October 31, 2011

Bad Boy Burgers (Review)

When I first got the idea to combine my love of food and my love of writing into this blog, one of the most appealing aspects was the fact that I could finally review restaurants.  I've always been slightly jealous of food critics (and critics in general, really.)  Getting paid to go out to eat?  Sounds too good to be true.  Of course, at this point it is too good to be true, because apart from the few cents provided whenever anyone is kind enough to click on the advertisements clogging up the corners of this page I don't make anything; if I made enough money at my real world job to do itemized deductions on my taxes I could probably start claiming going out to eat as a business expense, but at this point restaurant dining is just a loss. 
Which isn't to say that it doesn't have its advantages, the biggest being that it helps me in the great going out to eat debate.  It's hard to argue with Wife the merits of new and unpredictable versus familiar and safe when money is tight, but if it's for "work," well, we can't just go to Los Betos all the time.  Then again, if our experience at Bad Boy Burgers (7000 Fairview Avenue, Boise ID 208-373-0020) is any indication, maybe we should. 



Typically, Wife would be at work on a Monday morning, and Boy and I would be making breakfast prior to taking him to school, but Halloween is rarely typical.  Since Girl was scheduled to join us this Halloween, I made arrangements with her mother to keep her Sunday night.  That meant taking her to school as well, but on the other side of town.  Wife had taken the day off, so we fed the kids cereal (skipping the usual cooked meal so as to keep from waking our house guests) and dropped them off. The people on our couch had been consuming wine and horror movies until two in the morning, so it wasn't long before I suggested we go out to eat.  Wife lobbied hard for the aforementioned 'Betos, craving the steak and egg burrito, but I played the blog card. 

"We should try something new."  I'd been eyeballing The Egg Factory for some months, as well as Salt Tears Coffee House and Noshery, a fancy looking place near our house that is attached to an art gallery.  Wife wasn't as reluctant to ditch Los Betos as I thought she would have been, but she still wanted to keep it simple.  We had errands to run, and that meant drive-through food.  We'd technically been to Bad Boy Burgers before but I'd never written about it and more importantly I had no idea they had a breakfast menu. 

The first thing I noticed as we pulled up to the menu was that the outer case had been cracked off of the speaker.  I noticed this by the fact that the person working the drive-through said "Or_r wh__v_r _r read."  I thanked him, wondering if my words were coming out as mangled on the other side, and began to scan the menu.  While I did my usual "restaurant menu pressure" thing, Wife quickly found what she was looking for; a steak and egg burrito.  None of the breakfast items jumped out at me, so I began looking at burgers (available all day) until a truck pulled up behind us.  The speaker repeated that we could order whenever we were ready.  I settled on the sourdough bacon cheeseburger and added fries ala' carte.  In what I should have recognized as foreshadowing, the crabby man working the speaker didn't know that the steak burrito was a menu item (item #2, actually, listed with a 6 oz rib-eye), but said that he could make us one special with the meat from their steak sandwiches.  We pulled up to the pick-up window, and began to wait.

What American cheese lacks in edibility, it makes up for by being photogenically pleasing!

Ten minutes and twelve dollars later, we pulled around the corner and parked with our food.  Wife opened her burrito first, and muttered a curse under her breath.  American cheese.  The menu hadn't specified one way or the other, but we hadn't thought to ask, so this flaw was on us.  It still looked good, although the tortilla was just the standard store bought kind, which made the Los Betos comparison unavoidable.  Wife tasted it, wrinkled her nose, and asked if I would like to try it.  I took a bite; that is to say, I tried to.  My teeth sank through tortilla, egg, hash brown, and cheese before stopping cold on a piece of steak.  I bit harder and wiggled my head.  Finally, I just used my fingers to help tear the meat into two.  It tasted good, but I couldn't really chew it without pushing it all the way back to my molars.  Had this been some sort of value menu item at McDonalds I probably would have been indifferent to the burrito's quality, but at five bucks it definitely wasn't worth ordering, and I say this having gotten one of the "good" bites.  As Wife worked her way deeper into the burrito, she found not only more overcooked steak, but gobs of fatty meat in chunks way to big to be part of a realistic bite. 

I'd marry this bread, but the filling only deserves a one-night stand.
My burger was better, but better in this case is relative.  Instead of a bun, the meat was served on toasted slices of sourdough, with lettuce, tomato, and Swiss.  Unfortunately, the Swiss was also "Americanized," and though it had a more distinctive flavor than its yellow kin, it was still a plasticky mess.  The bacon was crisp and flavorful, far better than the kind that comes with burgers in lesser fast food joints, but the patty wasn't even up to Burger King's standards.  Since the bread was crisp and buttery and the veggies were fresh I had all the components of a good BLT, but instead I ended up with a mediocre burger.  My fries were about the same; they were thick (although not hand cut), and perfectly cooked, but the salt had all fallen to the bottom of the bag and they didn't really taste like anything other than vegetable oil. 

Price = perception.  Would we have been friends at half price?
In the two years since I last ate at Bad Boy, the food has taken a considerable dive.  I could chalk up the overcooked steak to a bad day by the cook, but the hamburger patty itself was sub par-it would have been disappointing even if I had cooked it myself.  If this were some chain restaurant, with low prices and an expectation that quality would be sacrificed to provide them, I would modestly recommend Bad Boy due to the variety of toppings available on the menu, but I cannot in good conscience tell you to eat at what basically amounts to a McDonalds at four times the price because they have mushrooms and slightly sturdier fries.  Bad Boy Burgers may not have the worst food in the world, but when you spend twelve bucks to feed two people, the primary emotion should not be "sad."  On the positive side, even Wife agrees that we need to get the taste-literally and figuratively-out of our mouths, and Salt Tears sounds good to her too.  Hopefully we'll have better luck the next time.   

Bad Boy Burgers on Urbanspoon

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