Sympathy for the Devil's Alley
There are unspoken rules Laurence and I abide by as part of this little thing called Burgerdelphia:
- If a restaurant puts its name on a burger, you have to get it.
- You have to eat everything.
That's it. Try to keep them straight.
Devil's Alley sits on the strip of Chestnut that time forgot. I had avoided going to Devil's Alley since we started our burger quest because I thought I'd been there before, but walking into the unfamiliar smokehouse-and-'50s-greaser pastiche of a bar, I felt strangely at home. Seeing the words "The Devil's Burger" and knowing my decisions had been made for me only added to my comfort. Everything was coming up Millhouse.
Then Laurence told the waiter "I'll have the guacamole burger" and I knew I had died and gone to hell.
The Burger: The abomination called The Devil's Burger is a thick 8 oz. sirloin patty topped with onion rings and french fries, and is accompanied by a side of "cheese sauce." As if that weren't enough, I threw on some bleu cheese since I was already dead. The guacamole burger is made from the tears of Judas that escaped one of Lucifer's mouths as he beats his great wings against the icy forever and guacamole.
Kyle: I have put some questionable things in my mouth and known regret. The Devil's Burger is not my greatest mistake, but looking at the 7" thick rack of fried bad life choices, it may have been my gravest. It looks like something you'd see on the Man vs. Food outtakes, on the episode they couldn't air because everyone on it died.
After several long minutes pondering how exactly to eat it, I dunked one side into the cheese sauce, unhinged my jaw and danced into the fire. And it wasn't bad.
First off, the sirloin patty is far better than you'd expect at what is, essentially, a neighborhood joint. Some may disagree that sirloin is always a superior choice for a patty, and they would be fuckers, and not the good kind. Devil's Alley's meat was lean, tender and finely ground, cooked perfectly and with a nice salt and pepper seasoning.
The toppings on the sandwich are also better than you'd imagine on a gimmick burger. Onion rings are hard to screw up, and these are largely what you'd expect. The thick fries are also decent and plentiful, although they were unseasoned which is not a decision I would have made. Then again, I made the decision to eat this thing so what the shit do I know.
Simultaneously the low and high point, the cheese sauce is mild, salty and made me think of Velveta. It wasn't good cheese, but it was good in that "I only read Twilight so I can make fun of it" way, and added a mild tang and much needed moisture to the dry bun. On first taste I thought the dip was bad, but I found myself going back with each bite. The only truly "bad" part was the bleu cheese, which was actually good. Pungent and sharp, it was nevertheless lost under the other ingredients.
Still, nothing quite jives on this burger. The components range from good to very good, but there's no composition. As said above, it is clearly a gimmick burger, and that is usually a sign that the kitchen has given up. But that doesn't need to be the case here. Devil's Alley's food is good, and I'd wager the chef is capable of making a burger that could break out of average. Maybe this is his hell, using his talents to create monsters. Or maybe I'm wearing this metaphor too thin.
I'd recommend Devil's Alley, and at some point I'd like to return and try something a little more serious. But the Devil's Burger is not a burger you can take seriously, and with one bite left I put it down. Not because I was full, or dying, but because I had already written the intro to this article in my head and I'll be damned if I'm going to break continuity. Rating: 7/10.
Laurence: There are two things I love. Devil worship and burgers. So this would make Devil's Alley seem a perfect venue for my hybrid tastes. Sadly there's very little satanic about Devil's Alley aside for the bathroom which is nearing the state of the original Khyber or that of nearby Raven Lounge for unpleasantness. Our waitress from the dark side was fairly chipper though overworked and constantly leaving us waiting around but I can't really hold that against the burger.
As Kyle mentioned I broke our age-old pact and ordered a burger not named after the restaurant. Instead I went for a bacon and avocado burger. I did this because I was feeling the devil calling to me. That and I figured eating a tortured pig was more evil than eating a fried onion. When in Rome...
I felt Devil's Alley needed to be on our list after I walked by one night early this summer and saw some patrons enjoying fat burgers on glistening brioche buns. So now months later we find ourselves eating this same burger. It did not live up to the hype I had build for it in my own mind. But it wasn't bad.
The sirloin patty is a creation made by the devil himself to tempt the hearts of men. Savory and pepper spiced, it is everything you hope for when getting a burger at a neighborhood bar. That's not a crack against the burger because in all honesty no one is coming to Philadelphia to eat a burger at Devil's Alley. Village Whiskey, perhaps, Pub and Kitchen, maybe, Rouge, could happen, but Devil's Alley, not a chance. And that's fine. The devil looks after his own. Given that this is not a burger worthy of renown, it still is a fine meal. Mine was a tad beyond the medium well I had asked for but this wasn't a criminal offense in my mind.
It would have been a fine burger with nothing else on it but was really made by the fresh fatty guacamole topping it. The avocado gave hints of freshness to the meal while keeping it savory. It had a strong tangy flavor and was heavy on garlic. It was damn good guacamole.
The only fault I found with the burger was the bacon, which was on the thin and fatty side. I have become somewhat fickle about my bacon. There was a time when any bacon would do. Thin, undercooked, fatty strips from lunch trucks would not cause a moment of hesitation a few years ago. People change. Actually it's more fair to say that food poisoning changes people.
The bacon on my burger wasn't great but it wasn't a show stopper. It was fairly standard, lightly smokey, salty pork.
The brioche lived up to the hopes I had when I first saw it all those months ago. Sweet, fluffy and buttery, it contains the secret of why American's are fat. No, it has nothing to do with calories or lack of exercise or even poor diet. Americans are fat because, like the brioche, the devil made them that way. Rating: 7/10.
Devil's Alley resides in that wave of "meh" restaurants crashing over the city these days, but it is at least near the top of that wave. Hail Satan.