Amsterdam is a beautiful city.
On a clement day there is nothing more enjoyable than ambling past the picturesque houses that flank the canals of the Jordaan, playing ultimate frisbee in the colossal Vondelpark, admiring the decorative window displays of the Oudezijdsachterburgwal, and absorbing the intriguing scents emanating from the many cafes.
They've got a few burger establishments as well.
Burgermeester is one of the two 'upscale' burger chains - with three locations dotted around the dinky city. The branch we hit up in the Jordaan is a delightfully simple set up: The classic burger-synonymous pairing of red and white, with no-frills booth seating and a compact open kitchen has the affectation of a Five Guys without the outrageous construction budgets.
Trying to translate the large tarpaulined scaffold menu with the confused, furrowed brow of the typical British tourist, we eventually noticed a conspicuous omission. No fries. Erm...
The picture became clear when the cheeseburger arrived, a curious mélange of cheese-drizzled patty and country pub sandwich. The thing practically had a garden salad, cucumber and all, crammed into it. It looked, like, *healthy*.
Predictably for Amsterdam, the cheese is very good - the mellow, thick deep-yellow cheddar was handsomely melted with a stringy, rubbery stretch as it pulled away. But whilst the beef (from popular French breed, Blonde d'Aquitaine) maintained the slightest quiver of pink inside, it was flecked with pepper and herbs - still serviceable whilst deviating dangerously into meatloaf patty territory.
Atop this perched the condiments, both takes on the standards: The mustard is more of a mustard seed-laden dressing with a brassy hotness to it, and the ketchup is an intense sweet-tart thick sauce. Thinly sliced red onions add a fresh crunch-ting and everything comes nuzzled in a lightly flour-dusted bap, which is unusually light and bouncy with a crusty-thin outside and soft. It is not ideal, but is solid in its bap-ness. All in all an odd dichotomy that works more as a traditional sandwich rather than uniquely as a burger.
But the Meester's fare does mirror its ethos pretty accurately. They pride themselves on having the highest quality, locally and responsibly sourced ingredients. The photo montage that wraps along the walls showing smug well-treated cows seems to bear testament to that. And they are healthy ingredients too: Toppings range from lentils and grilled vegetables to stewed pears and broad beans. The mini lamb burger with chorizo we tried even came housed in a wholemeal bun. The sides are salads and baked potatoes. What is this, a family fucking barbecue...
It seems to be an exercise in taking the guilt out of the burger by making it as healthy and ethcially sound as possible. Posh burgers with a conscience.
It seems to be a style the Dutch like? Regardless, it's just too clean and prissy for us. We need something a bit more unhealthy... Next stop, The Butcher.