Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Burger Review: The Farm Burger

There are two — no, three —  reasons why I really want to dislike Farm Burger, a Georgia-based chain, fast-casual that just moved into the new Hill Center Sylvan Heights development. One of them isn't even of their doing, so I'll cover that first: bad design.

How is it that H.G. Hill was able to mimic an urban environment in the Belle Meade and Green Hills Hill Centers, allowing for on-street parking in front of several shops, but when it came to an actual, honest-to-goodness urban environment, the closest one can get to the entrance demands a walk of half a block or more? That's even with parking provided. There is no back door for the public to enter from the large parking lot in the rear of the development, nor side door to cut into. You have to walk all the way around to the front and center of the building, which houses some three-four options. Why is it a problem? Ask anyone recovering from a recent ankle sprain, foot/leg injury, or otherwise handicapped. Another minor annoyance that will be a greater annoyance when it gets cold out: no vestibule. When that door swings out to Charlotte Pike traffic, 3/4 of the room can feel it.

Number two: Nashville eaters are grown up now, and compared to most of the Southeast, we're already well-educated about organics, slow food, and the farm-to-table movement. So when you base your marketing strategy on presenting yourself as a stand-out because you're serving up grass-fed, organically-raised livestock, like no one in the world ever thought about it until you opened up your lumbersexual-staffed joint ... as the saying goes, your panty lines are showing.

Three: a little on the nickel and dimey side .. but that's avoidable and I'll get to the detail later.

All that said, here's why I can't dislike Farm Burger: Strip away everything, and you've got one really, really good, fresh, beefy burger in your hand. 

On my first visit, I used the lunch special to 'build a burger' and took the bartender's advice to get their special "FB sauce," which turned out to be a flavorless, runny, mayo affair. 

I also thought the flavorings on their french fries — a mix of garlic and other herbs — was surprisingly bland, considering how much of it was laid on. Lastly, I was suspicious about the $2 slice of VT white cheddar cheese. At that price point, it looked awfully thin. But underneath it all, the burger seemed pretty good, so I wanted to give Farm Burger a second chance. I'm glad I did. Second time around I got pimento cheese fries. Again, as you can see from the pics, they were a little stingy with the cheese, burger and fries, both. Few pimentos. Many jalapeños. But they did have a lot more flavor this time.

More on the build-a-burger: it starts at a reasonable $6.75, but the add ons .. add on. Standard iceburg lettuce/tomato/low ranking condiments are all free; orange cheddar (show me a cow that gives orange milk, please) and condiment with some fuss will add $1; real cheddar, gouda and other fussier items come in at $2 a pop. So it's really your choice: you can stay minimal and have an organic, grass-fed cheeseburger come in under $10, or you can spend $20 or more and make a big deal of things. To the points:

Attractiveness: 7. The overall presentation with the fries in the same basket and all is lovely, but I was afraid to pick it up and make a mess of everything.

Flavor: 10. Oh, my! This is a real burger-burger. For a chain, that's just unheard of.

Juiciness: 6. This is a burger that's not going to make too much of a mess, in spite of my fears.

Digestivity: 10. Although I can reminisce about the flavor, I'm not actually tasting it four hours later

Atmosphere: Eh .... 5.

Overall: 6 +

Farm Burger does have a really good burger, one that in Nashville, ranks right up there with Burger Up and Brown's. If they can get a little less stingy with the cheese, turn the oh-wow marketing down, and add a back door, I'd be raving about them.

Farm Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato