I have been to the top of the mountain… and they serve hamburgers.
OK, that mild rise on Girard isn’t really even a hill, but the hamburgers really are amazing. I’m talking about the newly opened Sketch Burger and Shake Joint, at 413 E. Girard in Fishtown [where: 19125]. Dear readers, we have a serious contender for Best Burger in Philly.
The menu is simple: burgers and shakes, and one token salad. Pick your protein, sauce and toppings, and choose from four shake flavors (vegan or milk). Options are beef, turkey, ‘smashed onion,’ vegan burger, chicken, and American Kobe beef, as well as the day’s special, a seitan burger highly recommended by the server. Joe and I, being hedonists, went straight for the American Kobe burger ($9.75). He got harissa aioli, I chose Thai peanut sauce on the side. I went for grilled onions and avocado. The burger arrived, and it was massive. Really, I cannot believe they crammed that much meat into one burger. Most kobe burgers tend to be on the small side– $9.75 may be expensive for a burger, but for kobe it’s really an excellent deal. It arrived medium rare, thank God– overcooking meat of that quality is a sin. We got our burgers to go, so the bun was slightly soggy, but it really held up well given the juiciness of the burger. The grilled onions sat below the patty, and above it were slippery sliced avocado, a slice of juicy ripe tomato and some high-quality salad greens. This is a difficult burger to eat. It’s crammed full of fresh ingredients that want to come bursting right out of the bun. The effort, however, is worth it, as is the 20-minute wait while your burger is cooked to order. The end result is incredibly rich, flavorful, juicy, and did I mention rich? It was a bit of a shock to my system since I’ve been eating lightly recently, but very much worth it.
We also shared a vanilla milkshake, which was flavorful and thick but not too thick. (As Joe put it: “Thick, but I won’t have a brain embolism trying to suck it through a straw.”) Everything is made fresh here, so no chalky chemical taste either. I try to take it easy on the lactose, so I’m really looking forward to trying a vegan shake.
The shop itself is cute; there are blackboards everywhere and rolls of butcher paper on the tables, and customers are encouraged to doodle with chalk (hence the “Sketch” name). It’s also open until 11 pm, which is wonderful for those of us who live in the neighborhood. And vegans, vegetarians and the lactose-intolerant can all find joy in this menu.
I found only two downsides to our delicious, gut-busting meal. One was the cheese selection: American (ew, plastic), horseradish cheddar, pepper jack, vegan and bleu. One straightforward cheese option, an aged cheddar or maybe a sharp provolone, would be welcome. The other was the standard side order of Cheesy Poofs– ours were stale. Sketch would be better off dropping the little orange orbs and developing the ultimate French fry. They’ve mastered the ultimate hamburger, so why not?