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Icon Burger


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Lance, first off I really appreciate that you are posting here on this forum and I appreciate what you are trying to do with Icon.

I really wanted to love your place and went in with high expectations. Maybe they were too high. I didn't talk about some of the service problems we experienced because I don't think that would've been fair for me to do regarding a place that was only 1 day old when we visited. I think the press releases, newspaper articles, and comments comparing your place to In-n-Out really raised people's expectations.

However, I've got to agree with Robin (RLM), I think she really hit it on the head, right now Icon just doesn't offer enough 'differentiators' to make me want to rush back in.

On the french fry subject, maybe you should think about offering both types? Some people (my wife included!) like frozen fries. However, I'd gladly pay more for real french fries. If I'm going to eat fries, I want them to be real and to taste like potatoes. There are certainly ways to make fresh cut fries hold for longer, i.e. the classic double fry, but I think you can also do it with thin cut fries, maybe a la the fries at City Grille on Capitol Hill in Denver (I don't believe their fries are double-fried and they hold up for long enough for me to eat my burger and taste damn good)

Edited by Chezhoff (log)

Brian Hoffmeyer

"It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."

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On the french fry subject, maybe you should think about offering both types?

OK, even I think it would be unrealistic to offer two types of fries at a simple burger restaurant. But, I do think that blanching the fries makes a big difference. Doesn't the double cooking method improve even frozen fries?

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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OK, even I think it would be unrealistic to offer two types of fries at a simple burger restaurant. But, I do think that blanching the fries makes a big difference. Doesn't the double cooking method improve even frozen fries?

I don't know that it is unrealistic. Arby's manages to pull it off...not well, but they do offer at least 3 different "fried potato products". The old Paul's Place (in the 16th and California Food court and the Cherry Creek Mall) did it as well. Paul's is actually a fairly good comparison in my mind to what Icon Burger is going for. Paul's also made incredible onion strings but that's a whole 'nother Oprah.

Fred, I agree that double cooking would improve frozen fries.

One other comment on the fry issue, the menu specifically mentions that the burgers come with a large portion of fries. The portion on our plates was definitely not large, maybe this was just a mistake?

Brian Hoffmeyer

"It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."

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Doesn't the double cooking method improve even frozen fries?

Actually, I remember an Unwrapped episode where they said that McDonalds fries are fried once at the factory before shipping to restaurants. In fact, I think Ore Ida and other fries in stores are fried once at the factory. And they are usually crispy, but potato starch (a la Burger King) could be part of it. My guess is that the fries Icon buys are fried once at the factory.

Of course, my opinion is if you are going to do twice frying, don't even bother with french fries. Do pommes souffle. Still my favorite style of fried potato and even the ones that don't puff are good. (I always wondered why they weren't automated...it always seemed like a process that could be. An auto-cutter to make the rectangles, one vat at 300, the other at 375 or whatever...seems doable...)

TheMatt

Learning just means you were wrong and they were right. - Aram

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I was working new products for McDonald's when they evolved from fresh to frozen fries. It was brought about by franchisee pressure. Fresh fry production, especially at McDonald's scale, is truly a pain.

It was a long, painful process. The criteria, set by founder Ray Kroc, was that McDonald's would only switch when panels of McDonald's customers from around the country could not tell a commercially frozen fry from a fresh fry.

McDonald's got there with Simplot. They built a special production line that blanched the fries in the same shortening that McDonald's used in the restaurants. It was a very good fry and while typical McDonald's customers could not tell the difference, skilled palates could. That the fries are shoestring rather than 1/4" or 3/8" cut made the process easier.

To answer the question about two step frying of frozen fries - the initial blanching is to remove moisture and mostly cook the potato. The finish fry adds color and crispness - kinda puffs the french fry up. Frozen fries, as I understand it, are already partially cooked, either in water or shortening. There is no point in a second blanching.

Fresh cut, twice fried fries will always be better than frozen fries. Most restaurants don't do it because it is very labor intensive and because it requires more space for potato storage and frying equipment. Because of this, there is the opportunity for a restaurant that is willing to make the effort to shine. Given two relatively equal burger or dog stands, I, and I think most people, will pick the one with fresh cut fries. Some people, including me, might head there just for the fries.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Some people, including me, might head there just for the fries.

I'm one of those people, and Icon Burger is close to home.

But you've already admitted that you wouldn't even cross the street for a good burger, haven't ya?

Edited by fredbram (log)

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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Some people, including me, might head there just for the fries.

I'm one of those people, and Icon Burger is close to home.

