Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Burger Bookends – a burger to die for and one to die from

Guest Post by Chris

Imagine, if you will, an Iron Chef-like bacon cheeseburger challenge. The ingredients: beef, cheese, onion, bacon, greens and tomatoes. The unknowing challengers: Bistro Bethem of Fredericksburg, VA and Cine Bistro of Richmond, VA. One is a good hour drive from my house and the other only 10 minutes. I will gladly drive the hour to have another burger at Bistro Bethem; the trip to Cine Bistro is not worth the gas.

Bethem’s creation was the most beautiful and greatest tasting burger EVER!!!! (and I’ve eaten QUITE a few). Their burger was made with Painted Hills Ranch all natural American Kobe beef, asiago, caramelized onions, bacon aioli, pea shoots, tomato and shoestring potatoes, all piled as high as a Jenga tower. The burger was thick, juicy and hot, the onions perfectly caramelized, the cheese not too soft and not too melted, the bun (aaah, the bun) toasted and branded on top with a “B”, nice touch. But what was a most wonderful surprise was the fresh crisp crunch of the pea shoots piled high on the burger complemented nicely by the crispy shoestring potatoes. YUM!

Words don’t exist to describe this burger. Which is why after pretty much every bite (with my mouth full) I mumbled “oh my god this is the best burger I’ve ever tasted”. By the fifth bite Davida said I either had to write a post about it or shut up. You can see how that ended.

Cine Bistro, a new take in the dining-while-watching-a-movie concept, is another story. I eagerly placed my order for their Double Feature Burger – Black Angus Beef, Smithfield bacon, cheddar cheese, red onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and special sauce. What a perfect night this was going to be – a movie, a great burger, a Red Stripe and thick cozy chairs to sink into.

Moments after our order arrived, we discovered that there is something inherently wrong with the way they run their food operation. The overcooked burger appeared to have been pre-cooked and heated up prior to being served. The special sauce was non-existent. I requested ketchup and mustard because a burger as dry as this one needed something to make it edible (and the Red Stripe alone wasn’t going to cut it). I then waited, and waited, and waited. Then I asked a different waiter. And got to wait some more. By the time the condiments finally arrived, most diners had finished their meals and my burger was cold, the bun soggy and the cheese a limp gelatinous piece of rubber. At this point not even the condiments were going to save it. It should also be noted that this burger was so bad that I don’t even remember what movie we saw that night. The burger disaster far overshadowed the film.

They were both dealt the same hands, but for a mere 3 dollars more, Bistro Bethem’s $16 burger was hands down the winner.

Overall comments about the bistros:

Bistro Bethem: Bistro Bethem has never disappointed. Their ever-changing menu is always original and when coupled with perfection of preparation and presentation, is a guaranteed palate pleaser.

Cine Bistro: I now understand why patrons must pay their tab including 17% gratuity BEFORE being served. It’s so when you realize that it’s the worst service ever you have no recourse.

CinéBistro Stony Point Fashion Park on Urbanspoon

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