There are things we do that often defy all fashionable logic and cater to our gluttonous sin seeking ways.
Abraham Lincoln once said, show me a man that has no vices and I’ll show you a man that has no virtues. And so, it is with this presidential idea planted firmly in mind that we now delve into the virtue of the vice of eating hamburgers. But, not just any hamburgers. These are not your run-of-the-mill White Castle or Krystal burger sliders mass produced through low quality means in ridiculous conditions. I’m talking about the hamburgers of mythic proportion and legendary repute, old fashion handcrafted burgers made with unconditional love and over 1.5 lbs of pure beefy goodness.
It is just too much too soon and wrong in every way.
There are plenty of other savory sensations to be had at this time of meal. Someone is always running salmon on a lunch menu, pasta or pho. And, it’s never too early for foie gras and funnel cake. However, today, all of it and I mean all of it will have to wait on the proverbial back-burner as I save room for, Colonel Mustard’s Phat Burger Challenge.
I do take unabashed delight in a sinfully thick and juicy hamburger. It is, after all, the quintessential American comfort food spelled out in the simplest way possible. The thought alone conjures up memories of lighting charcoal and mom’s ridiculously delicious caramelized onions. I prefer the butcher blend 70/30 chuck to navel run twice at medium grind. This is my all time go-to for the simple reason that it absolutely owns the flavor department. Dry age that chuck before the 70/30 grind to put those enzymes to work and be prepared to welcome vikings to dinner. Yeah, it’s that good. If I’m cooking burgers, I’m only working with a 70/30 proprietary blend of beefy decadence.
I keep my hamburger game strong.
But, what of that mission I set out to accomplish? Somewhere lurking in the greater Jacksonville lunch food abyss is a hamburger of mythic proportions that awaits this weary food driven soul. To slay this beast is no ordinary feat and to be reasonable, I needed to train or at the very least, test to make sure I had it in me to complete the challenge.
The Col. Mustard challenge consists of eating a giant burger that has three patties (each weighing in at over a half pound) in under 15 minutes. For the trial run, I stacked six double cheese burgers. The patties shown in the above photo are an anemic 1/4 pound each. It took TWELVE of them to equal the same amount of meat found in one Col. Mustard Phat Burger.
Second thoughts, a moment hesitation and absolute terror coursing through my soon to be clogged veins was not enough to stop the certain madness that would ensue. I started to chew like a crazed bat out of Dante’s Inferno. Patty by patty, bit by over cooked bit, it all went down a quickly expanding gullet. To my amusement, the burger, in all of its 12 part harmony glory, went down like butter on cast iron. I made it through the trial run with a respectable time.
Unfortunately, it’s more the norm to find burgers cooked from 80/20 ground beef.
If you dare the rare, a low fat ratio will work in your favor as there is less render down time during the cooking process. However, I always request that the meaty morsel be cooked to a juicy medium. Whenever things go south and I discover that my patty is over cooked, you will see me instinctively prepare a soy sauce / mayonnaise blend to conceal the crime committed.
The restaurant burger is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. According to their ad, you get 98%.
I arrived at Colonel Mustard’s Baymeadows location and could not have timed things better. When I opened the door, I saw a friendly face behind the counter and suspiciously quiet dining room. The air was calm and not yet defiled by the all too common feeding frenzied lunch crowd. “I’m here to take the challenge”, I said, in a manner of tone that I can only describe as a cross between making a statement and asking a question. I was handed a menu to choose my toppings and went with the standard lettuce, tomato, pickle.. hold the mayonnaise.
When the kind server arrived with the burger, she made certain to take my photo. This document is saved for posting to the restaurant wall in the event that I am able to eat the whole thing in 15 minutes. I thought to myself, am I really doing this? “Your time starts, now”, she said.
Two giant bites into the challenge and quickly, I begin to realize that this is no ordinary burger. The camera nearly slipped from my hands as I hurriedly took the photo you see above. Let weary eyes feast on what came out of the kitchen that fateful day, a perfectly cooked medium burger that was juicy and delicious. Kudos to the kind and talented person back there cooking. This was a world class job. With zen like focus and unwavering enthusiasm, I devoured my way to the finish line…
in less than, five minutes.
It was delicious.
PREFACE: This IS NOT a paid for or “comped” review. And, they did not know the purpose of my visit. I review to scale, as in, relative to concept. This is a locally owned burger joint that also, serves breakfast. I did not spend much time pouring over the menu since my visit consisted of a timed eating challenge. My review is only in regards to the burger and lunch service.
CONCEPT: This restaurant has been locally owned for over 30 years. They have two locations. The burgers are noticeably handmade with generous portion sizes cooked to order. Their logo is evocative. It uses attention grabbing yellow and red capital letters with impact fonts. Advertising 98% burger really puts things in perspective. However, they could have done without the kitschy misspelled word in their tag line.
HOSPITALITY: This really worked for me. On the outside, it would be easy to mistake this burger joint for a fast turn and burn type of restaurant. That’s not the vibe. You get a welcome feeling, like they’d recognize you on the next visit.
CLEANLINESS: As far as I could see, this place was clean. There were no sticky seats, counter-tops or tables. The floors were clean and overall, I felt like it was a very well-maintained establishment.
TASTE: What can I say people, this was a timed eating challenge. While I didn’t have the normal amount of time to spend analyzing each bite of food that I consumed, I will say that this burger was cooked to perfection. If I was to nitpick any aspect of the burger patties themselves it would be that the seasoning was uneven in some areas of my burger and that there is no proprietary house blend. Colonel Mustard uses an industry standard 80/20 blend. The burger game is huge these days and the adamant connoisseur will demand uniqueness. The memorable experience should extend well beyond having a gargantuan serving of perfectly cooked beef patty. Making signature flavor is more than just putting toppings on meat. The meat itself should have its very own flavor profile. One of the best burgers I ever had was from a restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska. It was overcooked, but the flavor in the patty made up for that. I’ll never forget how amazing it was. The chef refused to tell me his blend and said I’d have to come back to Omaha if I ever wanted to taste it, again. There are days that I am tempted to call and see if I can fedex a togo order. Colonel Mustard’s was a fun experience. I’ll be reviewing their beach location with same challenge, soon.
THE SCORE CARD:
4.5 out of 5 Stars
– CUTS THE MUSTARD –