkdom at a restaurant that most Philadelphians think should be pulling three stars from a tire manufacturer.
Despite my desire to be an ass I have to say the Swann Lounge burger is pretty good. It's significantly better than the fleshwad Le Bec-Fin was serving. The quality of the ingredients is undeniable. The meat particularly was a stand out. With perfect sear marks, juicy interior, subtle spicing, and excellent texture.
The bacon was less remarkable. It did not meet the outrageous expectations I had lain on the Four Seasons' chefs. There is some amazing bacon in the city so the bar is high in this department and the bacon served at Swann Lounge is far below the top. It might be in the top 10 but even that is a stretch. It's fine bacon. High quality, smokey, salty and well marbled, but it just doesn't make the final cut.
The rémoulade had a bright flavor and a pleasant zip, but it was overabundant and started to drown out some of the other flavors. The bun too was very good, and while slightly toasted just lacked a few little flourishes that I had hoped to see. A slight browning in butter makes a brioche roll into a wonder of nature and science. This one was just dryly toasted. How dull.
But far worse than dull were the fries that had the appearance (and most of the taste) of those found in the bottom of any fast food bag. This seems to be a theme with nice restaurants and bad fries. I don't understand it. Good fries exist and when they do they're never the color of Big Bird.
As sure as I'm a snob the burger at Swann Lounge is good but it's not up to our snobby standards and especially not at the price. Rating: 7/10.
*This is a job in a very loose sense. People make money at jobs. We lose money on Burgerdelphia, especially when we go places like this.
Kyle:* The first thing I noticed about the burger at Swann Lounge, aside from the price, were the french fries: they were nearly identical to the french fries at Le Bec-Fin. Only two possible explanations: fancy restaurants hate french fries, or George Perrier is Ray Kroc reincarnate.
When you’re paying over $20 for what is essentially just a sandwich, it’s nearly impossible to not be disappointed to a degree. And barring those situations where a restaurant exceeds the simplicity of meat on bread (Village), every burger over $16 has been a letdown. In this regard Swann Lounge does not disappoint. Which is to say it disappoints. cwutididthar?
Will you be unhappy eating this meal? Probably not. The beef, while plain, is lean and moist. The bacon is highly smoky with a strong pork bite, while the sharp cheese is actually a bit of a letdown. I wrote “Mildly sharp cheddar” in my notes, followed by “Mildly sharp shut up that’s a stupid sentence,” so there you go. The brioche was good, but nothing we haven’t had literally 50 times before at least, but the caramelized onions were top notch. The herbed remoulade, meanwhile, is extremely herb-flavored. Like, pot herb. It’s interesting if a bit too strong, and I still don’t know if I think that’s good or bad.
Swann Lounge offers nothing new for a premium price. It’s not bad, which for $21, is pretty bad. It will fulfill all of your needs without doing a single thing noteworthy. Kind of like this review. Rating: 6/10.
*Editor’s note: this article was written under the influence of not giving a shit.
You might like the burger at Swann Lounge but then again you might also like being whipped with a rubber ball in your mouth. I'm not going to tell you what to like. I will tell you the burger is decent but overpriced and better burgers will set you back fewer dollars if you're willing to leave the confines of your snotty hotel.