Update: The Hay Merchant has unfortunately dropped out. But the remaining Final 3 will be there Saturday to battle it out for the supreme burger in Houston. Don't forget to join us!
We held off posting the result for the 2013 Burger Bracket until today, April 2, so that none of you would think the Final 4 were an April Fool's Day joke. Because check out some of those dark horses up there: brand-new icehouse The Refinery over old-school, homespun Stanton's Family Bites, or fancy-pants date spot Rainbow Lodge over down-home Bubba's Texas Burger Shack.
These are the Final 4 competitors -- whittled down from the Elite 8 -- who'll be facing off this Saturday, April 6 at The Refinery just after high noon. How did they get picked? I'll allow our judging teams to explain:
The team that had to decide between Miller's and Champ Burger came away impressed with both spots, but found that Miller's barely edged out the Second Ward burger favorite.
We were impressed with the poppyseed buns at Miller's Cafe and the nice subtle char on the patties along with the quality of the cheeses used there. Champ Burger definitely had amazing milkshakes and outside of just burgers, my girlfriend came along and had the steak sandwich, which she loved. Although in just burgers, MIller's Cafe was a clear favorite.
Team "I Can Judge Cheezburger" reported back that Bubba's and Rainbow Lodge were both evenly matched as well.
Although Bubba's put forth a pretty solid buffalo burger, we all agreed that it was not in the same class as Rainbow Lodge, which we pick to advance to the Final Four. As for toppings, we probably preferred the a la carte style of Bubba's vs. the overwhelming pimento cheese at Rainbow Lodge. However, overall, the patty at Rainbow Lodge was more flavorful, juicy and interesting and with a better bun to burger ratio. The combination of meats (this time venison, buffalo, antelope and pork belly) combined to make a very juicy burger at Rainbow Lodge.
Finally, our "Pappa Charlie's BBQ" team had a field day with their field notes, going into juicy detail about their match-up between The Refinery and Stanton's:
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SHOW ME HOW
While there was a clear-cut winner, we don't believe either of these burgers were as good as the previous two. Taste is obviously subjective but these burgers fell into a different category. Much larger patties, sweet buns and pickles with a different taste.
Stanton's was the first stop and we waited anxiously for the arrival of the two burgers which we split in order to save our stomachs and get both done today. Both burgers were served quickly and showed up as ordered. While this burger was good, as I mentioned earlier the sesame seed bun was a bit too sweet for all of the judges and the meat was in our opinion lacking seasoning and overcooked. When I see multiple judges reach for the salt and pepper after the first bite, I know there seems to be an issue.
The Refinery would be stop number II again, service was fine, burgers arrived quickly and at first glance I could tell that this was going to be a better burger. The juices oozed from the patty and if you were not careful would have run down your arm. Another non traditional bun that seemed to lean toward the sweet side as did the "house made" pickles, neither of which any of us really cared for.
All that being said, judging what was presented on this day, The Refinery was the winner.
AND.. they will have home court advantage as the others will have to transport burgers, should be fun to watch.
The Burger Bracket Final 4 will kick off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 6 at The Refinery. Sampling starts at 12:30 p.m. and the first 150 people in the door will be deciding which of the Final Four is this year's Burger Bracket Champion.