The Stairway to Burger Heaven is at Tweed

Burger Breakdown

Tweed - Map It!
$12.00
Hamburger with tomato, red onion and pickles; duckburger with caramelized onion and cherry chutney; lamburger with sheep's milk yogurt, dill, cucumber and an embarrassing name.
Fries or salad are included with your burger. The salad is crisp and cool. Unfortunately, so are the fries.
6.0/10

No one is saying that Tweed makes the best burger in Philadelphia. No one is saying Tweed makes an even remotely passable burger. The only thing I've heard anyone say about the three-week-old restaurant is that it has stairs.

Now, these ain't your daddy's stairs. These are brand spankin' new, polished wood and steel stairs ascending the peak of Olympus itself. The art museum is going to retrofit its facade to accommodate a replica of this work-of-art staircase. Each step taken triggers your brain to dump its reserves of dopamine. Tenzing Norgay's ashes are worked into the grain of the wood. These stairs won the Civil War, the space race and America's Next Top Model.

After first-hand experience, I can confirm that the steps do, in fact, go both ways.

Tweed's slick, minimalist interior and ambiance are a welcome addition to the no-man's land below east Market Street. Crisp white sheets and pseudo-vintage photography, combined with some music care of Miles and Ella, create a sophisticated and relaxed atmosphere. Except during Center City Sips, when the music is replaced by oontz oontz oontz oontz and they have to put newspaper on the floor in case the kids have an accident.

Hamburger at Tweed.

The Burger: Looking for the city's best burger, we generally wouldn't go to a place so new it hasn't developed a reputation, particularly one with no specific focus on hamburgers. When we saw Tweed's menu, though, we decided to make an exception. In addition to a standard hamburger topped with tomato, red onion and pickles, Tweed offers two far more interesting options: a lamburger (their spelling, not mine) with sheep's milk yogurt, dill and cucumber, and a duckburger with caramelized onion and cherry chutney. Since I have a weak spot for lamb, and we've previously established that everything is better with duck, Laurence and I were on the case. The staircase. Goddamn those are amazing stairs.

Lamburger at Tweed

Kyle: Let's get the basics out of the way first. All three burgers come on the same bun, which has the orange-brown coloration of buns you've seen in cartoons and comic books and nowhere in real life. There's a good reason this bun doesn't occur in nature: it's not very good. Which is to say, it's not good at all. Dry, crusty and bland, if I had been told the buns were sitting in the back since the restaurant first opened I wouldn't have been terribly surprised. Each order comes with the options of french fries or salad, the Burgerdelphia equivalent of cake or death, but the fries were likewise unremarkable: Lightly salted, golden shoestring fries, they were as lukewarm and undercooked as their namesakes' presidential ambitions.

We ordered all three burgers medium per the chef's recommendation, and going in order from least-awesome to least least-awesome, the beef hamburger came out extremely undercooked, dark pink and dripping like Diego Sanchez' face. Like the fries, it was warm at best and lightly salted. The beef was tender and mild, finely ground but barely flavored, tasting just slightly of garlic and salt. The butter pickles on top were the only pronounced flavor.

Not the stairs at TweedThe duck, which both Laurence and I were most excited for, was also a disappointment. While the texture was certainly fowl, the duck flavor was almost nonexistent unless you ate the patty by itself, removing the bun and garnish, and even then it was extremely faint. The cherry chutney, by contrast, was quite good and complex, with hints of cinnamon and pear underneath the tangy cherry taste.

The last burger, and the one I felt made the best showing, was the lamburger. Contrasting with the first two, this tasted very strongly of lamb, with the full-bodied flavor and pungent aroma you would expect. Both salt and cumin were pronounced in the meat, and the cucumber yogurt offered a pleasantly cooling, sweet contrast.

Much like the eponymous fabric, I want to like Tweed more than I do. The bar is stylish, the dining area comfortable, and the menu has a lot of promise. Unfortunately, the meal committed one of the few crimes we take seriously at Burgerdelphia: worse than merely being underwhelmed is being unfilled, and we left having sampled three sandwiches and still were hungry for more. Of the three burgers, I'd recommend the lamb, but if you really want something special, go for the stairs. They're spectacular. Rating: 6/10.

Duckburger at Tweed

Laurence: I have a general rule about restaurants less than a month old: don't go to them. So what could tempt me enough to break my own moral compass? I have one made-up word for you: duckburger.

I stay away from fledgling venues to give them time to settle into a routine, to let the chefs hone the dishes and to give the waitstaff time to become comfortable. It wasn't a great surprise to me that the dining experience reminded me of riding with someone in a rental car (how do you turn the headlights on!).

My favorite of the three burgers was the duck, followed by the beef and then the lamb. That's not a knock against the lamb, I just don't prefer the flavor. Overall I found the cherry-chutney/duck combination to yield the most interesting and nicely complementing flavors. The meat was cooked just right and was lightly seasoned so as not to overpower the bird. Overall I found all three burgers to use quality ingredients assembled in a totally average way.  The burgers were good but seemed like an afterthought and the fries seemed like they sent a bus boy out to the freezer aisle of Acme at the last minute. I did not find the bun as offensive as my colleague but wasn't impressed by it either. I left with less of an impression of the food than of the interior and considered stopping for yet another burger on the way home.

Tweed's ambitious multi-animal burger offering seemed like it had massive potential. And I still think it does, it just didn't deliver on that potential while we were there. I wouldn't be surprised if I start hearing good things about the burger a year from now, in which case I may consider a second visit. Rating: 6/10.

Verdict: 

I absolutely plan on going back to Tweed. And ordering something else. You should do the same.

6.0
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