Dining With Denise Neil

Biggins, Fizz and hotel restaurants big winners in burger battle

Siena Tuscan Steakhouse’s sous chef Leighton Merlau prepares burgers for the masses. The restaurant won the best gourmet burger award.
Siena Tuscan Steakhouse’s sous chef Leighton Merlau prepares burgers for the masses. The restaurant won the best gourmet burger award. The Wichita Eagle

Saturday was a burger blur for me.

I was one of four judges at the second Battle of the Burger, a fund-raising event for KETCH put on at Old Cowtown Museum.

Eight local restaurants were there, and each could enter burgers in three categories: traditional, gourmet and alternative. All cooked their burgers on-site on portable grills.

In about an hour, the judges sampled 17 different burgers and ranked them on originality, presentation and taste. When we were finished, we couldn’t move. We sampled bacon burgers, mushroom burgers and burgers topped with noodles. We tried a burger that was dressed with a tomato that was sliced thicker than the patty, a burger that was more blue cheese than beef, and a burger that substituted decadent hunks of fried cheese for the bun.

Burp.

When all our tallies were calculated, Siena Tuscan Steakhouse, the restaurant inside the Ambassador Hotel, won for the best gourmet burger. Harvest Kitchen/Bar, the restaurant inside the Hyatt, earned the Best Traditional burger title. And Emerson Biggins won for Best Alternative burger with a creation that layered a fried egg, a hunk of sausage and a sweet waffle. Biggins also won Best Burger of the Bash for the aforementioned hunk-o-tomato creation.

People’s Choice went to Fizz Burgers & Bottles for the second straight year.

Organizers achieved their goal of doubling attendance this year, too. Around 500 people turned out for the Saturday-afternoon event, which also included beer, desserts, a car show, live music and access to all the Old Cowtown buildings, which I’m sure still smell like grilling beef even today.

Click through my many photos of the event above.

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