During the last few years before Covid drove us from the office, several work-mates and I had a nice routine of getting hamburgers for lunch from one of several places that were either a short walk from our Center City (Philadelphia) office or close enough to deliver. They all had very good burgers, including a nearby Shake Shack and the Reading Terminal Market’s Hunger Burger. But my favorite of the lot was M2O Burgers & Salads.
Our orders were delivered from M2O’s original location, which is in the Queen Village section of South Philadelphia. They now have four additional spots, including one in East Norriton, a western suburb in Philadelphia. I had to drive relatively close to there today on the way to visit my father and decided to make the short detour to see if the burgers are as good as I remember.
The M2O burgers I used to eat in those pre-Covid days passed what I call the ‘Louis Test’ with flying colors. That’s a reference to a friend of mine named Louis who is extremely particular about hamburgers. For him to like one, it has to stand up on just the quality and taste of its ground beef. He doesn’t put anything on them. He just wants to taste the beef, and he knows what he’s looking for when he does so.
I don’t know what cuts of beef that they grind for their burgers at M2O, but its flavor was sensational. It actually had what tasted to me like a hint of sweetness. I get that sense sometimes when I’m eating a hamburger made with excellent beef. It’s like a mark of quality for me. I was looking forward to experiencing that sensation for the first time in a while today.
Some of you may have noticed that I get excited about places that have been around for many years and look it; or that at least are able to give off the impression of having been around for years. A classic look means a lot to me. I call it ‘roadfood charm,’ and they don’t have any of it at M2O. The place is about as 21st century as it gets. They don’t even take orders. You have to punch them in yourself on one of their computers if you haven’t already placed an order on your phone.
I went for a double-cheeseburger with Cheddar cheese, raw onion and pickles and added ketchup at my table.
To wash it down, I turned to their self-serve soda fountain. It didn’t have name brands, but it did include birch beer, which I seem to be drinking a lot of lately.
The burger was cooked to order and ready in about 10 minutes. The two patties combined with the onion and pickles made for a tall and attractive stack on a fresh potato bun.
They must use high quality meat, as I thought it was overcooked, yet it still oozed juice with every bite. It also had more of a flame-broiled taste than I remembered. I’m not certain it was flame broiled, but it didn’t taste like most burgers that are cooked on a flat-top grill. It also didn’t have that ‘sweetness’ I so fondly recall from the burgers that were delivered from their Queen Village outlet. Yet it was still a quality burger.
I would have to assume that since all of M2O’s locations are in the Philly region, they are all using the same beef. They could have switched suppliers or cuts since early 2020; or perhaps I’m just imagining things. It has been a fairly long time since I’ve had one of their burgers, afterall.
In any case, all of the ingredients were fresh and of good quality. It just didn’t excite me to the extent that my past M2O burgers did. In short, it didn’t quite pass the Louis test. If I ever get a hankering, I may go to the original location to see if there is any difference.
I resisted ordering a shake at M2O because I had plans to make one at home later that night. After peach and banana shakes and a vanilla malt in recent months, I returned to a longtime favorite; the black and white malt.
Although I’ve made a ton of these over the years, I felt a little uncertain about this one because I was trying out a new chocolate syrup – Hershey’s Simply 5. I bought it because they didn’t have my usual brand – Fox’s U-Bet – in stock at our local supermarket.
The reason for my uncertainty is that I first used the new syrup earlier this week for chocolate milk and didn’t like the flavor at all. But I hoped that the addition of vanilla-flavored syrup, malt powder and a lot of vanilla ice cream would add enough extra sweetness to overcome any unpleasant taste from the chocolate syrup. I also used less of the Hershey’s than I would have if I had the Fox’s in stock.
My hope for the chocolate syrup came to fruition. Whatever I found unpleasant about it in the chocolate milk wasn’t present in the malt.
While I wouldn’t put this up there with the best black and white malts I’ve made because of the chocolate syrup situation, it was still extremely thick and tasted great.
The new shake maker has worked beautifully so far. It had been a fairly long time since I was getting milkshakes and malts that were as thick as this one, at least in part because the lower of the two settings on the old machine stopped working at some point. So I had to use the high setting from start to finish. That’s not my preference.
Although I’ve been excited to eat other things that I ignored for the most part over the past year, I’m starting to get the itch to eat another cheesesteak. Someone on Facebook gave a strong recommendation for one in the northern suburbs that I intend to get to in the next week or two at the most. I’ve also drawn up a a long list of other places to try that I’ll be slowly working my way through.