2.18.2011

Is Boston's Best Burger at R.F.O'Sullivan's?

R.F.O'Sullivan and Son's J.D. Burger
I think it's a fair statement to say that there is a pretty significant and rather heated debate over the famed R.F.O'Sullivan and Son burger.  This quaint little "no frills" tavern style pub in Somerville has been recognized several times over for having the best burger in Boston and there are some die hard fanatics that will fight tooth and nail in honor of this statement.  There are some that are a little more skeptical about this place and would argue that it's not anything special at all.  That being said, I just had to see for myself. Does R.F.O'Sullivan and Son have the best burger in Boston?

For starters, their burger menu is seriously intense.  There's a long list (about 2 dozen strong) of regular burgers in addition to a good handful or so of daily burger specials.  After going back and forth between a couple of different choices, I ended up ordering their J.D. Burger ($8.95), which is their giant 1/2 lb burger brushed with their homemade BBQ sauce and coated in melted cheddar cheese.  When given the choice between french fries, onion rings or a little of both, I went with the half and half (a girl's gotta do her research properly, right?).


About twenty minutes or so later (they warn you that their burgers take longer to make) I was presented with a giant mound of meat shaped into giant meatball form, smothered in cheese and coated in BBQ sauce.  Fortunately, I was able to squish it down a bit to a manageable size.  At first bite, I loved the balance of the thick and tangy BBQ sauce and the healthy amount of cheddar that was hugging the sides of the massive burger.  Finally! A decent amount of cheese on a burger!  The burger itself was cooked to a perfect medium rare.  It's been a while since I've seen that.

This picture really doesn't do the fries justice..these babies were massive!
While I do think that this was a decent burger at an incredible price, there were some major drawbacks.  For starters, the meat, while cooked perfectly, could have used much more salt to really bring out the flavors of the meat.  I believe that had my burger not have been smothered in BBQ sauce and cheese, it might have been a pretty flavorless burger.  I also am not a huge fan of the giant meatball sized patty and didn't understand the benefits of it, the burger didn't appear to be juicer because of it, which is why they claim that they do that.  I can easily forgive this though and chock it off to originality.  On the other hand, the fries were atrocious.  Massively thick slabs of potato that were poorly seasoned and something that required a knife and fork to eat.  Not my kind of fry.  In addition, the onion rings were decent, with a nice crunchy exterior but the thick white film the encases each onion ring hadn't been removed before frying so with each bite, I'd find myself chewing on the whole onion and having just a circle of fried breading left in my hand.

Overall, I think that if R.F.O'Sullivan's added a little salt to their burgers and made their fries a little more manageable, I think there's hope.  I liked the temp of the burger, the cheesiness factor and the flavor of the BBQ sauce and found that it to all be very reasonably priced.  Best burger? I don't think so but definitely something worth checking out.

R.F. O'Sullivan & Son on Urbanspoon

14 comments:

eatliveblog.com said...

We just had an amazing burger at Towne! Went with the flank & shortrib burger (no cheese) and it was A-MAZING!

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

yum! I really want to try Towne's burger..does it not come with cheese or did you opt out of cheese?

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

Even if it wasn't the best onion ring, the photo sure looks BEAUTIFUL!

Kimmy Bingham said...

I have to say I do love RF O'Sullivans BlackJack burger, but it's been a couple of years since I've been there. I'm with you on the size of the burger though... way too big.

Megan said...

Haven't been there in ages, but I remember thinking some of the same things... like, wow, my burger is actually cooked the way I asked for it!

MichellePC said...

In all honesty...before I became a vegetarian, I thought to myself: Can I do this before trying R.F. O'Sullivans burgers? Z lives right by there and I've seen that they have apparently the "best burgers" in the area. Glad to hear I'm not missing much!

Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane said...

This looks amazing -- I'm still drooling over the (not-so-good)onion rings, to be truthful. Will definitely have to add this to my list next time I'm in Boston.

Although, I can say I've never had a better burger than a couple spots here in CA! :)

Daisy said...

well, at least RF O'S brought the cheese.

burgerboy said...

Your burger credentials are improving, my young apprentice. Another terrific post!

Anonymous said...

Can't disagree with your review much. They make a decent burger, but lately I've been gravitating toward the "Flat Patties" style West Coast griddled burger with a better balance between meat and toppings. Or even Five Guys, which is good, but not great. My real goal is to learn how to make a first class burger on my Weber Baby-Q (or griddle).

Then again, I've been trapped at a vegetarian resort in Costa Rica for the past week, so at this point I'm just really looking forward to a Whopper with cheese in the Atlanta airport.

Anonymous said...

The Haven in JP is a serious contender. Like anything it is SO subjective. They us Stilton and Cotswold cheese, Fornax bun and a bacon and onion marmalade.....Sensational and worthy of a mention.

Elizabeth said...

I tend to prefer my burgers (veggie these days) wide and flat, not thick like this. As for fries though, fatties like this are the best.

Boston Food Diary said...

Oooh I have to second the user above with The Haven- they are doing some wonderful things there. I havent had the burger personally but I have stolen a bite of a dining mate- delicious.

Jen said...

Sounds interesting. I love BBQ on my burgers so I'd probably love this one!

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