Photos, story by Cassie Hepler
The James Beard Foundation is challenging restaurants and diners nationwide to reach for a better burger this summer – a blended burger – which adds at least 25 percent earth-friendly mushrooms into the patty. The Blended Burger Project kicked off on May 29 with more than 350 restaurants participating across 45 states, from fine dining to chain operators.
“A ‘Blended Burger’ is a much more sustainable and plant-forward opportunity for chefs to menu the iconic burger,” said James Beard Foundation vice president Kris Moon. “We are excited to see so many restaurants of all types take part in the Blended Burger Project.”
We came, we saw and we ate our way through Philadelphia’s three contestants. Below is our ranking from number one to number three with details of why we loved each burger.
1. McGillin’s Olde Ale House mixed 80/20 angus beef with shredded domestic mushrooms in a 50/50 blend to form this delicious 8 oz patty. The patty is grilled and topped with fresh arugula, goat cheese, and sweet pickled red onion. Served on a toasted brioche bun with a side of sweet potato fries, it was the juiciest of the bunch and the most flavorful. Perhaps it was the goat cheese and the brioche bun, but it tickled the tastebuds with reckless abandon. The sweet potato fries were OK, a little too thin for our taste but that burger though!
2. Poi Dog from food truck to brick and mortar store, this Hawaiian eatery takes a new stab at a traditional burger. The counter-service restaurant is located in the Rittenhouse neighborhood of Philadelphia on South 21st Street between Chestnut and Sansom. When weather permits, the truck sets up at the Headhouse Square Farmers’ Market, Clover Market, Art Star Craft Bazaar and many other seasonally-determined locations and events around the Philadelphia region. The Blended Loco Moco, a Beef and Mushroom Patty over rice with miso gravy, two fried eggs and furikake is an odd take on the burger concept but they pulled it off in a unique mix. An excellent dish for fall and winter, the platter comes with mac which is macaroni salad heavy on the mayonnaise. The Hawaiian guava juice is sticky sweet and would make a great cocktail!
3. Misconduct Tavern In addition to the location at Rittenhouse, we popped by the new location near Logan Square. Additions include additional outdoor seating, 12 featured draft beers, 50+ beer bottle list, a beautiful Nautical atmosphere, and HD TVs to watch the game. The house ground beef with locally sourced chopped Kennett Square mushrooms, flambeed with Jack Daniels served on a Martins seeded potato roll with Der Edel Blu Kase Amish cheese from Goot Essa and pickled shiitake mushrooms, it has all the ingredients for an excellent burger but misses the mark on the juicy factor but that Amish cheese is a nice tangy touch. The french fries were to die for though, we could have eaten a plate of those!
Now through July 31, diners can take part by:
• Visiting participating restaurants and ordering the featured blended burger
• Voting for their favorite burger based on a set of judging criteria at
• Promoting the #BlendedBurgerProject hashtag and their favorite burger through social channels
Chefs from the five restaurants with the most customer votes will win a trip to the historic James Beard House in New York City to showcase their blended burgers at an exclusive event in January 2018. For the first time, to honor the diner’s important role in encouraging sustainable food choices at restaurants, one randomly selected voting customer will also win an expenses paid trip to New York to take part in the event. Chefs and diners can learn more about participating at jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject.
Over the past two summers, more than 500 restaurants have taken part in the Blended Burger Project, and burger fans cast more than two million votes for their favorite burger entries.
Note: No purchase is required to vote. Visit jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject to see a full list of participating restaurants nationwide, and all official voting and judging criteria.
Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation celebrates, nurtures, and honors chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, the late James Beard was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts, instilling in them the value of wholesome, healthful, and delicious food. Today JBF continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships for students of culinary arts and food policy, publications, chef advocacy training, and thought-leader convening. The Foundation also maintains the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a “performance space” for visiting chefs. For more information, please visitjamesbeard.org.