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January 5, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterbacking: Abbey Burger Bistro


Yesterday I reviewed the Abbey Burger Bistro in Federal Hill. I hope my thoughts on the burgers themselves didn't come across as too negative because it's a nice place, and I know that my taste in burgers is like that Jerry Jeff Walker song that goes, "I like my women a tad on the trashy side."

I like my burgers a tad on the trashy side, more guilty pleasure than gourmet food; but I could totally understand how others would disagree with me.  Anyway, this is your chance to defend the lean, meaty burger that Abbey offers. Please do so below. ...

This is a random thought, but I noticed that there's a Burger Bistro at the Shops in Kenilworth, no relation. I wonder what kinds of problems that causes.


(Photo of Abbey Burger Bistro by Lloyd Fox/Sun photographer; photo of the Burger Bistro by me.)


Posted by Elizabeth Large at 12:18 PM | | Comments (43)
Categories: Monday Morning Quarterbacking


(Just sittin' here, shaking my head. Side-to-side, not up-and-down.)

Ilike my women like i like my burgers,
fast, cheap, and a little greasy

My biggest complaint with Abbey Burger was the noise (and the place was mostly empty... the tvs were WAY too loud and the kids voices were echoing) but the food, I couldn't disagree with you more! I loved it! I adored the order form because I always have a hard time remembering everything I want when I go to a place like 5 Guys. And the sweet potato fries were probably my favorite of anywhere, except maybe Miss Shirley's.

I had a lamb burger on an english muffin with goat cheese and yogurt sauce and cucumber. It was fabulous. I so want to go back, but the parking in Fed. Hill....

Also wish they'd close off the bathroom a bit more too. It's just a wee bit awkward.

It was called the Mighty Burger stall at Broadway Market. We would come from Woodlawn for lunch; it was plump, and hard to finish if you also ate the toasted roll. And the flavor of the flame-grilled meat was the best ever. There were many regulars, but Kelly knew your choice; and your name was always Buddy. On tape were Country songs, like David Allen Coe's "I Was Drunk the Day My Mom Got out of Prison." I miss that Mighty Burger. Mighty bad!

Is the burger-with-egg a Baltimore thing? Hamilton Tavern does it, too.

Um... in COMPLETELY unrelated news, Anthony Bourdain is filming in Baltimore (No Reservations) with his Russian friend Samir. Just saw him at Penn Station. Even THEY commented on the Man/Woman thing...

Sean - my partner and I always talk about where we'd take Bourdain to show him "true" Baltimore. The only place I can ever come up with is Cross Street Market. If he's with Samir, he must be doing the Eastern European tour of Baltimore???

sean asked: Is the burger-with-egg a Baltimore thing?

No, sean, it isn't. It's happening here, too. And I was in Orange County, CA over the holidays and it's there, too.

It is the freakin' death of common sense. IMHO.

I like my burgers like I like my women - smothered in onions.

Joyce - That's a good guess! I hadn't thought of that. I asked if they're actually filming here & he said yes, although I see on the No Reservations site that "Washington DC" will air on January 19. Guess we're being lumped together. They took a cab from the station, so it seems they are remaining here.

I've had similar thoughts/discussions about B-More/B-Dain. Crabs, I guess? Surely, there's gonna be some shot of him on the bay in a crab boat. Oh, Lexington Market! That's the one.

Paula Dean also eats an egg on her burger so I don't think it is a Baltimore thing. From EL's review the place sounds like Red Robin with less flavor and hopefully fewer kids. The review certainly does not inspire me to try the place and burgers are my favorite food. Had a really good one at Victory Brewery in Dowingtown, PA the day after Christmas with what is one of the best beers in the world, Hop Devil on Cask. Bucky, I hope you make the trip to Colorado Springs to the Phantom Canyon Brew Pub for their IPA on Cask and a delicious buffalo burger.

I had lunch there on Saturday. It was quiet then, and we were very well taken care of. The staff anticipated needs and questions.... you know how I like that.

I'd go back, probably for Saturday lunch again.

E-E-L - I've heard good things about Phantom Canyon. I have a friend who goes down there just to have their catfish submarine sandwich.

I still have fond memories of Happy Hamburger in St. Mary's County when I was there for college. The hand-shaped their burgers and had the most incredible bleu cheese burgers. Ahhhh...

The egg on other stuff has been discussed before. I know it as a French thing, especially on pizza. It's even been covered on the Owl Meat Apocrypha with a side of Existentialism. Zut alors!

