All summer, as I drove by the Willow Grove Pointe shopping center, I kept a sharp eye on the construction in a corner storefront facing Moreland Road. Early on, the site promised an Elevation Burger, and when it opened a few weeks ago, this burger-loving-lady was eager to try it.
According to their website, the first Elevation Burger opened in 2005, fulfilling the dream of founder Hans Hess to provide discriminating consumers with organic burgers in a restaurant mindful of environmental issues.
Each franchised restaurant does extensive recycling, not only the materials the customers use and discard, but also by incorporating recycled and sustainable products inside the restaurant.
The ceiling tiles are composed of recycled materials, the tabletops are made of compressed sorghum, and the floors from bamboo. Impressive.
So, how is it? Well, in a word, on a Friday night: crowded.
Families, groups of teenagers, and couples formed a line that started near the door and wrapped around to the counter. The line moved quickly; the gal at the register was patient and thorough, while the large staff behind her bustled around like busy bees in a hive.
The menu was simple (burger, veggie burger, other veggie burger, or grilled cheese) so decision making was easy and more about quantity - you can get up to 10 patties on one bun if you want. After deciding and paying, we found a table and waited for our name to be called.
The milkshake came out first ($3.99.) Thick and rich but not too sweet, the strawberry flavor was imparted by the chunks of the fruit swirled within. The only size available was quite large, and although we shared it amongst the four of us, we couldn’t finish it.
Eventually our name was called and we picked up the rest of our order, loaded onto a single metallic tray.
The mission of Elevation Burger, with all its environmental measures, while noble, denies the diner a plate. We spread thin brown napkins on the table and laid our burgers down on these between bites.
The menu claims burgers made from 100-percent certified organic beef from grass-fed free-range cows. The meat is ground at the restaurant, rather than arriving in the truck that way, and the burgers are quite tasty.
The "Elevation Burger" ($5.29) was composed of two beef patties, cheddar cheese, tomato slices, iceburg lettuce, lengthy strips of pickle, and Elevation Sauce. After a huge bite, and a napkin swipe to my cheeks, I was hooked.
Although I overheard a man behind me saying that the Elevation Sauce tasted “nothing like Russian dressing,” I think there are absolute similarities between the two condiments, but the Elevation Sauce is no worse for the comparison.
The "Half the Guilt Burger" ($5.99) stacked one beef patty on top of one veggie burger patty. I was given a choice between “Veggie Burger #1” which was described as having a smoky cheesy taste, and “Veggie Burger #2” which was described as tasting “more vegan.”
I chose #1, and the decision was easy. While the extreme vegetarian movement of ingredient denial has come a long way in recent years, does anyone, including vegans, actually want things to taste “more vegan?!”
I topped the burger with caramelized onions, pickles and the Elevation Sauce. While the veggie burger was tasty on its own, I was pleasantly surprised that the smaller beef patty dominated the flavor of the entire sandwich.
The Grilled Cheese was little, pleasantly greasy on grilled white bread, and gooey with sharp cheddar cheese ($2.99.) This sandwich can be topped by any of the additions available on the burgers, like lettuce, tomato, raw or caramelized onions, pickles, balsamic mustard, or hot pepper relish. Although tempted to add a few toppings, we kept it simple for the kids.
The fresh cut fries ($2.79) were made from whole potatoes forced through a cutting contraption behind the counter seconds before their swim in 100-percent olive oil. Skins still on, thin, floppy, and sublimely salty, they were incredible even before the requisite dip into ketchup. The serving is huge, and two paper baskets were more than enough for the four of us.
Upscale burger joints are blossoming all around our area, so Elevation Burger is in direct competition with , Five Guys, Good Burger, and the new Boardwalk Burgers and Fries (opening in the shopping center on County Line and Davisville Roads.)
But Elevation Burger’s ability to keep prices reasonable without sacrificing taste or their commitment to sustainability and low carbon footprint may give them an edge with the environmentally-minded consumer.
Elevation Burger earns 3 1/2 out of 5 Whisks for the forward thinking business plan and quite possibly the best fries in town.
Second Helping of Information
Location – 3945 Welsh Road, Willow Grove, PA 19090
Hours – Sunday through Thursday: 11am – 9pm; Friday and Saturday: 11am – 10pm
Phone – 215-659-1008
Website – http://www.elevationburger.com
Reservations – Not available
On the Kids Menu – Grilled cheese or single patty burgers, super cute little highchairs available