Walking along Ģertrūdes iela one day, I saw this new sign saying ”BS”. Cool, I thought, finally a bullshit store with the decency to be honest about it. But when I got closer, my smirk widened into a smile – it's nothing less than a new burger joint!
Lately there has been a small burger explosion in Riga, with burger joints mushrooming up like... mushrooms. Someone who really welcomes this development is yours truly. Since burgers, at its essence, is just protein, bread and accompaniments, it can be varied almost indefinitely. Depending on your preferences, you can make it a snack or a full-blown meal, you can make it a grease bomb or a healthy fitness meal, you can stick to the classic burger style or vary the ingredients to produce almost any kind of flavor profile. It's simply a food chameleon, and I can't think of any friend of mine who doesn't enjoy a juicy burger made with passion and talent.
”the garlic fries are excellent”
The name of this particular burger joint is Burger Story, and no, thankfully its initials are not a description of its food. The place itself sports a stylistically pure combination of brick walls, wooden parts painted white and dark wooden furniture. You can have your grub on street level, with a huge window letting in loads of daylight, or you can head downstairs to a more private space, away from all the cooking action. But before you sit anywhere, you'll do your ordering.
The first thing that hits you is how varied the menu is. At Burger Story, you can choose between burgers with Greek, Italian, Japanese, Mexican etc. touches. Thumbs up for not only having beef burgers – you'll also find lamb, chicken and veggie options. They also have a good selection of side orders, and I have to say that the garlic fries are excellent. That is to say, when they are not soft and squishy, which they have been on occasion. But flavor wise, it's tons of garlic - Ķiploku krogs should come here for a study visit. The spicy chili fries didn't really live up to the description, though, instead they tasted more like ordinary fries.
”the walls are sprayed with old nosebleed”
As for the burgers, I've gone through quite many of them. So far, the Chiliburger with chili mayo, bacon and jalapeños is my favorite. My only complaint would be that it could have a more generous amount of chili mayo. The Story Burger was a bit less exotic (read: quite boring), but it's a decent standard burger. Think twice before ordering the Teriyaki burger, though. The intense sweetness of the teriyaki sauce is something that I think quite few people actually appreciate on a burger. Also, it needs some more veggies to balance things out a bit. The Sicilian (veggie) burger took me a bit by surprise, because I appreciated the vegetarian patty more than the meat ones (more on this soon). The 1001 Nights (lamb) burger sounded like a tasty, fresh option, but fell short once it landed on the table. It had a very shy flavor profile and the sparingly used tzatziki was rather anonymous. Finally I give a hesitant thumbs up for the Crispy Caesar (or Cripsy Caesar, as it says on the big blackboard over the grill), which is a chicken burger with a good amount of garlic in the dressing. All of these burgers come with really good, home-made buns.
However, there is one huge minus with all the burgers. Every single time I've been there (and by now, I've been there a lot), the meat has been not only too rare for me and my friend's tastes, it's been constantly under seasoned. Whenever I've tried just the meat, it's had no taste whatsoever. This is something that Burger Story needs to address immediately, and I don't care how: mix more spices, herbs, garlic, chilies, chipotles, ground chorizo, whatever, in the patties before grilling them, or season them thoroughly while they are on the grill. The meat is the foundation of any good burger, and serving it this tasteless is the biggest no-no of all.
”serving it this tasteless is the biggest no-no of all”
Despite this major flaw, I still have somewhat positive feelings towards Burger Story. It's a fast food place with an urban, chic vibe and the place hasn't yet turned into the shabby joint where your shoes stick to old grease and soda on the floor, where all the furniture is broken and the walls are sprayed with old nosebleed from nightly fist fights in the line (recurring entertainment where I'm from). And the moderately priced food is either already decent, or has potential. They need to have a long talk with their supplier, though, because every time I've been there they have been out of something, be it soda, beer, fries etc.
If I may give some general advice to Burger Story, it would be this: you don't have to travel the world to find inspiration for your burgers. Since burgers are essentially an American thing, you can easily find all the diversity you need within the US borders. There you'll find classic diner burgers with mustard-based dressings, you have the Tex-Mex flavors, in New Orleans you have a wealth of cajun/creole flavors, in Miami you'll find lots of Cuban-inspired comfort food etc. Dare to narrow it down a bit, Burger Story. With all your Greek and Japanese flavors, your menu is a little bit all over the place. Focus on the basics, work on that seasoning, and this food critic might become a regular.