"Nachos" with waffle fries, plain avocado, and creme fraiche? I can see guacamole. Don't like it myself, but it is traditional. This sounds more like "cheese fries" than nachos.

I noticed lately that there is no longer a space to comment on the reviews. That used to attract some entertaining nutballs.

Paula Dean... jeez, nothing could can come from using her as an example. She does stuff that borders on mental illness. Can you butter cotton candy? I'll bet she's tried.

We had dinner there the other night for the first time. While the burgers were pretty good, they weren't remotely cooked to temperature. We both ordered our burgers medium rare and sort of expected that since it's a burger place, that's what they would be. But they were both well done. They also gave me the wrong cheese. But my sauteed onions were great and my husband thought his bacon was perfectly cooked.

If the burgers hadn't also cost $11-12 each, we might have not minded so much, because almost no where can actually cook a medium rare burger.

All the servers were very nice though and the atmosphere was nice. But I wouldn't bet on there being no kids if you go before 7 or 8pm. We had our toddler and there were 4 other families with kids while we ate.

I have heard that the egg-on-a-burger thing is universal in Australia. My husband just had a burger with egg at Red Robin this weekend, and he acted like it was the best thing to ever pass his lips, so my guess is it will gain in popularity.

Now, I haven't been to Abbey so I can't comment, but after reading the review I think I'd have to try the one with bacon and peanut butter.

I know a few other people have mentioned that the egg on the burger's not a local's also on the Red Robin menu, and that's a chain.

My husband used to order it when we'd get carry-out, until he mistakenly looked at the nutrition information online. It has, like, 80 grams of fat or something absurd like that. We're not calorie counters (at all) but that much fat he just couldn't ignore.

Bourdain? In Baltimore? Psyche! I've also played the "where would I take Bourdain?" game, both here and for Detroit.

I have to admit, screaming kids, noise, dry burgers and waffle fry nachos...does not sound like my kind of place.

Put some fat in the burgers, though, and I'll be down there in a trice with my partner, who can't eat commercial beef and loves bison burgers.

I think I'll pass on the egg-on-a-burger thing, I feel my arteries clogging just thinking about it.

But yes, that bacon and peanut butter burger...mmmmm.

PB&J with bacon bits (Bac-Os, actually) are one of my favorites, but I rarely eat it these days.

Where would you take Bourdain in Detroit? How about out of Detroit?

I'm really curious to see how much time they actually spend in B-More.

The man is insanely tall and skinny. And pretty friendly, for being rushed out the door by a producer to fetch a cab.

I went to college in Virginia, and the student center sold the burgers topped with bacon, egg and cheese. I doubt it is a regional thing, and more of an 18 year old metabolism thing.

As for Bourdain, you would have to take him to Chaps. The pit beef sandwich (Baltimore's other signature dish but without the touristy factor that is the crab cake) served up in the parking lot of a strip club. Now, that's good tv.

I'd take Bourdain to my favourite restaurants and bakeries in Warrendale, which is the Lebanese part of town. Possibly to the grocery stores there, too, which are tons of fun, especially when you pick something up, look around and ask how to cook it.

I'd take him to Sinbad's, a very old (over 50 years now, I think) restaurant on the river, in the middle of the ghetto, for great freshwater fish and people watching.

Then to Polish Village in Hamtramck for great, inexpensive Polish food in a charming basement. Would have to stop across the street at the bakery, where they still wait on most of the customers in Polish.

Outside of the city...Mon Jin Lau in Troy does Asian fusion right. Now, I hate fusion. I'll go to Mon Jin Lau anytime. Also, the Punjabi bakery on Dequindre north of 696 in Warren that has a great lunch buffet. She can't cook meat to save her soul, but her veggies are amazing, and it is real Indian home cooking, not tamed down for Anglos restaurant food.

There is great food in Windsor, across the river, but I'm not as up on anything besides dim sum there.

Now I'm hungry, sean .

What is it with this burger craze? Everywhere I go there is a new boutiquey burger specialty shop popping up.

I much prefer a place that HAS a good burger, like Brewer's or Hamilton Tavern. If your whole schtick is a sundry of gourmet burgers, they better be really really good.

PS- Anyone been to Elevation Burger in Harbor East? The site says it was supposed to open in December.

I've eaten at most of the stands on pit beef row (Pulaski Hwy.),and I've found it hit or miss. When it's good it's very good, but I've had my share of tough beef and gristle. There is a Pit beef trailer in an industrial park just off Washington Blvd. across from the new super WalMart that has good sandwiches. The sides are homemade and very tasty.

I have to admit that I am kind of embarrassed that Bourdain is here.

