Sunday, January 25, 2009

R.F. O'Sullivan's

282 Beacon St. Somerville MA

You can tell that I am really enjoying my burger when I pick it up for the first bite and never put it down because I just can’t stop eating it, even for a minute. O’Sullivan’s is the kind of burger that I never put down, and then while I sit there and eat my fries, I eye everyone else at the table, wondering if they might not finish, and I might get a few more bites. Sometimes I even think about ordering a second burger, and I've even tried to convince someone to split it with me on more than one occasion. I like this burger.

So what makes it so good? First, it is always cooked medium rare (which is how I order it.) They actually brag on the menu about the fact that they will serve it rare, because their beef is so good. And, I don’t quite know how to describe or evaluate the quality of the beef, but I know it is good. I can taste that much. Another key selling point of O’Sullivan’s, in my book, is that it is more of a ball than a burger. I like to call it a burger ball. That is fun to say, but the real reason it is so important is because I actually think it tastes better as a result of getting cooked this way. Basically, they hand form a ball of ground beef, and then they put it on the grill, and let it cook. I think they must roll it around or something on the grill (it’s hard to imagine “flipping” this burger) but they definitely never squish it. In fact, I don’t even think they have a spatula back there. All I have ever seen are the tongs they use to transfer the burger from grill to plate. I think the cooking method is key, because the burger ends up nice and grilled, and even a little crisp on the outside, but all the juices are sealed inside. Nothing drips out onto the fire, just on your plate, and in your mouth.

If they brought me a plate with nothing but a burger ball on it, I’d be happy. But, it doesn’t end there. I think the bun is sort of perfect. I couldn’t tell you a thing about it, because it does its job perfectly—it is substantial enough to hold up under the weight and juices of the burger, but not overwhelming or distracting in any way. There are also plenty of toppings to choose from. My favorite is the Out of the Blu burger. It is stuffed with blue cheese INSIDE the burger, and then there is bacon and creamy blue cheese on top. You have to ask for the bacon, since it is not standard issue on this burger, but you definitely should. I had never heard of putting the cheese inside the burger until I went to O’Sullivan’s, but I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t do this every time. It is amazing. Other favorites of mine are the Creamy Blue Cheese (cheese and bacon on top,) the Smoked Gouda, and the Cape Codder (with avocado!) Friends of mine with a spicier palate have also enjoyed the Black and Blue (burger rolled in crushed black pepper before grilled, with blue cheese on top) and the JD burger, which is basted in barbecue sauce.

A few other things to note—the French fries are really more like potato wedges. They aren’t even fried. But they are delicious. They also have pretty good onion rings, or you can go half and half. All three are good side options. I typically forgo the lettuce/tomato/onion option—with a burger this good, I find the iceburg lettuce distracting. But it is available if you want it.

In case you can’t tell, I love this burger. It is my standard bearer, which is why I went back here for my first review. I still think it’s possible that there is a better burger out there, and if there is, I want to find it. But it is going to be hard to live up to this.


  1. Love the "burger ball" image! Instant salivation. Can't wait to see you decide this debate - - once and for all!

  2. I remember when we were both vegetarian!

  3. Nice first post. Can't wait to read more.

  4. I couldn't agree more about O'Sullivans. The first time I went, I questioned if a burger could really be as good as your ringing endorsement. I have to say after dozens of O'Sullvans burgers, they are!! Good luck finding anything that compares in Boston.

  5. Speaking of burger firsts, it was in Spain that I first got a burger with a fried egg on it. Killer. The only place I've seen it state-side was at the (sad-face) recently departed B-Side Lounge. Great frickin burger.

    Also, when I was CD'ing MANH I lived in Astoria, Queens and this little place called Blackbird a block from my house did a burger with kimchee on it. I'm sad to report that I discovered this on the very last day of living there.

  6. 1. love it, can't wait to read more
    2. my favorite burger in VT is the one that The Black Door serves, minus the chimi and add blue cheese. you get a side of awesome fries with garlic aioli and a small green salad, so it's a good all-around meal. however, there is another restaurant in Montpelier that claims to serve the best burger in town! i have yet to try it, perchance you would like to make a bit of a detour up here for a future blog post - a burger e burger contest?

  7. 3. BTW, if you are interested in creating your own 'stuffed' burger, i have two great recipes: Rachel Ray's Inside Out Bacon Cheeseburger (bits of bacon and cheddar cheese between two thin-ish patties that get closed around them and a roasted garlic and blue cheese burger that is created essentially the same way. both are incredible. this would be a fun party for the summer - a burger party with all kinds of styles, stuffings, and toppings for burgers!