February 22, 2012

Sketch Burger

One of A & I's favorite things to do is play hostess(es) to visitors- particularly ones not too familiar with Philadelphia.  It's so much fun to come up with a weekend itinerary of unique ways to see the city.  One of our cousins and her boyfriend came up for three days, and we decided to take them up to Fishtown for a fun Friday evening.  First stop: Sketch Burger.  This hole-in-the-wall burger joint makes up for its small size with a bright and playful atmosphere.  Painted neon green and decorated with Christmas lights on the outside, plastered with patrons (mostly burger oriented) artwork on the inside- complete with crayons, markers, and construction paper at each table.

While we admired the artwork, we also checked out the menu.  Staples include a variety of burgers (with your choice of toppings, sauces, and cheeses) and sandwiches (pulled pork and grilled chicken), as well as fries and shakes.  The specials menu added some variety to the mix.

My personal favorite artwork + the specials.
We started out with a couple orders of fries to split- the regular hand-cut belgian style ($3.50) and the special sweet potato fries ($4.00).  Each comes with a side of one sauce- our waitress suggested the chipotle and harissa aioli.  The fries came out relatively quickly, served in paper-lined cones with sauce "arms."  The sweet potato fries were definitely our favorites- huge chunks of crispy, ridged sweet potato which released a good deal of steam when the soft insides were exposed. Tossed in salt and pepper, these didn't need a sauce at all.  However, the harissa aioli was a HUGE hit at our table- creamy and spicy and highly addicting.

The belgian fries were a little less exciting- a smaller cut and subsequently a lot less crispy.  Good, but just get the sweet potato if they're offering them.

There was a pretty long wait at this point, which seemed weird since the place is so small and the menu is relatively straight-forward.  At the end of the meal I realized people were coming in pretty frequently to pick up to-go orders which made a little more sense.  While we waited, we created some masterpieces for the wall- I taped A's up next to where we were sitting.

When we finally did get our food, I dug into a standard sirloin beef burger ($6.95) with harissa aioli (free) and avocado ($1.50).  The egg-washed white bun was incredibly fluffy - easily squished to maximize a mouthful of all the components.  I really loved the shape of the burger itself - perfectly fitted to its bun, almost an inch tall, with a compactness that never threatened to crumble apart.

All burgers go to heaven?
Lettuce and tomato comes standard on the burger, but the avocado and aioli added a whole lot of creaminess- a perfect complement to the crispy meat.  The flavor combination was incredible- I don't eat burgers all that often so maybe I've just been deprived, but this thing hit the spot.  My one complaint was that the medium-rare was more like medium-well.  Fortunately it really had no bearing on the deliciousness of the sandwich as a whole.

I had to eat part of the half in order to hold it up.
A and I did our typical "trade 1/2 for 1/2" switcheroo, and I was excited to try out her pick- the special Thai red curry and coconut milk chicken burger with mango chutney ($7.95).  The extensive title made it sound a little more flavorful that it actually was.  The chicken patty itself was similar in density and size as its beefy counterpart- almost tricking me into thinking it was actually a whole piece of chicken.

The predominant flavor was a sweet chili sauce- not curry at all- as well as the double-sided slathering of a cloying fruit spread containing chunks of dried mango.  I personally didn't love the overly sweet flavor profile- especially after my umami bomb of a burger- but A loved it.

My cousin ordered the exact same thing as I did (a trend that continued over the course of the weekend.. we must be related!) but her boyfriend dressed up a burger with sauteed mushrooms and onions, a fried egg over medium, and American cheese.  This version tops out at $12- the toppings can add up quickly!  However, the thing was a beast and probably worth every cent.

Sketch has an extensive ice cream (regular and vegan) menu, but we were saving room for fire-roasted  s'mores at Frankford Hall and were plenty full from burgers and fries.  Classic American favorites done right.  Next time I'm ordering my burger super rare- with extra harissa aioli!

Sketch Burger
413 E. Girard Ave


  1. and now i'm craving a burger. thanks. :)

  2. those sweet potato fries certainly look larger than the last time i had them there!

  3. Brian- I actually went and looked at your post about Sketch when I was writing this one- your sweet potato fries looked pretty wimpy! Very strange...