Let me start by saying I am truly a burger aficionado. As a kid my buddies referred to me as Wimpy because I ate burgers constantly. Now that I’m older, I’m lucky if I have 2 a month because I keep an eye on what I eat. Pops used to take us 3 boys to Brigham’s on River Street in Dorchester and this is where my love affair with burgers started. I know the secret to a great burger is fresh ground chuck (not frozen) with a fat/lean ratio based on how it’s cooked. If you fry your burgers on a flat top 80/20 works well or if your grilling at higher heat you can go 75/25 to keep your burgers from drying out. Some places like to get fancy with using prime cuts of rib eye or even Kobe beef. None of that is necessary because burgers are supposed to be fresh, simple and cheap. This is a food born to feed factory workers at the turn of the century down in Connecticut. It’s blue collar comfort food all the way….
Paul Wahlberg understands all that history and Wahlburgers carries the blue collar theme. He remembers sitting down with the rest of the Wahlberg clan of 9 and having cheeseburgers for dinner. His fondness of those days and his family are pretty clear and he conveys it perfectly. It certainly made me remember my mother making burgers in her 80 year old cast iron skillet.
Walking in the door I was greeted by a well dressed young lady who explained some simple choices on where to sit, I chose the self serve seating. While walking up to the counter I couldn’t help but notice the place was decorated nicely with wood tones and kelly green splashed all over the restaraunt. For a guy like me this invokes a Dorchester feel right away. You think Irish and you think of the great woodworking you find in many of the homes around Dot. The staff was a well groomed, good looking group of young folks all dressed in black tshirts and ball caps with the Wahlburgers logo. The kitchen area looked spotless with quilted stainless steel partitions and countertops everywhere. I ordered a double “our burger”, onion rings and a coffee frappe then went over and found a spot to sit. As I waited for my order I stare up at the back wall and noticed it was a map of the Ashmont area. I see the street I was born on, the street I lived most of my life on and my middle school….”the Woody”. My sense of pride in this area is obviously huge but it seldom gets decent press. To see it enshrined, even in this simple way made me smile for sure. Five minutes later…it’s time to chow.
The frappe was first, and was spot on. It clearly had some rich ice cream that someone put time into with a good thickness to it. On to my massive pile of onion rings. These bad Larrys were impressive, razor thin Bermuda(Red) onion slices with this batter that had some type of tangy dairy base infused in it (totally a guess). Because they are so thin, they don’t hold a ton of cooking oil and stay crunchy without falling apart. They were supposed to come with “Wahl Sauce” but didn’t, which is fine because I’m a ketchup fan when it comes to onion rings. On to the burger, a ten once Dot Day party in your mouth for sure. They kept the burger a manageable size with 5 ounce patties around 4 inches across. This is a huge plus in my book…you can actually eat without getting grease in your eyebrows. The beef was tender and juicy while cooked a perfect medium well by default. The patties were smothered in perfectly melted American or “government cheese” (I do remember the orange block in my fridge). The roll was fresh and fluffy with a nice crispy toasted side that held up to the condiments, all of which complimented the burger perfectly. The “wahl sauce” is some type of mayo and ketchup based sauce that doesn’t overpower the beef. All the veggies tasted clean and fresh.
Now it’s easy for a Dot Rat like me to be biased here and vouch for another Dot Rat. But I know cheeseburgers, and if your faking it I will call you out.
Wahlburgers is legit across the board and I like their food even more than 5 Guys. You can totally tell Paul Wahlberg enjoys what he does. Any good chef gets a kick out of putting a smile on your face, and I smiled like a happy fat kid!!
My only suggestion to them is to get one built in Dorchester….there’s a great spot on Morrissey Blvd where the old BK used to be. I know the family does a lot of good work with kids, what a great thing it would be to offer them jobs.
Wahlburgers is DOTRAT approved!! 😉