Back In Burgers: Wherever We May Roam
So, what have you guys been up to?
I know, I know…it’s been a while. But when your foster brother is killed in an underground karate tournament, you do what you have to do. Sometimes it means going AWOL and entering yourself into that very same tournament, and other times it means ignoring your blog about hamburgers to go try to bribe some Chinese guys to lay under a car and break the guy’s legs. You know - the classy way.
Seriously, though - your friendly (and humble!) burger blog writer has had a poo-storm of diarrhiffic proportions going on lately. Ever have one of those months? Where it seems like you’re at a party in formal gear and everybody else is in Ed Hardy clothes and talking about how totally rad trust funds are? Plus, all they have to drink is that “Sweet Tea” vodka, which is really just a wine cooler without the instructions for statutory rape on the packaging? That’s been my life for the past little while.
To put it another way, if blogging were like playing the Blues, yours truly would be the oldest, fattest, blackest man alive. My name would be something like Ernest Higgins Brown and my album would include songs like:
1. Ain’t No Sunshine, Even When She’s Gone
2. Lawdy, Lawdy, I’m in UB40
3. They determined to make this stone bleed
4. My cheatin’ heart decided to attack me
5. Sleepin’ with hemorrhoids on the floor in jail is for youngsters
…and so on, and so forth. It’s been one thing after another. So while I truly love each and every one of you, I haven’t been able to dedicate myself to this like I usually do. But not to fear…we’re coming back strong, and I even have a gift for you.
No, the gift is not this t-shirt. I snapped this shot during an impromptu emergency trip back to the Midwest (part of the ongoing travails of my absence) while on a layover at the lovely Cincinnati airport. Clearly, Paris ain’t got nothin’ on Cinci - why, I even had time to visit their delightful food court!
And what would a trip to Cincinnati be without some of their namesake chili? If you’ve never had it, here’s how you make it.
Step one: boil up one pound of generic spaghetti. The Cheaper, the better.
Step two: coat the boiled spaghetti in as much meaty, bean-riffic chili as you can get to stay on the plate.
Step three: Every meal needs a dash of color; add gigantic handfuls of generic, neon-colored cheddar cheese to the top of the heaping mass you have created in defiance of God’s Law.
Step four: if you’re lucky enough to be in an airport food court located right next to the World’s Last Indoor Smoking Lounge, begin pushing large forkfuls of spaghetti, chili and cheese into your face as 98-year-old businessmen suck down Pall Malls before their flight to Tampa.
Step five: now that your belly is full of carbohydrates, meat, beans and cheese, go to your gate and wait for your flight. You’re in the middle seat, and you’re about to make dreams come true for two lucky individuals.
In reality, I had Chik-Fil-A.
And that still caused plenty of gastro-delights. In fact, just about anytime I travel away from San Francisco, it only takes about a week before I start missing the cuisine. While I may have grown up in the Midwest, “Home of the Cheese and Gravy Food Groups,” you really can’t go wrong with the tasty goodness available in this fine, fair city.
And it was with that notion that our entire gang of burgerventurers loaded up the BurgerMobile (it’s like the Batmobile, but it’s sweatier and has a gym membership it doesn’t use enough) and made our way to the Cow Hollow neighborhood to try out a relatively new - but already acclaimed - member of the SF Burger scene.
Roam Artisan Burgers opened up earlier this year, and had been suggested by our own Joe as a review spot not long afterwards…but, having been raised to distrust Italians and thwart them at every turn, I merely laughed in his face. However, over time the buzz continued to grow and Roam would not be denied. Somewhere, my great-grandfather who lost an eye to an Italian cocktail waitress is spinning in his grave.
Roam is immediately welcoming, with nice warm colors inside, a nice contrast to the hateful clown-orgy palette some burger restaurants seem to prefer. They also have the occasional artistic twist, such as the jars as light fixtures. Please never ask me how long it took to line up this shot.
Another note about Roam: they don’t use high-fructose corn syrup in ANYTHING. In terms of burger restaurant comparisons, that’s almost like Elvis not doing quaaludes, UFC not being homoerotic or any of the women on a “Real Housewives…” show not having enough plastic surgery to resemble the Joker. But Roam has the high-falutin’ idea of making burgers and fries that won’t kill you…a noble idea, indeed, and one we’re willing to get behind if it means getting to see what the year 2020 is like.
