FLTO: Toby and the Great Battle of the Burgers!


Howdy guys! This is a very special guest appearance for the “For A Limited Time Only” edition of VeggieMacabre! The cool champ from the great state of Texas, Toby Marks, brings us an awesome review of the great super power burgers from Liberty Burger based out of Dallas. Check out his awesome site, Toby Blog! I heard his kid can complete a Rubix Cube in 2.354 seconds.

Big thanks, Toby! Great work!

LIBERY BURGER: SOVIETS VS USA

In the 80s the Cold War cast its shadow on everything. Everything was a war. We had Star Wars, Cola Wars, Burger Wars, WarGames, Battles of the Network Stars, you name it.

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We were in a titanic confrontation with the evil Soviet Empire, and the fate of the world hung on the outcome. The world could be blown up on any given day. It was just something you knew and accepted.

Oddly enough most of the people who lived through those times are nostalgic for them today. I guess it was because we loved to have a bad guy out there, because that made us the good guy, and we didn’t have to think much about it.

America versus Russia. Good versus Evil. It was the classic, the ultimate, showdown. A rivalry so heated, so sizzling hot, you could almost taste the flame-broiled, beefy goodness of it.


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Woah. Trailed off there for second, didn’t I?

Maybe, or maybe not, because the young Dallas-based burger chain Liberty Burger has done about the best job of embodying the Cold War conflict in beef and bread since Nixon and Khrushchev flung patties at each other during the Kitchen Debate. <— my Dennis Miller line

Listen, ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE?!!!!

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Well pull up a chair to the bar and grab an ice cold lager, because this Burger War is on for a LIMITED TIME ONLY, and it’s about to get hot!

The battle began last year on Independence Day when Liberty Burger announced this monstrosity of an LTO. Representing The United States of America in this competition is the storied “All American”.

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“Our custom beef patty, topped with hot dogs (yes, hot dogs), Cheddar cheese, sweet pickle relish, chopped white onions, ketchup, and yellow mustard. Served on our brioche bun.”

Sheer madness. The audacity of beef. Larger-than-life and in your face (literally). Like America itself, this is a burger that forces you to take sides.

Just look at it.

A mountain of meat all dripping with condiments it can barely contain. A knife planted firmly in its skull, like Ganondorf at the end of Wind Waker. It’s a wanton, sloppy mess. Like Elvis in his Vegas years.

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Yet, there’s something compelling about it. It screams “food challenge”. And you must admit that everything appears to be in order for a patriotic-themed burger. Hot dogs, summer, baseball games β€” your mind leaps so fast between the connections that you can already see the fireworks going off in the background.

This had to be tried. For the country.

So what else could I do but load up the fam and truck on down to the LB to experience this for myself. I think my littlest was as eager as I was.

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While waiting I decided to try some Ugly Pug from famed Ft. Worth brewery Rahr & Sons. Not a bad brew, but I think I prefer their Buffalo Butt.

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I ordered my burger with a side of “skinny fries” and some of that crazy good LB house mustard.

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It did come impaled on the end of a knife, but in person the burger was a little more presentable (and manageable) than the promo shot.

I was glad for that because it made it easier to eat without spilling ketchup and relish all over myself. The flavor was good β€” in fact, the whole thing left a different impression from what I imagined. I expected something super-heavy on my stomach, and it really wasn’t; at least, no more so than a typical burger. Nor was it a sloppy, gushing mess. The flavors seemed to gel, but that was no big surprise. We’re talking about ketchup, mustard, pickles on a burger, after all. The dogs themselves were tasty, but subdued. You barely noticed either the texture or flavor. It all came together to give the impression that you were eating not a hot dog-stuffed burger, but rather something like a hot dog-flavored burger.

And it worked. On every intended level.

This was Americana. This burger bled nostalgia. With those grade A skinny fries (imagine McDonald’s fries at the peak of perfection) and a cold beer, I felt like I was straddling the summit of American pop cuisine. About the only thing missing was a companion apple pie-flavored cocktail along the lines of what they offer with their Ghost Burger at Halloween. That would have made this a meal of epic proportions. That, and if it were served with lit sparklers mounted on the tray.

As it was, this was a burger to be proud of. One worthy of the name β€”

ALL AMERICAN πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

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In the Battle of the Burgers, the U.S. had delivered a powerful opening salvo.

Seven months later, Russia would return fire.

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To commemorate the opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics, Liberty Burger announced a new LTO feature β€” To Russia With Love.

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The new challenger’s appearance was as formidable as it was unexpected.

Our beef blend topped with sliced Kielbasa sausage, Russian cabbage, Swiss cheese, and our house made Liberty Mustard all served on our brioche bun!

The moment I saw that image on the website I knew that I’d inevitably be comparing it to the 4th of July special. They even included a hammer and sickle in the logo, for crying out loud. They knew what they were doing. This was intentional. The challenge was on. The kielbasa sausage immediately evoked comparisons with the humble franks that gave the All American its character, and the cabbage was a completely new addition to the arsenal. They traded American cheese for Swiss, which was a no-brianer thematically, but which was also an obvious and nice pairing for the sausage. That mustard, though. It tied the whole thing together. I’d had it before so I new exactly what to expect. A little tang, a little horseradish heat; it was gonna make that sausage pop. My mouth was watering just looking at it, which was pretty much the opposite impression left with me by my first sight of the All American.

Apparently the day I dropped by to try the Russian LTO I was pretty hungry, because I ordered the double-patty upgrade. Maybe partly as a result of that, the burger appeared every bit as impressive as advertised.

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The photo here is kind of blurry, but it shows that the cheese was still freshly melted. The kielbasa was on the bottom, below the beef patties, as was the mustard. Proportions seemed generous. I dug in.

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The burger did not fail to satisfy. It was delicious. Unlike the franks on the All American which sort of blended in with the other tastes and textures, the kielbasa on the Russian LTO was clearly the standout. Savory and juicy, it stole the show and kept you wanting more with each bite. And if you’ve never had cabbage on a burger, now is the time to try it. I’ve had cabbage on Korean burgers and there, as with this here, it tends to soak up and amplify the flavors and juices from the meat.

FINAL DECISION

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Sorry, America. Really. I hate to drop the news on Independence Day, but like George Washington I cannot tell a lie. The To Russia With Love LTO dropped the bomb on the All American. Better ingredients, better flavors, the patriotic All American was just outclassed and outpaced in the LTO arms race.

Better luck next year, Uncle Sam

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(Note: My hopes for rematch in 2014 were dashed. To my great disappointment LB did not offer an Independence Day LTO this year, so the judgment will have to stand.)

Speak to me, Egor.

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