This is another of what I hope will be frequent departures from my usual review of barbecue joints throughout New England and New York. My first love was and always will be the burger, in all its forms.
On Hampshire Street not too far from Kendall Square, Inman Square and Massachusetts Avenue, Lord Hobo is just far enough away from all three to be more of a local hang than a foodie destination. Unusual artwork on maroon walls gives the place a funky look. The bar is the main focus but the menu is compelling.
At first glance, it looked like brioche, but it turned out to be a faux brioche with more of a whitebread feel and taste under the golden crust. It's lightly toasted and served open faced to display the burger toppings.
The meat itself was fairly ordinary, basically your everyday ground chuck. When the high end burger landscape features exotic blends of brisket, shin, shortrib, skirt steak, flap meat, aged meat, nose meat and anything short of rhino horns, your everyday ground chuck can pale by comparison. And that's the case here, at least as far as the raw material is concerned. But that's only half the story. The good news in that the patty was thick, reasonably well seasoned, cooked perfectly to the requested medium rare, gentle to the bite and quite juicy.
Lettuce, tomato and onion were fairly standard and looked like they could have come from any takeout salad from a convenience store. I did like that the greens were green and leafy, a nice break from the typical iceberg lettuce. But the star of the toppings was the cheese.
The beef might not have been aged, but the cheddar was. For me, the cheese was the highlight of an already good burger, and I’m not a big cheese guy. What I found so appealing was the generously thick, melty, almost curdy texture that had a little grit, a little saltiness and a lot of sharpness.
Hand-cut, skin-on, unabashedly salted and as brown as you can get while still appealing, these also impressed. The contrast of crispy exterior and soft, chewy interior is what I seek in good fries, and Lord Hobo hit that.
The Bottom Line
All around, a very good burger possibly held back by its ordinary blend, keeping it in my second tier for Boston. Solid execution and very impressive cheese and fries place it at the head of that second tier.
Boston Globe review of Lord Hobo
Yelp reviews of Lord Hobo
Urbanspoon reviews of Lord Hobo