When I first committed to my ‘Noke Burger Challenge — eating a burger every day for 14 days straight, in hopes of finding the city’s best — I had one terrifying fear:
What if I ended up hating hamburgers ???
Which is why I had to laugh when I got this text from my burger-eating friend Andrew today:
See? Even the burger-lovers think I’m crazy. 😉
But it’s a fair concern.
Which is is why I started out with a couple strategies to combat coming up short. For starters, I typically only eat half a burger at once — I often catch the second half for lunch the next day — and if I can help it, I don’t eat anything on the side unless it’s a vegetable. Or, **sort of** of a vegetable … Coleslaw is a vegetable, right??
But the best strategy is the simplest: keep trying the “weird” burgers.
Which is why I ended up at Beamer’s 25 yesterday, ready to try a new iteration of hamburger that, up until now, had been beyond my ken.
That would be the Bahn Mi Burger ($8.55) – a truly different spin on the sandwich with a patty made of pork, not beef.
Now I know. I know. That sounds like sacrilege to some burger aficionados. It had seemed that way to my server yesterday, too, who shared that she’d hesitated for **two years** before mustering up the courage to try this one. Two years!!
But these days, she loves it. And now I happen to think it’s pretty great, too.
But let’s back up a few steps.
For the uninitiated, Beamer’s 25 — located on the industrial edge of downtown Roanoke, just across from the Fulton Motor Lofts — is a place a person might go for no other purpose than to get a good burger. There are nine on the menu, plus a build-your-own option. And — spoiler!! — if you go on Monday nights during dinner hours, you can get a classic cheeseburger for $5 (!!).
Inside, the restaurant is an homage to its namesake, Frank Beamer, former VT football coach. It’s also the slightly glossier version of your favorite neighborhood sports bar. Industrial lights fitted with Edison bulbs smolder at the ceiling, casting a warm golden glow over the tufted velvet booths and giant, enlarged photographs of Beamer in his football heyday.
As for those nine burgers … The turkey burger is my usual fave, with sage and garlic, avocado, fresh mozzarella and lemon aioli. Of course, if you’re got a yen for something spicy, you’d want the Southwestern — traditional, juicy beef here — with chipotle aioli, grilled red onions and sweet peppers, pickled jalepenos and pepper jack cheese. The Stevo Burger even comes topped with a fried egg.
But the Bahn Mi – now that’s a different story altogether. Here it is, posing demurely for its glamor shot:
And here it is, the way it would look if someone hung it on the wall next to all the athletic black-and-whites:
While I’ve had bigger and more thrilling burgers, this one is a definite swerve away from the ordinary, with sweet and tangy ribbons of cucumber, carrot, cilantro, pickled ginger … even a chili mayonnaise. With all those Bahn-mi flavours and garden-vegetable crunch, it’s a perfect antidote to burger boredom.
But I know what you’re *really* wondering: what’s the pork patty like? It’s a little firmer to the bite than your average medium-cooked beef patty — there are no options for doneness here, since we’re talking about ground pork — but it’s flavorful … maybe even more flavorful than your average beef:
It was good. Good enough, actually, that I broke one of my own rules and let *this* happen:
Which is kinda beautiful, if I do say so myself.
So what do *you* think … Can a burger really be a burger if it’s pork?
I’m not sure, but I’m off to catch tonight’s burger! Until then …