But you've already admitted that you wouldn't even cross the street for a good burger, haven't ya?

Exactly. But I'd kill for the perfect french fry.

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Hey Members,

Thanks for all the input. One comment on the fries. I realize that when it comes to our beloved french fries, people are all over the board. I truly did taste and cook about every option (steak, fresh, baked and fried, double fried, super premium, crinkle), and found that during our tasting people really enjoyed our fries. Like the decor of our space, it reminded them of a traditional diner fry. I know we screwed up cook times on many of our fries the first couple of days to expedite orders, and I don't beleive we got out the perfect diner fry like we would have prefered. Again, my apologies. One more note on the fresh fries, our restaurant is only 1200 sq/ft with a 333 sq/ft kitchen, that's it. It's really tough to do a lot of prep in such a tiny space and some concessions sometimes must be made.

Sorry if I sounded a bit edgy in my initial posting. When you commit two years of hard work and energy in the quest of to provide what you think is the perfect burger to customers, you get a bit defensive. Regarding "cow lips", deep fried is preferred. (just kidding, about the lips in both postings).

I'd love you all to try our burgers (again for some), I know we'll impress you. Right now my biggest problem is too many customers for our tiny space (I know, good problem to have). 300+ customers a day is far beyond any spreadsheet expectation. Some burger joints would kill for such a day. So, we'll keep working on things.

By the way, if there are any Harley guys/gals out there (like myself) this is definitely a biker friendly place, so cruise in with your loudest chopper. Maybe I'll buy you a PBR pint.

Thanks again all!

Lance Perryman

Managing Partner, Icon Burger LLC

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lance, we're good people--picky but good. well, i'm not--good, that is--but the rest are. actually, i'm not sure about mike k either, but we're all picky. and we can be bought with free burgers.

at some point someday i will try your burgers. my cardiologist gets upset if i eat more than 2 burgers a month and so i try to make sure each one is a good one. i'll give you guys a month to settle in and get comfy and then i'll be there. pbr is a good incentive--the southern sun/mountain sun here in boulder have better beers but i'm sure your burger is better (though unlike some i don't sneer at their burgers either).

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but we're all picky

Mr. rlm told me I was picky, so I said, "You mean I have a well-developed palate, right?" The response: "Isn't that just a fancy phrase for picky?"

Lance, since this is a board for food geeks, we are probably a little more...um...selective than the general dining public. I think I was guilty of being a bit too amped up and expecting to be blown away too, and that's probably not fair for your second day of business.

Oh, and thanks to Holly for sharing the frying expertise.

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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... actually, i'm not sure about mike k either...

That hurts, mongo. Bought off with a burger, indeed. It usually takes at least a decent scotch.

Lance, it's great to hear that you're having such a successful opening!

What's your source of beef? Is it something like Swift/Tyson/IBP, or Coleman/Niman/Lasater? Do you grind it yourself?

All this fry talk has coaxed me to get out the mandoline and fryer. I think I'll have a go with Holly's recipe this weekend.

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All this fry talk has coaxed me to get out the mandoline and fryer. I think I'll have a go with Holly's recipe this weekend.

mike, if you have a mandoline, you have to do pommes souffle. I mean, fries are good and all, but they aren't little pillows of potato perfection.

Of course, you could be like me the time I tried it. Man, I had a lot of rectangular potato chips after that day. I must have gone through like 12, 13 potatoes. I still don't have the guts to try pommes Chatouillard. Now *that* would put a burger joint on the map!

TheMatt

Learning just means you were wrong and they were right. - Aram

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Matt, please enlighten us (or just me) on what pommes Chatouillard are. I'm always interested in new potato related information (well and russet potato information too...get it?)

Brian Hoffmeyer

"It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."

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Matt, please enlighten us (or just me) on what pommes Chatouillard are. I'm always interested in new potato related information (well and russet potato information too...get it?)

Hmm, hard time finding pun to respond: creamer, boiler, Burbank...

Pommes Chatouillard are, essentially, spiral pommes souffle. From CookItSimply (because I can't seem to search French sites today):

Method

1. Peel the potatoes, then cut into ribbon strips by peeling off the flesh in a spiral fashion, about 3 mm (1/8 in) thick.

2. Gradually heat the fat to a medium heat and fry the strips until they start to rise in the fat.

3. Remove and drain in a frying basket.

4. Bring the fat heat up again until hot and a blue haze can be seen.

5. Plunge the potato strips in and cook until golden brown and puffed up.

6. Drain on absorbent paper, sprinkle with salt and serve with drinks.

I can barely peel a potato nicely with a paring knife or peeler, I'd probably go insane trying to do a spiral. There must be a way to modify a Benriner turning slicer to do this.

