Mission for a great burger

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I’m in San Francisco again. My dragon boat team has come down 4 of the past 5 years to race at the Treasure Island festival. This weekend is always the funnest festival of the year and marks the end of our 7 month season together and our 15th year as a team. One of the wonderful things about my team is our love for eating and in San Francisco each year, we pick out a few places for team dinners over the weekend. It’s great to get together over a meal and have some laughs. Unfortunately, over the years, I’ve felt like I’ve had to compromise on the where we go to eat because of the size of our group. I have a list of places I’ve wanted to try which seems to grow each year, but never have the time or ability to cross any of them off my list. So while I go to San Francisco every September, I’ve never had the opportunity to tackle the great dining scene.

We usually have Friday night as our “free” night, to fend for ourselves and we usually break off into smaller groups for the evening. The last couple of years, a group of us have taken in a ball game, but this year with neither the Giants or A’s were in  town. With nothing on the agenda, I took it as my opportunity to plan an eating adventure. Knowing my potential dining companions, I knew that I couldn’t choose anything too pricy or far away and then I remembered friends raving about a burger last year that seemed like it would be an easy sell. Not wanting to seem exclusive to the whole team, I put it out to everyone that I was thinking of grabbing a burger and attached the Serious Eats article on Mission Bowling Club’s Kick A$$ Fried Chicken, Burger and Fries. Within a few hours, the whole team was sold. Lucky for me, the gang at Mission Bowling Club was able to accommodate our group of 18 up in their mezzanine, (minus the 20yr old on our team who was underage and turned away at the door).

Mission Bowling Club

From my friend’s recommendation (and the Serious Eats article) most of us were going strictly for the fried chicken and burger. It’s probably not the wisest choice of pre-race day food, but in all honesty, we’ve had worse. A beer sounded like the perfect accompaniment to this meal, I couldn’t take my eye off one of the cocktails on their menu.

"Mission Bowling Club tangerine sour"
Bourbon, tangerine syrup, egg whites and lemon

The fried chicken and burger were calling me, but I also had to order the padron peppers I saw on the menu. Not only are padron peppers one of my favourites, I also felt like I needed something green in my meal as well.

"Mission Bowling club padron peppers"
Padron peppers with powdered popcorn – American padron peppers are not as delicate as their Spanish counterpart but still a wonderful treat.

The Serious Eats article dealt such high praise to the fried chicken that I had high expectations. The dry base of the batter consists of chicken skin ground and mixed into the seasoned flour. I was being promised the “chicken-iest fried chicken” I’ve ever tasted…

"Mission Bowling Club fried chicken"
Verdict? Crispiest fried checken ever. Moist & flavourful too. That’s ranch dip on the side but I didn’t need it.

And then there’s the burger. I am a fan of a good burger and it’s something I crave when I travel south because stupid Health Canada decrees it un-lawful to serve a burger anywhere near pink.  Promised to be “the best burger” by sources I trust and knowing that I’d be able to order it the way I like it, I eagerly anticipated this burger. Again, the Serious Eats article explains how this simple 1/2lb burger is created with such complexity that I crossed my fingers that this burger would deliver.

"Mission Bowling club hamburger"
Cooked a perfect medium rare, the meat was flavourful and the bun was so much more than just a vehicle. The enemy on the plate were the fries though. So crispy and perfectly salty, I ate too many of them to get through more than half of my burger.

Think about the last burger you had where you were wow’d by the texture of the meat.  You probably can’t, because it’s not something you think about. This burger made me realize that texture really matters. It also confirmed my feeling that if I can’t get a burger medium rare, it’s not worth eating.

Thanks to my teammates for coming with me on my food adventure!

Thank you to my teammates for sharing this eating adventure with me! And to John&Vince for letting me use a couple of your photos.

Mission Bowling Club – 3176 17th Street, San Francisco

2 Replies to “Mission for a great burger”

  1. Yum, as a note, it is not unlawful to sell pink hamburgers. The Oakwood on 4th asks you how you want it cooked. Good burger just order it without the sprouts.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, I will try that out with my father-in-law who’s always looking to order a pink burger.

      I know it’s not technically un-lawful, although Health Canada recommends that ground meat be served at an internal temperature of 71degrees Celcius. I believe there are only a handful of places around that carefully grind their own meat and are able to serve burgers “how you like it”.

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