Big Bam’s offers near-perfect burgers

By Sarah Fulton

Sarah Fulton, managing editor

The building that houses Big Bam’s Burgers, 5930 Nieman Road, has been so many different restaurants in my lifetime that my expectations for this new burger place were not high. I expected it to hold on for a couple of months and then disappear, just as its predecessors.

However, opening in 2006, Bam’s has seemingly broken the curse of a building that has hosted so many dead businesses. Its success must in part be due to the reputation that precedes it. I have reports of the area’s best burgers with every fresh and absolutely nothing frozen.

When I arrived I was simply ready to eat. I walked in and immediately began dissecting the menu posted on the wall. It was decently sized, featuring special salads, chicken sandwiches, assorted sandwiches and 13 different burgers. The dark haired man in a chef’s jacket standing behind the counter, who I later figured out  was the owner, waited patiently with pen in hand as I fought to make a decision.

I finally decided on the Mushroom Mania burger with tater tots and the Bacon Etc. burger with chili cheese fries and sat down to wait for my order. Sitting at a booth in the corner I dissected the restaurant. The interior was dimly lit with the majority of the light streaming in from the windows. The floor had the traditional black and white checkered pattern, and the ceiling was painted a deep black.  Booths outlined the dining room with three tables positioned in the middle. Slow, classic rock ballads played over hidden speakers, just a little too loud to be background music.

Just as I finished absorbing the interior, the food arrived. The bacon burger had a spattering of cheese, holding down two pieces of bacon.  The patty was browned perfectly, crispy on the outside and medium well on the inside. It had a light but delicious flavoring that brought out the richness of the meat. The bacon had the thin limp appearance of microwavable bacon but tasted simply amazing. The thin cut made the texture of the bacon indiscernible from the cheeseburger patty. So when the sweet flavor of the bacon mixed in with the savory burger, it was a nice surprise. The vegetable toppings were so crispy and fresh it seemed as if they had been cut from a garden in the back of the restaurant just before being put on the burger. The onions had such a sweet juicy flavor that they balanced perfectly with the vast amount of meat. The bun was toasted and thick with a very starchy flavor.

The mushroom burger was very similar to the bacon burger. It came with the top bun and toppings on the side, revealing the perfect mixture of cheese and mushrooms melted on top of the burger.  The mushrooms were sliced to a medium thickness and attached to the top of the burger by a smattering of melted cheese. It was really good, but just slightly less amazing than the bacon burger.

The side of tater tots were cooked to golden brown perfection but they were just simply tater tots, nothing special.

The chili cheese fries were a white bowl full of uniqueness. The top layer was a Cajun sauce that had a huge kick. The yellow pink speckled paste smothered everything else in the bowl both physically and in taste. The next layer was the chili, basically hamburger with a chili coating. It was tasteless under the Cajun sauce, but added a nice thicker texture. Intermixed in the chili was an unnatural artery-clogging amount of bacon. Cooked to a crisp perfection, it added more to the complex texture profile than to the taste. The only taste that was distinct against the sauce was the French fries. They were thick cut and slightly soft, but that’s how I like my fries.   The soft texture helped to absorb the sauce in a way that a crispier fry could not have.

All together the fries had a complex interesting flavor and texture. I have never had anything like them, and I will definitely be trying them again. Only next time I will be prepared with gum because the Cajun sauce sticks with you.

Overall, all of the  flavors of Big Bam’s stick with you. They do not have the perfect burgers, but they definitely come close.

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