One of the juiciest niches in the restaurant trade over the last several years has been the upscale fast food burger joint. Not upscale as in fancy or gourmet, but upscale in the sense that the hamburger you get is hand fashioned and of better quality than the typical fast-food chain, and it is presented in a way that tends to be a little bit nicer than waiting in line at a drive-through or at the counter of a Micky D’s.
It’s a broad niche. Five Guys and In ‘n’ Out are positioned towards the mass production end of the spectrum and Shake Shack and Umami Burger are at the high quality end, with lots of one-of-a-kind burger joints and small chains of varying merit in between. Among the worthy singles is Prime Burger, which opened in Ridgefield, Connecticut, in mid 2014, serving burgers ground from a mix of top round, short ribs, and prime sirloin. They’re good burgers, always cooked medium and therefore on the dry side of succulence, but full-flavored and pattied in such a way that they are agreeably fragile. They come plain or infused with Peter Luger steak sauce and bits of green pepper; and of course they can be gilded with all the usual condiments or with such one-dollar extras as avocado, chili, cheese, or bacon.
Fried sides include crinkle-cut French fries, sweet potato fries, waffle fries, and onion rings. What I’ve tasted seem to have been once-frozen, but of good enough quality and cooked in fresh enough oil that they come out crisp and tasty. Likewise, milk shakes on the side have a somewhat prefab flavor, but they do their job as a thick, high-calorie beverage/dessert.
Alternatives to the hamburger include a salmon burger, turkey burger, veggie burger, and grilled chicken sandwich. Nine-inch hot dogs also are available.