James Beard Blended Burgers in Brevard County

(2019 Update)– Blended burgers are taking over Brevard County thanks to the James Beard Foundation! Last year four local restaurants entered a blended burger in the competition. Now for 2019, there are eleven places on the Space Coast with their own blended burger! Here are the entries:

Cedar’s Cafe – “The Fall into Blending Burger: Lamb & Beef tenderloin blended with 35% Florida Grown Monterey Mushroom patty, topped with a Horseradish Roaster Beet Goatcheese, a Tarragon Mushroom Mustard Sauce, lettuce on a butter grilled Brioche Bun lightly dusted with fresh course ground pepper & Pink Salt.”

The Bearded Chef – “Pho-Real: The amalgamation of soup and sandwich. An umami-bomb beef/pork-blend patty with smoke-roasted Florida grown Monterey crimini mushrooms, charred ginger and green onions, spiced with our ‘pho king’ blend, topped with mushroom-chive jack cheese, red onions, burger aioli made with sriracha-style sauce and mushroom hoisin, finished with our pickled shiitake and serrano, and micro herb salad.”

Playalinda Brewing Co. Brix Project – Inspired by Cubans migration to Florida in the 1870’s as dockworkers, working side by side with Italians, Germans, and Spaniards. Viva Ybor! features soppressata seasoned beef, pork and cremini mushroom blended patty, swiss, cured sweet ham, mojo pork pernile, English mustard, and house-made mustard pickles on fresh Cuban bread.

28 North Gastropub – “Short Rib and brisket Blended with 30% dry roasted Monterey cremini mushrooms, crispy mushroom straws, Truffled gouda, smoked mushroom duxelles, chive aioli, on a brioche bun.”

North by South Bistro – “Portobello and ground beef topped with fresh cucumbers, fried onions, roasted red bell peppers and goat cheese”

Darci’s Bacon Blues – “Sweet & Sassy: Ground chuck, blended with Florida grown Monterey Mushrooms, Cherries, topped with Arugula, Brie, Jalapeno Bacon, with a spicy Cherry Ketchup on a Brioche Bun.”

Ember and Oak – “The Forager: A delicious blend of short rib, brisket & wild morel mushrooms served on a fresh brioche bun that’s toasted in chanterelle butter and topped with: *Wood oven charred ramp, grilled lemon & green garlic aioli *Confit wild foraged mushrooms tossed in a bone marrow & veal bordelaise *Pickled ramp bulbs *Baby arugula dressed in a citrus-truffle vinaigrette *And topped with a delicious raclette cheese sauce Served with house cut garlic & herb fries, chipotle ketchup, and house pickles for $25!”

Nomad Cafe – “A doner kebab inspired burger with house smoked oyster mushrooms from Okeechobee Florida, blended with lamb and ground beef. Topped with halloumi cheese, harissa aioli, quick pickled shaved watermelon and onions, green leaf lettuce, and tomato on Brioche.”

Coaster’s Taphouse – “Hen of the Wagyu burger: uses ground Wagyu beef, blended with locally-sourced, organic ‘Hen of the Woods’ Mushrooms, topped with blue cheese, thinly-sliced prosciutto, fig aioli and roasted red pepper.”

Pompano Grill – “The Psychedelic Phish Burger: A blend of Local Florida Caught Cobia, Scottish Salmon and roasted crimini mushrooms, hoisin sauce, ginger, and garlic, coated in a tuxedo sesame and panko crust, topped with sweet soy mayo, pickled shitake mushrooms and cucumber with arugula on a porcini mushroom dusted brioche bun.”

The Snug Pub – “Mushroom impossible: a blend of 30% Florida-grown Monterey mushrooms and 70% Impossible plant based protein burger on a grilled porcini mushroom buttered ciabatta bun topped with edam cheese, portobello mushroom, sriracha marinated tomatoes, red onions, sprouts and crispy enoki. Dressed with a spicy parsley relish and avocado créme.”

I am very excited that Cedar’s Cafe has inspired other Space Coast restaurants to enter this year’s James Beard Foundation Blended Burger Project. This competition encourages restaurants all over the nation to create a burger that has mushrooms account for at least 25% of the protein.

A patty made with this slight reduction in meat is healthier, more sustainable and this contest proves it can taste even better too!

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Cedar’s Cafe came in first place in 2016 for their innovative goat cheese, bacon, avocado and banana pepper mustard burger and then second place in 2017 for a brie, basil, walnut relish and sour cherry mustard burger.

Now for the first time three other restaurants in the area have decided to give them a run for their money and prove that this county has the culinary chops to make a delicious meat and mushroom burger. You can try them all on the Fourth of July at the Brix Project where they are having a Blended Burgers and Brews Bash.

I have other plans on the fourth, but my goal is to try all four before voting ends on July 31st. I stopped by the Brix Project a couple weeks ago to give theirs a try.

