Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Abbey, Washington Square, Brookline

Let's discuss, for just a moment, the hamburger.  This iconic dish, in it's basest form, is a sandwich, plain and simple.  A bun, or two pieces of bread baked with a bit more refinement, encase a filling, in this case ground beef, and, perhaps, an assortment of toppings.  It is eaten with ones hands (or it's meant to be); it is the simplest of foods.  However, the hamburger has catapulted far beyond its simplistic form and now stands as the pinnacle of sandwiches. They are craved by the masses like no other, they are the symbol of summer cooking (well along with those devilish hot dogs) and they have been far mimicked the world over.  Variations and versions are offered for seemingly every palate, every cuisine and every diet.  Rare and exotic toppings are paired now with these ground beef discs, truffles to foie gras gracing the plate.  The very core has been manipulated-Turkey to Soy to Veggie to Seafood-all of these have been shaped and prodded until they resemble those meaty patties and sandwiched between that carb heavy holder.  It isn't often I indulge in a real beef burger.  More often than not I mimic the idea with a turkey burger, or a veggie burger, however every so often I break down and sink my teeth into a classic burger.  Let me tell you though, when I do order a burger, on those rare occasions, it had darn better be a fantastic burger!

Last evening I headed out to what has become one of my favorite spots for dinner in the Brookline area- The Abbey.  Since they opened last year I have had countless delicious meals there.  I have covered their menu, from seafood to chicken, pork belly to mussels and have enjoyed, with much excitement, every single bite.  During that time I have watched hamburgers float from the kitchen and then devoured by the waiting recipient.  I would guess that, while I watch these diners enjoy their sandwiches, that I mimic closely a small child, nose pressed against a shop window, longing for a doll set on display.  Last night, I broke down.  I gave up the charade and indulged in the Hamburger at The Abbey.

The burger doesn't get much fan fare at The Abbey.  It isn't listed as anything special-a simple note "8 oz. burger topped with Swiss, bleu or cheddar cheese, hand-cut French fries" completes its menu listing.  There are no touts of rare meats, no fanfare for extreme toppings, no secret handshake needed to order this dish.  Isn't that the way it should be though?  The burger is an American Classic- served in nearly every back yard, isn't the pure integrity of this dish enough?

I ordered my burger medium rare, and requested blue cheese as my topping.  I was served a hot, juicy burger, cooked to a perfect medium rare, on a thick buttery bun, with a smattering of crumbled blue cheese and the traditional accompaniments of pickles, red onion, tomato and lettuce.  The beef was pure, full of natural flavor with a simple hint of salt.  Far too often I find that burgers are loaded down with salt- an experience ruin er for me.  Just enough blue cheese had been sprinkled on top and allowed to melt to lend wonderful pungent flavor without overpowering the rest of the dish, and the pickles, glorious in their vinegar flavor, perfectly offset the dense flavor of the cheese. The onion (red is my personal favorite), tomato and lettuce lent variations of texture to the meal as well as lending that almost intangible idea of "freshness" to the otherwise heavy food.  The fries, though the burger filled me up so that I didn't eat many, were hot, salty, and crispy- exactly the way they should be.   

This was a good burger- it was the kind of burger that I will crave when I simply want a "hamburger".  It embodied everything about the classic dish that I want-a thick patty, cooked with finesse, simply topped, but with enough thought that every flavor was pre thought.  It was elegant in it's nature, and delicious to the palate.

There is, of course, no question if I will return to The Abbey- of course I will.  However now, the question is, will The Abbey be my go to place when a real hamburger is what I need?  I think it might just be.     

4 comments:

Daisy said...

I really like The Abbey, too! Sounds like I need to get back and order the burger.

Jen said...

We LOVE the Abbey. Have you tried the Skinny Gingerman? SO GOOD. This burger sounds fantastic. Hubby has had it and enjoyed it as well. You definitely have me craving a burger at this point...

kitchenmisfit said...

I'm a big fan of the Abbey. Hubs and I took our mother's there for mother's day and it was delicious!

Lin @ BeantownEats said...

The Abbey is great! I loved their mussels and fries. Might have to try the burger next time!

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