Maybe it's my inherent Baltimore Inferiority Complex?

The thought of getting mercilessly (and side-splittingly) skewered on national TV does not sound good.

"The murders are really enough - but did you have to shove another crabcake in my face?"

almost no where can actually cook a medium rare burger

They've been brainwashed by the FDA, which says you MUST cook ground meat to at least medium-well to kill any e-coli that might be lurking. Some chains even state on the menu that they cook all burgers to at least medium-well. I do not order burgers there. If a restaurant is not sure enough of the provenance of their meat and the storage conditions, I might not want to eat there at all.

Go to France and you see them throw an egg on everything.
Why would anyone chose to go to Red Robin if they didnt want to run into the toddler set?

Bryan, maybe you could take Bourdain to Dego Dames (LQTM)

Bourdain wants to go to The Hustler club and Scores then gobble an Unburger. Maybe from there a quick trip to the Frying Pan to watch the junkies and working girls do their thing. Again, Baltimore will be shown in it's finest light!

I've eaten in South American restaurants where a fried egg is served on steak. And, to be honest with you, it was AWESOME! I tasted my dining partners, and I was so sorry I ordered the stupid paella instead of that dripping with fat and flavor masterpiece of delicousness!

I seem to remember from his book "Kitchen Confidential" that Bourdain worked in Baltimore (someplace at the Inner Harbor) for awhile and hated it. Didn't have a high opinion of Baltimore either but I guess he must know his way around here.

Joyce, Bourdain knows his way around shooting galleries. If Baltimore were still the blue collar town it thinks it is, he'd feel right at home here.

I think RoCK's suggestion of Chaps is right on. It'd be great TV.

We can't do anything worse to him than hakarl.

Joyce, you tasted your dining partners? Whoohoo!

@RIE: That's why I mostly grind my own meat (from local farms) and eat burgers at home. technically it true that in order to make sure that there's no E. coli you do have to cook it to well done. I work in a lab that researches "The E. coli". You should see what happens to the burgers at lab picnics. It's just sad.

But seriously, if you call yourself a Burger Bistro and let customers check off what temperature you want on a little chart, you should be able to cook it to that temperature!

Bourdain didn't like Baltimore. I believe he described the town as having an Ozark Fatalism that comes about from having real cities to the north and south. Of course, he was also strung out on drugs and pretty much hit his bottom while in Baltimore.

Bacon Girl - Si! - con mucho gusto! Whoohoo, indeed. Y usted?

Lissa - Baltimore still has blue collars. They are just being run out of every bar in their neighborhoods by the gentrification, and having roof top decks built behind their homes and blocking thier view of the harbor. But, they're still there. I understand that the "yuppies" made Southside cancel the Little League Day parade last year. A war of the collars is brewing...

Joyce, I wish. I live in one of those rapidly gentrifying neighbourhoods, where the blue collar folks are being run out as rapidly as possible.

But, while there are still some blue collar folks in Baltimore, the city isn't blue collar any more.

Ozark fatalism? We don't have folks from Missouri here. He mean Appalachian? Of course, neither the Ozarks or the Appalachian Mountains have major cities on either side.

Here's a Bourdain quote I found:

“Baltimore sucks.
“If you haven’t been there, it’s a fairly quaint excuse for a city... Bars close at 1 a.m. they start flashing the lights for last call at twelve-thirty. The permanent residents speak of New York and DC with strangely wistful expressions on thier faces, as if they can’t understand how they ended up here, rather than a few miles north or south, where there’s a real city.”

Hmm. News to me that DC is a real city.

Sean, it's not a secret that Bourdain hated Baltimore when he was here. They say he was a junkie when he was here so that might color anyone's opinion of a place. I know some of the more disgusting places in the city because of ..ahem..past flirtations with the product from Columbia that made them extremely wealthy during the 80's.

Maybe he'll see our City That Bleeds with clearer eyes this time and find places to embrace and enjoy. We'll have to how bad he rips us on his show, I guess! We should all meet somewhere that has a big screen tv and watch the episode!

Hmm. News to me that DC is a real city.

Long ago, in another life, a sociologist made a very compelling argument that DC is not, in fact, a city since it only has one industry.

I would send him to Annabelle Lee in Canton. A touch of Baltimore, not tourist oriented and AMAZING food especially the crabcake. That and a Dangerously Delicious Pie!!!

Apropos of absolutely nuthin', I had my first Five Guys burger today...yum! I'm going to treat The Other Half cos he LOVES a good burger. Bye y'all.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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