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B&B Junction 

Red meat (and more) for the beer-and-burger crowd

The crossroads of Craft Beer and Craft Burgers is a heavily trafficked intersection these days, with all signs pointing to further congestion. The better-burger trend is burgeoning here, as it has in other major cities, but Winter Park's B&B Junction is approaching the fray in a cautious, prudent and intentional fashion. For one, they play up the farm-to-table angle, and play it up well: beer from Orlando Brewing and Cigar City Brewing; grass-fed beef from Nine's Mine Ranch in St. Cloud; produce from Eustis and Ruskin. Second, they're in the spot where one of the most popular eateries in all of Central Florida once stood – 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Last, they go beyond their base by wisely offering "alternative burgers": two each of pulled pork, turkey, chicken, vegetarian and bison varieties.

But does it all add up to a better burger? Like anything else, the answer comes down to individual taste. The patties here, just like the patties at, say, Pine 22 and BurgerFi, are fashioned from locally grass-fed cows, but when variables such as cut, grind, fat content, bread and toppings are added to the equation, results can be as varied as the reactions they invoke. I won't even delve into the grass-fed versus grain-fed debate here – for what it's worth, dear reader, I like the burgers served at B&B Junction. A caveat: When you're asked if you like your burger "pink" or "no pink," do yourself a favor and opt for the former. I certainly don't mind certain burgers cooked medium or even medium-well, but here the hand-formed, solidly packed patties tended to lose some juice in our experiments with "no pink" orders.

OK, on to the burgers. The stellar No. 6 ($9), with its infernal mix of ghost-pepper cheese, roasted poblano-bacon relish and sriracha aioli, will make you see stars. It's hellacious, and the brioche bun held up nicely. All beef burgers come in hefty 6-ounce patties, though there is the option to upgrade to a 10-ouncer for an additional $3. I did just that on another occasion with the No. 8 ($11.50), a protein-packed sandwich highlighted with what was supposed to be an over-easy fried egg. Unfortunately, the egg was over hard, lending to rubbery interspersions in between bites, even with a lush spread of roasted tomato chutney, guac and cilantro sour cream. From the list of alternative burgers, the No. 13 ($9.50), a bison burger with a relatively unadulterated crown of tomato, onion, pickle and butter lettuce, was delicately flavored and juicy when ordered "pink," and quite the opposite when ordered "no pink."

For an extra $2, we sampled ho-hum fries of the sweet potato and sea-salt-and-pepper variety. While a tad oily, the thinly sliced buttermilk onion rings fared much better. As starters, both the turkey chili ($5) with white beans and the crisp grilled bourbon-barbecue whole wings ($7 for four) had us slurping and gnawing happily.

"B&B," in case you haven't figured it out, is a reference to "Burgers & Beer," and there's a good selection of the latter, including six frequently changing brews on tap, for you to enjoy in their outdoor patio. We savored Terrapin's chocolate milk stout ($5), but we thoroughly indulged in the bread pudding brioche ($5) with bacon-maple toffee – so much so that we felt there was room for another "B" in the logo. Like their burgers and beer, the bread pudding was done to the letter.

B&B Junction

2103 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
407-513-4134
bbjunction.com

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