Food & Drink
Red meat (and more) for the beer-and-burger crowd
Published: February 6, 2013
The crossroads of Craft Beer and Craft Burgers is a heavily trafficked intersection these days, with all signs pointing to further congestion. The better-burger trend is burgeoning here, as it has in other major cities, but Winter Park's B&B Junction is approaching the fray in a cautious, prudent and intentional fashion. For one, they play up the farm-to-table angle, and play it up well: beer from Orlando Brewing and Cigar City Brewing; grass-fed beef from Nine's Mine Ranch in St. Cloud; produce from Eustis and Ruskin. Second, they're in the spot where one of the most popular eateries in all of Central Florida once stood – 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Last, they go beyond their base by wisely offering "alternative burgers": two each of pulled pork, turkey, chicken, vegetarian and bison varieties.
But does it all add up to a better burger? Like anything else, the answer comes down to individual taste. The patties here, just like the patties at, say, Pine 22 and BurgerFi, are fashioned from locally grass-fed cows, but when variables such as cut, grind, fat content, bread and toppings are added to the equation, results can be as varied as the reactions they invoke. I won't even delve into the grass-fed versus grain-fed debate here – for what it's worth, dear reader, I like the burgers served at B&B Junction. A caveat: When you're asked if you like your burger "pink" or "no pink," do yourself a favor and opt for the former. I certainly don't mind certain burgers cooked medium or even medium-well, but here the hand-formed, solidly packed patties tended to lose some juice in our experiments with "no pink" orders.
OK, on to the burgers. The stellar No. 6 ($9), with its infernal mix of ghost-pepper cheese, roasted poblano-bacon relish and sriracha aioli, will make you see stars. It's hellacious, and the brioche bun held up nicely. All beef burgers come in hefty 6-ounce patties, though there is the option to upgrade to a 10-ouncer for an additional $3. I did just that on another occasion with the No. 8 ($11.50), a protein-packed sandwich highlighted with what was supposed to be an over-easy fried egg. Unfortunately, the egg was over hard, lending to rubbery interspersions in between bites, even with a lush spread of roasted tomato chutney, guac and cilantro sour cream. From the list of alternative burgers, the No. 13 ($9.50), a bison burger with a relatively unadulterated crown of tomato, onion, pickle and butter lettuce, was delicately flavored and juicy when ordered "pink," and quite the opposite when ordered "no pink."
For an extra $2, we sampled ho-hum fries of the sweet potato and sea-salt-and-pepper variety. While a tad oily, the thinly sliced buttermilk onion rings fared much better. As starters, both the turkey chili ($5) with white beans and the crisp grilled bourbon-barbecue whole wings ($7 for four) had us slurping and gnawing happily.
"B&B," in case you haven't figured it out, is a reference to "Burgers & Beer," and there's a good selection of the latter, including six frequently changing brews on tap, for you to enjoy in their outdoor patio. We savored Terrapin's chocolate milk stout ($5), but we thoroughly indulged in the bread pudding brioche ($5) with bacon-maple toffee – so much so that we felt there was room for another "B" in the logo. Like their burgers and beer, the bread pudding was done to the letter.
2103 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
> Email Faiyaz Kara