Price: $14 (incl cheese and fries)
A few nights ago, in my everlasting and now official quest to find the best burgers in the Bay Area, I tried Spruce for the first time. Spruce was ranked #2 on 7×7’s “Best Burgers of 2009” list and was also listed in 7×7′s 2010 list of “100 Things to Eat + Drink Before You Die.” And while I was a little intimidated by the fact that the restaurant is, well, Spruce…it seemed an obvious place to start. And? I say the burger lives up to its reputation. Upon finishing the burger, a woman seated next to us commented, “I mean, really it’s just a burger.” [Gasp] Not so! Is a Picasso just a painting? Is LeBron James or whoever just a basketball player? The Spruce burger lives up to the hype: a high-quality, juicy, flavorful meat patty, along with hand crafted veggie toppings, stuck between a delicious and perfectly proportional bun, is almost more than I can ask for…almost. This burger is a true outlier.
Size: It’s a two-hand burger
Accouterments: The burger was accompanied by a side of iceberg lettuce, tomato, and house-made pickled red onions and thinly sliced pickles. A metal cup filled with french fries and a side of rémoulade joined the burger on the plate. A separate plate containing individual servings of ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper was placed in between myself and my dining partner. Upon request, the bartender told us that the bun is in fact made by their own bakery, Mayfield (they also have their own farm and coffee facility).
Type of meat: Cow
Ranch: Creekstone Farms (Midwest)
Beer with Burger: Kwak Special Ale Draft (Belgium); $9
Beer Selection: About five beers on draft, local beers priced around $6. Above average bottle selection.
Ambiance: This place is kinda fancy and kinda old school in a Laurel Heights kinda-way. I don’t really know what that means, but picture the opposite of the Mission. Yet somehow I didn’t feel out of place. The staff was cordial and gracious and we received excellent service overall. We sat at the bar and the bartender was able to answer our questions concerning the origins of the food and seemed knowledgeable about wine pairings as well. The restaurant and bar were full but not overly crowded.
Burger rating: 2 standard deviations above the mean