Roam employs one of our favorite lunch-style ordering systems - you order and pay at the counter, get a number and grab a seat. Your food comes out lickity-split, or at least it seemed that way with all the licking going on at our table. They have their menu on the wall at the entrance (as the beautiful Joe is pointing out) and it’s not bad. A decent selection of specialty burgers, and if you’re one of those precious, hipster-y snowflakes who wants to define your identity through your purchases, you can also create your own from their list of ingredients. By the way, nice scarf in 90-degree weather!
Before we go too much further, time for the gift. Because we love you, your friendly neighborhood burger bloggers are now going to be offering you the chance to buy some half-off vouchers from the places we review! If you’re using an iPhone, iPad, Android device or a Blackberry Torch, simply click right here! and you can purchase a voucher that will cut the cost of your burger trip down significantly. Then, take the confirmation into the joint via your mobile device and woila! You just got fatter for less cash! Truly, we live in an amazing age. Big thanks to our new compatriot Mobile Spinach for hooking this up, and I hope you all enjoy it! I’ll keep you posted if more platforms are coming up, but we’re planning on giving this a whirl for a while. It’s like “Logan’s Run,” only with burgers, and instead of dying at the age of 30 you just start taking cholesterol pills.
But enough with all the bargains - time to get our burger on. The gang’s all here, so let’s get down to business.
As per our usual highly-scientific, ultra-organized process, we all picked whatever we wanted without much concern for anything else. This haphazard method has launched us into the stratosphere of burger fame already, so why mess with it? Although Chris got a salad, and we had once sworn that any veggies not on a burger must be deep fried in buttermilk, but we all get soft with age. At least, those of us eating burgers constantly are.
George got his usual Old Man Special - regular burger, medium, with a side of fries. Roam does all their patties as a 1/4 lb. standard, and you can double up the patties for a little upcharge. They also offer a variety of meats, like turkey or bison, or (shudder) a veggie burger, if you hate things like America, freedom and the laughter of toddlers.
James did us proud by ordering the Tejano, then Tejano’ed all over the place by doubling it. The Tejano is like a Mariachi band marching into your colon with their guitars and instead of gentle, soothing melodies, they suddenly rip into “Freebird.” Pepperjack cheese, Jalapeno relish and white corn strips make this the perfect companion when you have no plans with other companions for the rest of the day. Just seeing that picture makes me want to do a hat dance while firing pistolas in the air. Maybe I learned too much about Spanish culture from Looney Tunes.
He even kept his white shirt clean. He may look like Mr. Rogers, but James is gangsta.
Chris danced with destiny by ordering the French and Fries burger. Truly, an ooh-la-la for the ages: truffle parmesan french fries (yes, ON the burger), avocado, gruyere cheese and some dijon mustard for good measure. It marched casually down his throat, disdainfully smoked a cigarette while looking fashionable and then artfully found its way into his colon.
Leila, occasionally being Queen Pickypants of Pickytown, went off the reservation and came up with her own creation: steak sauce, onion, lettuce, pickles and a healthy slice of the gruyere cheese. She may be picky, but the girl knows what she likes.
Joe, aka Captain Enthusiasm, ordered a Roam Classic but added some Jalapeno Relish and some pepperjack cheese. He likes his burgers like he likes his ladies: spicy with a smooth finish. If I ever figure out what that means, I’ll let you know. I think it has something to do with Budweiser beer and a trip to East St. Louis, but I have no idea.
Because I rule, yours truly ordered up the Sunny Side burger. Topped with an organic, free-range egg, aged white cheddar, caramelized onions, some greens (okay, fine), tomato and sweet chili sauce. There’s nothing better than a burger that can wake you up, then put you back down in one fell swoop. I also ordered the zucchini onion haystack as a side. And I got an e-mail from somebody about always ordering the burger that comes with an egg: it’s my party, and I’ll die at 60 if I want to. Unfortunately, egg on a burger has become my fat-guy version of chasing the dragon.
And Marci ordered the classic, but with some avocado on top. All of Roam’s burgers come standard with lettuce, tomato, onion and house-made pickles, and they’re also all served on a specially-made Pacific Coast Bakery bun.
From the first bites we were all pretty blown away. The quality of the meat is pretty great, and Roam did not disappoint in their other offerings.
Hands On The Counter And Spread ‘Em: Meat Quality - Roam uses Pacific Pastures 100% Grass-Fed beef for all their burgers, so they’re getting their stuff locally. And as we’ve learned in the past, a happy cow is a delicious cow, so Roam’s cows must have driven Ferraris, done cocaine with Charlie Sheen and avoided ever seeing “The View,” because these things are darn tasty.
They don’t grind their meat in-house, but they get it fresh daily and they do make the patties by hand every day. It didn’t take long before members of the crew started voicing their opinions. George said it was already one of his favorite burgers. James said it was in his top 3. And Chris reminded us about his belief of White Power Forever, but he may have just had low blood sugar.
Roam is producing a really good burger for a really low price, and that’s something we can all get behind.
Takin’ You Downtown: Final Meat Score - a resounding 99 hoof prints out of 106.
Sides, Sides, Everywhere the Sides: Carb Score - Roam produces their sides in a good companion size for a burger, so you’ll want one for every person, unless you’re a group of size-0 yoga moms out being naughty for lunch. Roam offers Russet potato fries, Sweet Potato Fries, a Zucchini Onion Haystack and, in a feat of perfect naming, the “Fry-Fecta,” in which they take a combination of all three of the above, sprinkle it with dew and make all your dreams come true.
And if sweet, delicious carbowonderfulness isn’t enough, Roam goes the extra mile - how about adding some custom seasoning to your side as well? For the same price the bum outside my building keeps telling me he needs for chicken livers at the deli (50 cents) you can get your fries coated in Truffle Parmesan, Lemon Chive or, awesomest of all, Chipotle Maple. It’s like your fries ran through a forest, then got sprinkled with hot sauce. God Bless Us, Everyone. If you’re ever wondering if mankind is gonna make it, remember that somebody somewhere is putting a maple glaze on french fries, and know we’re gonna be all right.
All of the sides are darn tasty, and the extra flavors help even more. The Russet fries were a crowd pleaser, the Sweet Potato fries were enjoyed by all and nobody had any complaints about the haystack, which was probably the least-favorite of the three.
Can’t You Read The Sides - Final Carb Score: a healthy 43 sweaty fat guys out of 56.
Shortly after we all finished, King Schmooze of North Beach, the honorable George, began chatting up the owners of Roam, and before we know it desserts began arriving. None of us had ordered Roam’s specialty shakes, and they felt - rightfully so, I think - that we ought to sample them. To all future review locations: we will not judge you if you also make with the free goodies.
Roam brought us out a Salted Caramel shake and a Blue Bottle Coffee shake, both with bruleed marshmallows. At this point most of us were starting to get full, and we began by all doing that routine where you pretend you have dignity and you wait for others to try it, then you just try a small spoonful…within a matter of seconds we all dove in. It was despicably delicious. The shakes get a good recommendation as well.
And our final, ground-breaking category…Comin’ Down The Pipe: What Happens Afterward
Once again, the power of good meat comes through. Because Roam sticks with the 1/4 lb. as their normal burger, and because the meat got to have dreams and hopes, you can power down one of their burgers at lunch with pride and the knowledge that you won’t have to “make a phone call” to excuse yourself from a meeting in two hours. Everybody had a pleasant tummy-aftermath, and Roam managed to come through our historic test with flying colors.
From The Insides: Final Aftermath Score - 44 meat sweats out of 45.
Roam is making some high-quality, low-cost burgers, and their variety is pretty great too. Not to mention, they don’t use the high-fructose corn syrup, which gives you another way to feel good about yourself for eating there at least four times a week.
In other words, Roam is getting a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us. Go try it!
And hey - don’t forget, if you’re using an iPhone, iPad, Android device or a Blackberry Torch, you can even click here and get a voucher to cut the cost even more. Don’t say we never gave you anything!
Once again, my apologies for the delays. But we’ll get ourselves back on track and back to doing the Lord’s work - ensuring you have plenty of content to look at to distract you from being productive while reading about hamburgers.
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Thanks again! See you soon…we promise!