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Playalinda Brewing Co.’s the Brix Project restaurant is already a favorite of mine and Andrew’s, so we had high expectations for their burger entry. It is described as:

“Bison blended with 30% enoki mushrooms. Topped with Stilton Bleu Cheese, baby micro arugula, cinnamon chipotle pork belly, and a shiitake black bean chili mole, on a lemon vanilla brioche bun. On the side is coco beer battered enoki mushroom straws and sukiyaki mushroom ketchup.”

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I have never even imagined a burger with this many unique toppings! I love pork belly, blue cheese and enoki mushrooms, but I was a bit skeptical of the bison mixed with all this as well as the lemon vanilla bun. We knew we had to try it though!

At the restaurant, they made a big deal of bringing it out on a large cutting board. It was masterfully plated with a knife through the burger alongside truffle fries and the mushroom ketchup artfully smeared. I love how all these restaurants competing have added an element of show to the experience-they are really trying to win!

Andrew and I split it because neither of us could imagine eating an entire one alone. However, we definitely could have ate more than half because it was really good!

Brevard County's Blended Burgers

I was very surprised at how much I liked this burger. There are so many flavors going on, but they really compliment each other. The mushrooms were my favorite part with the earthy flavor they added alongside the sharp cheese and sweet bun.

And even more shocking was that my least favorite aspect was the pork belly. It was almost too much with it and just made the burger messier. Cutting it in half did make it a lot easier to devour. And then the truffle fries just elevated this meal, as they were super garlicky and rich.

As usual, another great culinary creation from Playalinda Brewing Co. – The Brix Project!

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We also went to Cedar’s Cafe recently as they celebrated Burger Week, where they have a special menu to promote their entry in the competition. They have done this for a week in June for the past few years and I was glad we could make it this time.

I wanted to try their entry, but since they will be serving that through July, I opted to create my own burger, which was only offered during Burger Week. After this experience, I urge everyone to make it to Burger Week next year because it was one of the best meals I have ever had!

I will be sure to let everyone know the date next year!

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The best thing about Burger Week is that there are so many amazing ways to customize your burger. I actually counted and they have 74 different topping options as well 9 different bun options and 10 different patty options!!

From grilled avocado to pomegranate ketchup to a krispy keme bun, the options are really endless The homemade mustard and ketchup choices are the best part. Here are pictures of both sides of the menu so you can see all the options.

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I went for the blended beef and mushroom patty on a pretzel bun, with garlic mustard, grilled tomato, grilled avocado, red onion, crispy garlic and banana peppers. This came along with a salad and some thick cut fries.

The meal ended up being out of this world, as all the toppings were perfectly executed and the blended burger made it. I actually had wanted to add mushrooms as a topping, but thought it would be too much mushroom, however half way through eating I forgot I was eating a blended burger.

For all those “Ron Swansons” out there thinking beef is best, it really is possible to make an even better burger without 100% meat.

Brevard County's Blended Burgers

My family all got similar variations of mine. Andrew’s also was on a pretzel bun, but he added brie and cheery mustard, which made for a delicious touch of sweet. My Dad got a lamb blended burger on a pita for a more greek variety and added the winning banana pepper mustard which was just the right amount of sour and spicy.

My sister was the daring one as she ordered her burger on a Krispy Kreme donut with a fried egg on top.

This was a fun take on an unhealthy breakfast, but worth every calorie. I was a bit put off by the donut as a bun, but I tried it and was amazed!

Brevard County's Blended Burgers

I still need to go back and try their masterpiece they submitted this year. The “Into the Woods” burger includes:

“Blended 30% Florida Grown Monterey Mushroom, mild Harissa & cardamom spices lamb bison patty /house-made blackberry mustard /toasted almond oats mushroom-white chocolate blackberry granola /blue cheese /charred mushroom powdered dusted red onion /arugula”

Pretty crazy sounding, but I have faith that they know what they are doing and can most likely take home the prize again! There are two more Brevard County entries as well, so I really have to get out and start trying these before the end of the month.

Pizza Gallery and Grill’s Burger includes:

Dry roasted Monterrey cremini and oyster mushrooms blended with chuck and sirloin, topped with smoked Gouda, white peach mostarda, parsnip aioli, and crispy guanciale”

I have to admit that I do not even know with some of those ingredients are, but I still want to try it!

And then a new Food Truck in the area, The Bearded Chef, has also entered the following:

“An umami bomb Thai burger made from Florida Grown Monterey Mushrooms blended with beef and pork, spiked with ginger, lemongrass, cilantro, and birds eye chili, with a spicy Thai ketchup, pickled enoki mayo with mushroom cured egg yolks, and smoked maitake bacon, on a toasted mushroom dusted brioche.”

Brevard County's Blended Burgers

For a less urban county like Brevard, I am very impressed with these local restaurants entering such a prestigious contest with such innovative food. I will update this post after I try each one to give my take. Let me know if you get a chance to try any and which one you plan to vote for!