Let me start by saying I’ve never been to Rouge since I’ve lived in Philadelphia. Not even for a drink. How is that possible? I’ve heard from many sources that the food at Rouge is excellent and that the burger is on the top of the Philly burger food chain. I decided that the next phillyburgerquest, which happened to coincide with my birthday, would be the Rouge burger. Mrs.Burgerquest and I trekked there in the blistering cold on a Friday in early Feb.
Rouge is a kinda small, darkly lit, beauty of a restaurant right on the hippest part of Rittenhouse square. If I had to describe the food it would be “New American meets French bistro”. Whatever. Based on the burger list, the burger is listed on Uwishunu as:
Rouge: Overlooking Rittenhouse Square, Rouge is a longtime favorite for people-watching and burger-eating. Its zaftig challah roll-encased patty with caramelized onions and Gruyère is a mainstay of best-of-Philly lists and also has landed national praise.
I applaud you Rouge, for giving me EXACTLY what you advertised.
The meal began with a Mac 12 and a Muddle Blackberry martini. You can guess who had which. We decided to go light on the teasers, but still managed to order a good amount of them. We ordered a half-dozen of West Coast oysters (don’t remember what kind), a delicious scallop crudo and some really solid fish tacos. All 3 were a great introduction to the meal and were very light. Next came the burger. WHICH WAS F*CKING AWESOME. You know when you take the first bite of a burger and it instantly hits you that THIS is a damn good burger? Well, that certainly happened when I took the first bite of the Rouge burger.
This burger was something special. If I had to approximate, I’d put it in my top 5 (Ok, probably 6) burgers of all time. Juicy, meaty, savory, sweet; every flavor accent was seeping throughout this burger.
Meat: This meat was ridiculously good. Full of flavor, cooked to a perfect medium rare, excellent crust that sealed in the juices. I had to think the Rouge kitchen collaborative was perfectly constructing the optimal beef patty. Nope. Turns out it was just ground sirloin. Beautiful. (Score: 9 out of 10)
Toppings: 2 toppings is perfect for a burger who’s standout is definitely the meat. The caramelized onions were cooked to a sweet finish and were hidden neatly underneath the cheese. I can’t say enough how much I enjoy when the cheese is cooked on top of the onions. I don’t have that much experience with Gruyère cheese, so I couldn’t tell if in comparison to other Gruyères how it matched up. Still, it was really tasty cheese. (Score: 8 out of 10)
Bun: The bun was really, really good. Perfectly doughy on the outside, butter griddled on the inside. As far as challah-based buns go, this was definitely in the top 1 or 2 buns I’ve had. (Score: 9 out of 10)
Presentation: The plate consisted of just the burger. The Parmesan-truffle fries (definitely go for the upgrade and get these. Game-changers) came on a separate contraption. The service was great. The server offered suggestions based on our likes for both the ‘teasers and the drinks. When I asked her about the meat, she took the time to find out the exact contents of the patty. Way to go, Rouge servers. (Score: 8 out of 10)
Overall Thoughts: This burger was awesome, in almost every way. I honestly can’t think of any flaws or ways to improve upon the success that this burger has attained. To Mr and Mrs Rouge: Sorry I’ve never been to your glorious restaurant. I look forward to going back to Rouge and enjoying this burger many times over. (Overall Score: 8.5 out of 10)