By Mike Thayer
I'm traveling around the Wichita Metro, sampling the burger offerings from any joint that has burgers on the menu, local, regional, national chain, it doesn't matter. In order to determine a true champion of burgers in the metro, I'll have to sample them all in the name of "burger science" (cough). For the burger criteria, click here.
Happy Wednesday, hump day! Back in the day when I worked in the corporate world, a few of my co-workers would always remind me of that Geico commercial with the camel, "Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike..." It was always good for a laugh and helped to get us through the day.
But these days I'm powering through Wednesdays free of the corporate B.S. and enjoying the middle of the work week with burgers!
Today I visited Jumbo's Beef & Brew for a late lunch. Known for it's Italian Beef Sandwiches and Chicago-Style Giardiniera, Jumbo's also has a great looking line-up of burgers. In keeping within the parameters of my Burger Challenge, I went with what they call the "Vacancy," Wagyu beef patties, Tillamook Cheddar, applewood bacon, caramelized onion, pickles, crack sauce. And yes, you read that right, Wagyu patties. Jumbo's takes great pride in making burgers with Wagyu, which if you haven't eaten before has intense marbling. What you get with Wagyu is a more robust flavor than regular beef and a buttery texture, a.k.a. melt in your mouth meat.
It didn't take long at all to receive my burger and side order of fries, in fact, I swear it was faster than fast food, which made me wonder if it was truly made to order. The total time passed was under 6 minutes, about the time it takes to fry a batch of french fries which were piping hot when placed on my table. I question whether you can properly cook two upscale 1/4 pound Wagyu patties AND properly assemble the burger in that time frame. In taking pics, the two 1/4 pound patties were warm, but not almost too hot to the touch as they would be had they come directly off the flat top from the full cook. The melt on the cheese was a tell too, it was applied during sandwich assembly and only slightly melted from residual heat, rather than getting a proper melt on the beef near the end of the cooking process. Cheese has a more robust flavor with a proper melt.
I took the first bite, it was a good bite and a messy bite, normally, that's a good thing. The Wagyu beef was tender and seasoned well. The bacon was crisp and flavorful, the grilled onions provided a nice element, there was good coverage with the pickles which provided a nice tart bite. The crack sauce was good, but the burger was overdressed with the sauce slightly overpowering what should be the star of the show, the Wagyu beef. The pretzel bun was a good call, as it held up to all the moisture in the burger and sauce from first bite to last. The burger patties were juicy, but was that bonafide 100% Wagyu juice from cooking? Or was it burger juice plus moisture from a warming bin? I wasn't in the kitchen, so I don't know, but my judgement, training and experience tells me the Wagyu was pre-cooked and the burger assembled to order, rather than cooked to order. Taking shortcuts with Wagyu? Call me a burger snob but that's a shame. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think so.
Side Note: The french fries were awesome! I loved the texture on the exterior which provided a nice light crunch and the interior was fluffy spud goodness. Seasoned well, these were some of the best regular cut fries I've enjoyed so far in this challenge.
Costing me $16.12 for the burger and side, the Jumbo's Beef & Brew Vacancy Burger scored 56 points out of a possible 63, earning it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. Take away another point and this burger would have received 4 star status. Honestly, I had higher hopes for a Wagyu touted burger. The Vacancy Burger offers a nice combination of ingredients, great flavor pairings, but the execution just wasn't there. There are better burgers to be enjoyed in Wichita and they're not Wagyu. What Jumbo's offers in my opinion is not worthy of a repeat buy. Perhaps it could be with better execution.
Located at 3750 N Woodlawn Blvd #102, Wichita, KS 67220, Tyler provided stellar service. Working the bar and tables, he greeted me when I entered and was very attentive from the time I sat down until I departed. I didn't have to ask for a drink refill, he asked how my meal was, he went above and beyond to ensure I had a good dining experience. Thank you Tyler.
$pend Wisely My Friends...
Related: Other burger joints reviewed so far
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