EAGLES DELI (1918 Beacon Street, Brighton, 617.731.3232) is properly a college burger, but it serves as a hometown burger for adjoining Brookline and Brighton teens. The deli has a shtick with giant stacks of half-pounders, and it maintains an “Eagles Challenge” board for the vultures who’ve eaten the most burgers and patties at a sitting. Adam Collette of Tufts was the first to be so recorded, after knocking down 3 1/2 pounds of beef and five pounds of French fries. He was then joined by BU’s Sean Reilly, with three and three. The “Reilly Burger,” served with five pounds of fries and a drink, is now listed on the menu for $25, but will only be served to one person. The third name on the list is Paul Jones, apparently an independent scholar, who once ate four pounds of beef and five pounds of French fries. For $35 you can try the same thing, along with 20 slices of cheese. The Eagles Challenge Burger ($50) stands atop the menu, with five pounds of beef, 20 slices of cheese, 20 pieces of bacon, five pounds of French fries, a fountain drink (Reilly needed three), and — don’t try this part at home — a half-sour pickle.
I had what most people have, the King-Kong Burger ($7.50), a wide-body half-pounder on a plain bun, with two slices of white processed cheese and maybe a half pound of French fries. I have to say that this is a hometown burger as I remember them, with that notable beefy flavor that came from low-grade lean beef ground in a mixture with high-grade steer belly. The plain trimmings, with ketchup and onion, delivered a classic burger experience. If I were going to eat multiple pounds of beef, this is what it should taste like. The problem is the French fries, frozen-tasting and overcooked to crisp cardboard. I’d never be able to eat Reilly-esque quantities of fries this bad. My choice of drink, iced tea, was even worse. It came from an urn handily painted “House Recipe.” In my house, we use ice.
Still, until enough time passes, this is your hometown burger.
MIRACULOUS The half-pound cheeseburger, like everything else at Miracle of Science,
B.GOOD (455 Harvard Street, Brookline, 617.232.4800) seems to have started this revivalist fad, and it’s up to four locations. We like Brookline because it looks like a hometown burger place, being a lovingly converted gas station that has its own parking. Like almost all revival burger places, it has brushed-steel chairs and a lot of shiny surfaces. Unlike any other, it has a lot of nutritional information and insists on serving your burger on a whole-wheat bun. It’s also hard to get an ordinary cheeseburger here. I eventually ordered a “Cousin Oliver” ($5.99) served with lettuce, tomato, and pickle, and added (real cheddar) cheese for 49 cents. The patty, despite a single-digit fat-gram count, is the best: char, beef, and a bit of juiciness. But it has to fight the bun and the overly flavorful trimmings. And though the fries are made from real (unfrozen) potatoes, they’re not made all that well: they aren’t greasy, but they aren’t really crisp, either. So close . . . maybe B.Good is only the double-patty option (99 cents) and some secretly reintroduced trans fats away from greatness? Typical of most burger places I really like, the grill guys aren’t native English speakers. (Russian at B.Good in Brookline; Brazilian Portuguese at Eagles Deli; Greek at Simco’s; Spanish at UBurger.)
UBURGER (636 Beacon Street, Boston, 617.536.0448) has a great pun in the name, if you get a little German; it also has the perfect location for campus greatness. But it’s opening more branches and the place already has a bit of franchised predictability creeping in. The UCheeseburger ($4.25) is attractively priced, but the meat just isn’t special, despite the soft bun (20 cents more gets you the whole-wheat bun that would ruin it completely), the yellow processed cheese, the Spanish onion, the Russian dressing, the pickle — all the right trimmings. Uburger does have fine French fries: real potato taste in the semi-skin-on, shoestring style that McDonald’s delivered at their peak in the 1970s and ’80s.