And there's the fact I used a skillet for my adventures with souffled potatoes. It always seemed you'd need a deeper vessel to do these, and that much hot oil around me = emergency room, most likely.

TheMatt

Learning just means you were wrong and they were right. - Aram

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OK, maybe I'll try Souffle, but I'll leave Chatouillard for another day. Souffle are certainly a more compelling reason to heat up the vat o' fat now and then. Then I'll have to learn how to put the used oil into my VW diesel.

Edited by mike k (log)
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and a blue haze can be seen.

Does the blue haze have anything to do with the drinks mentioned in step 6?

Seriously though, these sound great. I wonder if you could adjust the blad on one of those rotary apple peelers so that it would form these...a worthy experiment in my mind.

Brian Hoffmeyer

"It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."

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and a blue haze can be seen.

Does the blue haze have anything to do with the drinks mentioned in step 6?

Seriously though, these sound great. I wonder if you could adjust the blad on one of those rotary apple peelers so that it would form these...a worthy experiment in my mind.

In re the blue haze, I'll use my probe thermometer, thank you. Seems like if I see color changes in a vat of oil...time to run.

I've been thinking about it, and you'd think it'd be possible. Offset the Benriner's blade to 1/8", and turn. You might have to form the potato into a pretty good cylinder beforehand.

Of course, whenever I play with a rotary slicer, I put on that julienne blade and have fun with carrots. For some reason, I just love making tons of that carrot angel hair. Maybe it's the child in me longing for those Play-Doh extrusion playsets, but it never fails to amuse me.

TheMatt

Learning just means you were wrong and they were right. - Aram

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Got one (pommes souffle):

i11585.jpg

And I mean one. I tried a couple of tests - this one worked just fine and another half puffed so I felt pretty confident. The rest of 2 potatoes worth went into the fridge along with 4 potatoes worth of once-fried fries. None of the remaining souffles puffed at service. Didn't matter though, I liked the basic fries better anyway (thanks Holly). They were just right with a mikek philly cheesesteak - Lasater top sirloin on the grill, sliced super thin, with onions, gouda and cheddar on a french loaf. Mmmm.

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mike, yeah. The problem is usually getting the right age of potatoes. They can't be too young or old or the moisture/starch contents is way low. And who knows what high altitude can do to it. Fries are a lot more forgiving.

Of course, you can take my approach and do a 5# (or whatever size it was) bag of them. I can tell you, I learned how to do 1/8" slices on the mandolin that day.

TheMatt

Learning just means you were wrong and they were right. - Aram

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  • 1 month later...

Tooting Lance's horn for him - Icon Burger is on the front page of the current Boulder County Business Report. Two photos, nice story. You can see it on their website for probably the next two weeks. Here's a link directly to the article sans photos.

Lance, the story says you use organic beef - did the reporter mistake "natural" for "organic" or have you made a change since your postings here?

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We took my parents to Icon when they were in town since they wanted a burger and I didn't want to drag them to our suburban McDonald's hell.

Burger was better on this trip (the double was big-n-messy like a good burger should be, and they remembered all of the toppings) and the counter service was much improved. No change to the fries, and I wasn't bowled over by the onion rings either.

My mom was the only one at the table who enjoyed the fries, so there were obviously a lot of people like her in Icon's focus groups prior to opening. She also devoured her vanilla shake and loved her burger. (Keep in mind that my mom lives in a small town and is excited that I live within driving distance of both Super Target and Super Wal-Mart.) My dad doesn't like eating in restaurants since he is paranoid about germs, so I wasn't sure what to make of his shoulder-shrugging "review." (I'm fairly confident he would do the same thing at the French Laundry.) He did clean his plate except for an odd fry or two.

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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  • 4 weeks later...

The Yellow Scene has a review of Icon in their Oct 04 issue:

...Icon blends the sensibility of a ’50s diner with the sleekness of an urban eatery to craft an efficient, visually pleasing, and family-friendly space.

They seemed to like the place, although they said the grilled chicken sandwich is actually fried and "unremarkable," and the fries were referred to as being "medium-caliber."

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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...They seemed to like the place...

I'm not sure how reliable the Yellow Scene's reviewer is. I've got a friend who owns a restaurant in Lousiville (the Old Louisville Inn) and he was telling me that they only review places that advertise...

Brian Hoffmeyer

"It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."

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