The Shrone -Official Residence of the Unknowable Shrone
Published Thursday, September 8, 2011
My perpetual quest to find The Perfect Cheeseburger has increased my awareness of burger stand history. On occasion I've come upon some establishments with a rich history, like XXX Rootbeer. For awhile I've known about Beef Burger (aka Biff Burger) located in Greensboro, NC. Last week we had the inclination to pay a visit. The restaurant is one of the two remaining vestiges of the Biff Burger franchise that started in the 1950s. The chain began in Florida and had locations primarily in the southeast. (The website has a really great history section, so go read it!)
There are two distinguishing characteristics to the Biff Burger. One is the method of cooking the patty. They use a proprietary device called a roto-broiler. The other is their special sauce.
It is interesting to me that burgers in the PNW are often served up with a special sauce, secret sauce, or locally referred to as "goop". A true goop is mayonnaise-based with numerous ingredients. Outside of the PNW, the local burgers are typically served with the standard condiments--no goop to be found. However, as we've become more mobile, regional quirks are being shared and adapted. The popularity of the NYC Shake Shack burger that uses a very PNW style goop is evidence.
I would classify the special sauce used on the Biff Burger to be a truly unique southern "goop". The sauce is very much like the vinegar based barbecue sauces of eastern North Carolina. The surprise ingredient that gives the sauce a true signature is the ground ginger. Do not despair if you live nowhere near Greensboro, for the website provides the recipe for their signature special sauce!
The most basic burger is served with a patty dunked in the special sauce. The cheeseburger adds a slice of cheese. My first impression of the burger was that it strongly reminded me of Manwich sauce, but with some differences. The flavors of the sauce began as tomato-y, then the tang of vinegar, finishing with the pleasant, unexpected flavor of the ground ginger. The sauce is balanced so that no one flavor dominates. It stood on its own without additional toppings.
The dining area was kept pretty clean, though the walls were decorated with very antiquated signs. There was a space on one wall paying homage to the history of the restaurant. Any place that has been in business for 50 yrs and counting should be proud of their accomplishment!
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