By Mike Thayer
This challenge started before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the stay-at-home order and resulting changes in business operations caused a delay in reviews. But now that it looks like things are getting back on track to some sense of normal, the reviews can continue.
I recently completed a pizza challenge, sampling 18 local/regional pizza joints and finding the 10 best in the Wichita area.
It's time for a new challenge: Burgers
Who makes the best burger in the Wichita metro area? I'm going to find out, sampling all the local/regional burger joints to see who crafts the best burger.
During the course of this challenge I'll be sampling classic cheeseburgers, straight forward beef and cheese goodness with the typical toppings. The way I see it, if you can't put together a classic cheeseburger and do it well, then there's no reason to sample a burger joint's other burger options. So there will be no mushroom & Swiss, no on BBQ & onion strings, no on jalapeno & pepper jack cheese, etc., versions of burgers
Being evaluated on a point system scorecard will be a plethora of categories that includes but is not limited to the appearance, meat, bun, meat to bun ratio, how the burger is dressed (that means the assortment of veggies, sauce and/or condiments for those of you who live in Valley Center), service, time to order and more. Weighing most heavily in the score of course, is TASTE and depending on the size of the patty, I could be sampling a single or a double, there's a quarter pound minimum. After scoring the burger, the point total is then broken down into a star system, 1-5, with 5 stars being a top rating. I'll post all the numbers for each burger joint and their offerings in the final report.
No national chains will be included in this challenge, no Five Guys, no Red Robin, no BurgerFi, no Freddy's, etc.... Only the local, regional burger joints qualify. Besides, when it comes to burgers, McDonald's is most everybody's last resort, Wendy's is nothing extra special with their square patties and Burger King, well, isn't a king at all.
Today's Burger Challenge is a review of Chicken N Pickle. What, getting a burger at a chicken place? Yep.
Chicken N Pickle is a regional restaurant with locations in Wichita, the Kansas City Area, Oklahoma City and San Antonio. The joint is located in the Plazzio Center on 13th & Greenwich in Wichita. The draw for this place is all the entertainment to compliment the fast casual dining. It's a complex of games. They have 10 pickleball courts (6 indoor and 4 outdoor) - hence the pickle in the name, 2 bocce ball courts, 4 shuffleboard courts, a bar and entertainment space, outdoor lawn games like Jenga and Corn Hole and a game room with ping pong and TV screens to watch the game of the day. Chicken N Pickle is the seventh tasting in this challenge of 28 burger joints to review.
I sauntered into the complex about 12pm on a Saturday, with stay-at-home restrictions getting lifted, the place was fairly busy yet not at all crowded, with a lot of families taking advantage of the pickelball courts.
Having already checked out their menu online - and they only have one BEEF burger on the menu - I went with the what they call the Flat Burger, a 6 ounce patty of grass-fed GNFF beef, topped with aged cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup and mustard. The burger is a unique three meat blend ground in house consisting of Chuck, Brisket, & Round.
This is the best burger I've had so far on this challenge. Granted, I've only visited seven places, but still, that's saying something. First off, the burger was THICK! The beef was seasoned perfectly, the three meat blend patty was juicy, there was a great burger to bun ratio - did I mention the burger was THICK!? The egg bun itself was pillow soft yet held up to all the weight of that beef and the toppings. The cheddar was a nice compliment, although given the size of the patty a slice of American along with the cheddar would have been a nice add. The grilled onions are a classic compliment to the way burgers are typically prepared in the Midwest, the veggies were fresh and the sandwich was dressed just right, not overly sauced, not under sauced either. I didn't want to put this burger down! Ordered with tots on the side, I quickly vanquished the burger with no regrets. The tots were tasty too, fried perfectly giving you that perfect crunch and generously portioned.
Costing me $12.50 + tax for the burger and tots (no drink), Chicken N Pickle is pricey, but it is a damn good burger and yes, it's made in a chicken joint. Despite the six ounce THICK patty of goodness however, It's not a repeat buy at that price, especially when you can get it for $6 on Burger Monday (pay another $1 for a side). Scoring 58 points out of a possible 63, (the best score so far in this challenge) Chicken N Pickle and their Flat Burger gets 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. Get it on Burger Monday for $6 - what a deal!
Located at 1240 N Greenwich Rd, Wichita, KS 67206, the service was polite, courteous and professional, but not exactly conversational. I was in and out with my carry out order in less than five minutes, despite being presented with a dine in burger.