Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Bird 'Ghetto on a Good Day' Burger - 19/25

The Bird in Jackson's 'Ghetto on a Good Day' 9oz burger

The more places I see, the more it reinforces how incredibly important personality becomes in a restaurant. Branded chains drown under a wave of greying conformity, no matter how brightly coloured their arches. Mom & Pop places should have personality oozing given their independence and owner/operator control, but too often they make no statement at all and end up just as grey and forgettable as the generica.

In any endeavour where you want to have people take away positive memories and experiences , you can't do that unless somebody somewhere in the organisation puts a big old stake in the ground and says This is what we are about. It doesn't have to be complex (it's usually better not) or be grand, but as long as you have something concrete to hang your business, band or restaurant off that's what matters and it's what will lift you out of the murky depths of average.

The Bird had it in spades for me. It's an idiosyncratic pub just South of Jackson, Wyoming. Opened in 2010 by two New Yorkers via Berlin it's become the #1 Restaurant on Tripadvisor in Jackson (all this I found out after the fact as I was tipped off by some locals from my namesake town earlier in the day when I enquired 'who makes the best burgers around here' and got told, "Hands down, The Bird").

The Bird had good signs written all over it from the start. It's a few miles away from the main tourist drag and you have to know it's there to find it, with the entrance hidden away in the corner of a car park, so there's a good sense of discovery. A Characterful menu, handwritten statements of beer intent and pool forfeits on the walls, friendly owners/staff/regulars I couldn't tell apart; from the get go it had that elusive personality thing going on.

And as soon as I read the opening lines from the menu:

Mostly named for the people who love(d) them.
Our burgers are ground fresh in-house, served with hand-cut fries, lettuce, tomato, red onion and a pickle. available in ¼ lb or 9 oz varieties.

I got a feeling that this was going to be special.

And so it proved.

Finally a burger joint that nails fries. Genuinely hand-cut with a knife, by a human, not a chopping tool, they were pleasingly random shapes. Skin on, golden, hot, crispy, fluffy, potatoey The Bird's fries are as good as it gets. New Benchmark.

The 9oz burger was screaming made and cooked with the singled minded obsession that the menu was a mission statement for. Thick, chunky random shape it was properly pink, juicy, tender and had great flavour. If I'm nit picking (and we're talking fractions off perfection here anyway), my personal taste would be a smidge more char on the outside to really offset the tender centre. Finished off with good crisp bacon and just cut fresh lettuce, tomato and onion on the side, this was a serious handful of burger love.

The bun was an English muffin and a pretty good choice as it's slightly tougher than you average softee bun so coped well with all the juice action from that awesome chunk of beef. It went the distance and was just big enough.

And so we score; remember, 0 is for not present, 1 is merely functional, 2 is adequate, 3 is good, 4 is really good and 5 is OMG-can't-talk-eating.

KBI-1 : Quality of Burger

5 / 5

(Beefiness, quality of cooking, not getting lost in the extras)

KBI-2 : Distinguishing Features

3 / 5

(i.e. The 'headline' variation e.g. Bacon, Chilli, BBQ)

KBI-3 : Ability of Bun to Maintain Order

4 / 5

(size, freshness, flavour, keeping it all together)

KBI-4 : Condiment Enhancement

3 / 5

(variety, suitability of extras)

KBI-5 : Fries Counterpoint

5 / 5

(portion size, crispness, potato-ey ness)

KBI-6 : Other Supporting Actors


(quality of side orders)

Total Score


The Bird on Urbanspoon

So The Bird proudly flips it's way into joint 1st place with Fish & Farm, edging out Ford's Real Hamburgers. I reckon that Fish & Farm could slip up now and then, working as they are from a hotel kitchen as part of a bigger business. On the day I was there, everything came good, but could they pull that off day in day out?

Where I think The Bird would school them is, on any given day, these guys own the pub burger out of love. This is what they are about.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you found some 5/5s! NICE looking fries...hmm..