City wanderings - and a pilgrimage to some of the best eating and drinking spots in Brussels. Or maybe not eating or drinking - ah, oh well.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Les Super Filles du Tram

What makes a really good burger?
Is it simply the sum of all its parts, providing you use quality ingredients?  Or is it really just a matter of what meat you use and how you cook it?   As I continue resolutely with my burger eating challenge perhaps I'm finally approaching some kind of an answer.  However after every one I sample the list of potential burger joints does not seem to diminish.  Yes, I will be eating burgers for some time yet. 

The staff in Les Super filles du tram are breezy and friendly.  On my second visit we get in without a reservation and join an already busy group of customers, chatting animatedly.  While we wait there are the wall murals to look at, and the smell of chargrilled burgers wafts towards us from the kitchen at the back.  I am tapping my feet in anticipation: after a couple of scorched hours at the Brussels beer festival, squeezing past people to sneak down two Super des Fagnes beers, I am ravenously hungry.

This time the burgers arrive, not on wooden chopping boards, but on curved and personalised plastic trays.  The chips are still in their customary flower pot, but I must admit I find the trays a little off-putting: they remind me of school dinners or the youth hostel meals where food is served on wipe-cleanable trays.  I suppose wooden chopping boards were not as hygienic, but the plastic trays also have the effect of making the burgers appear smaller.  They are smaller than other burgers I've sampled recently, but they are tall, and impaled on cocktail sticks to keep all the ingredients together.

And what of those ingredients?  Well, here the emphasis seems to be on pleasing everybody, but with a trend towards using posher burger ingredients.  For non-red meat eating customers, there's the chicken breast and lemongrass scampi burger; for the fish eaters, the salmon burger; for vegetarians a vegetable cake burger; for the conscientious beef consumer, an organic burger.....   All of these come with flavours galore: not just cheddar cheese, but comté, gorgonzola, mozzarella, St. Marcellin.  Not just red onion rings, but caramelised onions, grilled red peppers and courgettes.  There's even a foie gras burger....  Never one for me.

So what was wrong?  I'd returned here to try the burgers a second time, but it only reinforced my view that the burgers are too dry - not juicy enough - and hence somehow do not bond together with the lovely ingredients and melt together in a satisfying way in your mouth.  Perhaps I'm answering my own question here: it seems that luxury ingredients count for little when the meat itself is not juicy - just give me a simple cheeseburger instead!  And yet it's obvious that Les Super Filles du tram try very hard, and that the restaurant is popular with many people, it's just that one fundamental aspect is not quite right.

It must be partly linked to fat content of the burger, we muse, as we slowly finish the remnants of our ingredient pile.  You can have a healthy, good quality, lean burger, but if there is no fat then the flavour is hard to recreate without recourse to artificial means (incidentally cheap fast food burger restaurants understand this very well).  It can be the same for roasting joints: in our rush to reduce fat at any cost we forget that it is precisely fat that gives meat a lot of its flavour....  But perhaps fat is not the problem, but then what is it?

Time for an interlude.  And a trip to the toilets: a little hidden grotto resplendent in its cloak of multi-coloured post-it notes carpeting the walls.  I finger a piece of paper and pen by the sink and wonder whether I should leave some kind of mark for those that follow.  What should I write: "Becinbrussels was here"?  No, that would be no good at all.  I've never been one for leaving notes on toilet walls!

Later doubts begin to crowd in: should I be writing about places that are not as good as I'd hoped, when others may disagree with my view?  I seek advice from a few friends: write as you find, they say.  So that's what I will continue to do.  Given the choice, I'd eat a burger at one of the other establishments I've reviewed.  And it's the same for the chunky chips too. 

Becinbrussels ate a Jurançon bio ou presque burger and her friend ate a Classique.  She awarded her own 6 out of ten.  She still has a long way, and a lot of burgers, to go.  Perhaps she is in denial, but really she should just do some more sport.

rue Lesbroussart, 22
1050 Ixelles

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