PYT, Not Your Parents’ Burger Joint

The carnivorous members of PFF ventured into North Philly to find what we hoped to be a truly delicious handcrafted specialty hamburger. We did not want a simple burger and fries: a piece of cheese and a slice of lettuce would not work to satisfy me. I was in search of a nice, thick, juicy burger piled so high with toppings of all types that I needed to tie a string around it Scooby Doo-style so that it would fit my mouth. I wanted to struggle to pick it. When I bit into it, I wanted to feel the bun caress my cheeks leaving behind a warm trail of grease as a waterfall of juice and sauce cascaded from the other side. I was not disappointed.

The restaurant itself sits within an enclosed European-style piazza. The are storefronts all around with apartments above. It is a peaceful little part of the world I did not expect to find based on the area surrounding it. Before we walked in, I could tell from the ten-foot-wide beanbag chairs that this was no Johnny Rockets. The bar is the first thing I saw as we walked inside, and the first thing I heard was a customer order the adult milkshake. My surprise was primarily the existence of the adult milkshake; secondly, I was wondering why someone had ordered one at 1 in the afternoon.

My age restricts me from reporting on the adult milkshakes, but I chose to at least get a normal shake. They have a selection of the typical flavors with optional flavor shots. I chose the chocolate milkshake with peanut-butter; the girls split a strawberry. The consistency of the blend was astounding. There was no issue of slurping up the melted stuff, leaving just a mound that must be poked at and stirred before swallowed. No matter how long it sat at the table, it always remained the same consistency throughout. Unfortunately, if you enjoy a thicker milkshake like myself, this may prove to be upsetting. Though clearly a shake, it was certainly on the thinner side.

My first look at the menu filled me with wonder. The burger selection comprised multiple pages. There were combinations of which I would have never thought. Under the guidance of our waitress, I decided upon the Fat Boy Monster, a double burger with thick cut bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, three fresh cut jumbo onion rings, caramelized onions, and a special sauce served medium on a Martin potato bun.

It was the delicious mess for which I had hoped. Every ingredient made its own contribution, leading to a flavor blast that left me wanting more well after I finished the behemoth morsel. It is nearly impossible to compare solely on the patty since all the other flavors made distinguishing one difficult; however, I can at least determine it was prepared just as I hoped. The Martin roll was an excellent choice for this burger. With mountain-high burgers, the bun can add more difficulty in attempting to wrap one’s mouth around it. Martin potato rolls are light and always fresh; there is a thin, soft crust allowing no hindrance as the bite it taken. This reduces the mess that can otherwise occur with harder buns, which squeeze the ingredients away from your mouth as you bite down.

As with any good burger, PYT serves their selection with a side of fries, or giant onion rings for an extra dollar. I scarfed down my fries as soon as the plate was put in front of me, although I did not spend too much time savoring them. I was able to tell the fries fell far below the quality of the treat next to which they laid. They had a crispy coating, but the cut was too thin to warrant it. Just the taste of the crispy outer layer could be tasted. (Although if you read the Amuse entry, I would take PYT’s fries any day.) I had the chance to try Nicole’s onion rings. They looked wonderful and tasted amazing as a topping on a burger; however, by themselves, it was a different story. They retained a clear taste of fresh onion. I cannot say whether there was too much crunch coming from the onion itself or simply not enough from the crust. If you seek that onion ring that preserves the natural taste of the onion while still lending the delicious taste of breading and fat from the deep fryer, I would recommend you try these. If you prefer a nice thick coating and a near limp onion on the inside, you may choose to avoid these. If asked, I would choose the onion rings over the fries. Though not to my ideal taste, the onion rings are well prepared; however, I see no hope for the fries. When I return, the burger is all I need.

There will be a return trip. There are many burger combinations to try. If you want a plain burger, perhaps you should look elsewhere. If you want twisted concoctions blending all five flavors into one bite (and perhaps a sip), this is the place to try. Though not everything was a home run, the selection leaves me interested in returning: ★★★1/2 for me.

Nicole had slightly different feelings about the experience. She wrote:
“For my PYT meal, I shared a strawberry shake ($5) with Qingxin and indulged in “The Lobster Burger” ($14). This “Hall of Fame Burger” was described as “lobster drizzled with white truffle oil, grilled and placed on a half-pound PYT beef patty. Served on a fresh egg-washed roll from nearby Kaplan’s Bakery with truffle aioli and Old Bay fries on the side.” I substituted the fries for onion rings ($1 upgrade), as the heaping platter of rings I saw served at an adjacent table looked phenomenal!

Service was pretty slow. It took a while for just our shakes to arrive at the table. The colorful rainbow sprinkles that dressed up the whipped cream dollop on top was a nice touch. Unfortunately, the shake was too thin for my liking. I want a shake that’s thick and full-bodied, not something as liquidy as water. I didn’t see any chunks of strawberry in there either (a must-have in a real strawberry shake!). Qingxin said she had a large strawberry piece in her glass, so maybe it was just mine… either way, I wish it was thicker. The taste wasn’t bad, it just didn’t wow me. Jack in the Box is so much better.

When my burger arrived, there indeed was a generous portion of lobster resting atop the patty. Yet, it didn’t have much of a prominent taste. It would have been nice if they had seasoned it better (i.e. more buttery). The patty also didn’t seem like half a pound to me; perhaps it was more “squat” than “spread out.” However, the meat was probably the saving point of the meal. It exuded great beef flavor. I was disappointed that the roll didn’t harmonize well with the rest of the burger; it felt very “detached” in terms of texture and taste. I found the burger as a whole to be very dry (probably in part to the roll) and wished they had extra truffle aioli on the side for dipping (I should have asked).

With regards to the onion rings, appearances can be deceiving. They were much greasier than I thought they would be. The coating was thin and didn’t adhere well to the onion. Not good. Additionally, a measly portion was served as a side. Only 5 onion rings? Seriously?

Overall, ★★★. PYT is pretty average. However, what mainly draws me are their other crazy creations… who could resist a Korean BBQ Short Rib Burger (“a half-pound 100% short rib burger blend marinated in Korean BBQ sauce; topped with kimchi and Asian spicy mayo”) or a Banh Mi Burger (“a 5 oz. beef patty with chicken pate, carrot and daikon slaw, jalapenos, cilantro and a chili-lime mayonnaise on a Vietnamese baguette”)? Yet since PYT is pretty out of the way, I think I’ll stick with the excellent BBP (Bobby’s Burger Palace) on campus.

As for Qingxin, she explains it simply:
“Shake: The shake was extremely smooth and milky, which I enjoyed. There was only one strawberry piece in it, but I didn’t mind. It wasn’t that sweet, and it wasn’t too heavy. Would definitely order again.
Burger (the fried pickles one): The burger was okay. The whiskey sauce was very sweet, which I was not expecting, and the meat itself was also only okay. It wasn’t salty enough for my taste. It was my first time having fried pickles, and it just tasted like pickles with soggy chips on top–not too appetizing. Would not order again.
(To all readers keep in mind, in all my meals with her, only once did Qingxin not comment on the inadequate amount of salt in her food. That one time she complained it was to much.)”
Overall, she gave it ★★★.

PYT ★★★
1050 North Hancock Street
PYT on Urbanspoon