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Bobby Flay's Bobby's Burger Palace in West Philly

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The LA BurgerIf you’ve been paying any attention to foodie news for the past couple of months, you’ll already know that Bobby Flay has lent his cash-generating name to the Philadelphia food scene by opening up another leg of his franchise burger hut, Bobby’s Burger Palace, at 39th and Walnut. This generated a lot of buzz both in anticipation and upon opening, where folks waited over two hours to sample the fare.

My curiosity piqued, I stopped in a few times to find out if all this hub bub is worth it. Love them or loath them, celebrity chefs are the driving force of the foodie movement in this country, and their establishments rightfully set the bar for a certain expected standard.

Sad to say, Bobby’s Burger Palace falls well below said standard.

It’s really nothing more than a fast food joint. The food is prettier than anything you’ll get at Wendy’s or Burger King, but it’s still lacking personality.

That said, the food can be somewhat decent, but it really is a coin flip. Their L.A. Burger was good but dangerously undercooked, the avocado relish more an afterthought than any kind of flavor contributor. As for the Santa Fe Burger, don’t even bother. I was enticed by the thought of spicy jalepenos and queso cheese, but both are bland beyond bland. The blue corn chips, added for crunch, were soggy. Making matters worse, I asked for the burger medium well and I got an overcooked hockey puck, the char from the grill masking any of the Southwestern flavors timidly trying to make their way to the front.

The best burger I had there was the Napa Valley Burger, with goat cheese and lemon honey mustard sauce. This burger was finally cooked correctly, although the burger doesn’t come with an option (strictly medium), so that may be a product of mindless practice. The goat cheese is nice and strong without overpowering the burger or the mild honey mustard sauce.

Beyond the burgers, there are a few things I liked about Bobby’s Burger Palace. The food comes up fast. With a full house, your burger will be brought out in less than five minutes. The staff is well trained and polite, and their milkshakes are outstanding. My personal favorite was the blueberry pomegranate, which I will definitely have again. The sweet potato fries are also very good, cut just thick enough so they're not mushy. I was expecting some kind of artisan roll, the kind I normally see on “gourmet” burgers around the city (and personally detest), but Bobby’s avoids all of that, serving up patties on a traditional sesame seed bun.

Finally, a few more things to be aware of. Their seat-yourself policy is nice in small numbers, but come with a group of four or more and finding a place where you can all sit together will prove challenging. Now that school’s out, it may not be an issue, but as Bobby’s borders Penn’s campus, come autumn the place ought to be a zoo again.

Final assessment: If you’re in the neighborhood, stop in and give it a try. But if you see a line, keep walking. Five minutes was almost too long a wait for the result.

Address: 

West Philly

3925 Walnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

Tel: 215.387.0378 | Fax: 215.387.0401

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