|For a few months now Buffa's has been one of the "competitors" in something popular New Orleans-themed web site Nola Defender called "The Burger Brawl." 16 local restaurants were chosen, both new-comers and been-around-forever joints like Port of Call and Buffa's. But who is the winner? And are the losers really losers?|
|First, let's make one thing clear: we love Nola Defender. It's a classy web site that makes a great attempt at providing a fair and balanced look at what is happening in and around New Orleans. They provide an excellent mix of news, opinion, feature articles, and entertainment listings. It's a great site and we recommend you bookmark it and look at it daily.|
The idea of a contest for who has the best of any particular kind of food is not a new one. And Nola Defender did a great service to all the "contestants" in The Burger Brawl by giving all of them some great publicity. This type of contest draws more attention to its participants than one-off reviews could ever do. It helps keep all the establishments front-most in the mind of the readers for the length of the contest. So from that particular perspective, the Burger Brawl did what it was supposed to do and was a success.
But what about declaring a winner?
The process they used to determine winners in each round was entirely subjective, and, at the end of the day, that type of "winner take all" mentality can only serve to polarize the readers of Nola Defender. Once you get to that final round, you either agree with the choices or you don't, or you feel shunned because your favorite place didn't make it to the final round.
Technically, they had problems from the start. The first round went well enough, but when they went to the second round they found the software used to tally the votes didn't allow anyone who voted in round one to vote again. So they changed poll providers and ran round two again. The only problem here is that the new polling software used cookies, which means you if you could find and delete the appropriate cookie, you could vote as many times as you wanted. (Which means you can't really have confidence in the results.)
Another problem was the match ups themselves. There really isn't a "right" way to do this, but clearly, Port of Call (who was eliminated in the first round) provides a way better burger experience than Krystal, but they were eliminated in the first round! So the second mistake is one of the respective burger joint's fan base. Chain operations like Krystal and New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood have more employees than the rest of the places have regulars, making it difficult for someone like Port of Call to compete fairly with Krystal (or for Buffa's to compete fairly with New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood). This inequity is especially hurtful to newcomers like Juicy Lucy's or Company Burger, who have not had time to establish a solid fan base.
Which brings us to the most important point of all: no matter what, at the end of the day, it is still all subjective: the "best" burger is subject very much to the opinion of he or she eating it. Perhaps the contest could have been refined a bit to include classes of burger joints: Chain restaurants, Gourmet Burgers, Joints. This would have also allowed more establishments to get in on the action.
While we think it would have been very interesting to have an "Esplanade Face Off" between our friends at Port of Call and us, the bottom line is the best burger is the one that YOU like best. And if Buffa's is your idea of Burger Nirvana, we are thrilled to continue feeding your habit. But if one of the other places (whether featured in the Burger Brawl or not) is more to your ilking, that's OK too. There is plenty of room for all of us to thrive if the burgers are tasty.