The Beef Brother's $8.49 cheeseburger special could be another food court snoozer that satisfies your cravings but leaves your taste buds sulking.
It's also not Kobe. It's not a grass-fed, shade cooled, sung-lullabies-at-bedtime wonder burger. If anything, the burger at this stall in the Charles Center Plaza food court is ordinary.
So what's the attraction? For one thing, the fries.
Fresh cut, natural cut, Boardwalk — whatever you call skins-on, deep-fried, golden brown, slightly under-salted spuds served in a paper cup with a hint of cooking oil — that's the style. They're a recent addition to the Brothers' menu and they raise the food court bar high.
Ask for the burger special and name your cheese. Add bacon? No extra charge. Lettuce, tomato, pickle — all the usual suspects are available. You get a patty and whatever toppings you ordered in an exceptional Kaiser that tastes like it was made that morning, not bagged a week ago in Nebraska.
You get a serviceable burger, decent cheese, a solid layer of bacon. And somehow, all of it works together to create a taste somebody thought about, a sum greater than its parts. I suspect some of the appeal can be attributed to the setting. A juicy patty and fresh bread combination is unexpected in a food court. It's like bumping into a buddy in a room full of strangers.
If you find yourself near the Charles Center food court, hungry and short on time, Beef Brother's burger special might be a pleasant surprise. A big Styrofoam cup and your pick from a range of soft drinks rounds off the dish.
And if you're a fry fan, at least three portion sizes await you. They alone could make a satisfying lunch.
Be forewarned: You won't find this burger deal on the Beef Brother's carryout menu. They're picky about the beef patty and apparently it's not always available. So rather than be forced by circumstance to tell customers they can't get a menu choice, they announce the special on a small board near the order station, or on Twitter (@TheBeefBrothers).
Two years ago, Beef Brothers only operated a cart on Baltimore Street. Then they added a stall in the Charles Center Plaza "Eats" food court, a deli sandwich operation. This summer, they opened a stall across from their sandwich works. It allowed them to purvey fries, wings, ice cream and milk shakes.
They serve many deli favorites, including Nathan's hot dogs. Sports fans can talk shop with the counter guys while they wait for their orders. And a plethora of food court seating serves those who don't want to eat at their desks. Beef Brothers is street food with a roof over its head. It has certainly improved its neighborhood.
Where: 222 N. Charles St., Baltimore
Contact: 443-857-6328, thebeefbrothers.com
Lunch hours: 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday