March 6, 2014

Avance + Border Springs = The Best New Burger in Philly?

Border Springs lamb, onion marmalade, harissa mayo and feta on a sesame potato bun. Those, folks, are the ingredients for the next great burger in Philly.

Avance burger with a side of chickpea fries
Readers know we’re big fans of Border Springs Farm. Their lamb sandwiches are some of the best in Philly and their founder, Craig Rogers, is passionate about making lamb more mainstream. (listen to our podcast interview with Craig)

When we heard that Avance, the new restaurant in Le Bec Fin's old space, was using Border Springs lamb in its burger to rave reviews, we knew we had to check it out. It's definitely one of the best burgers in Philly, if not the best.

We are not alone in this feeling: both Craig Laban and Adam Erace loved the Avance lamb burger, too.

The healthy-sized burger comes with the refreshing and flavorful twist to traditional toppings listed above. The bartender raved about the sesame seed potato bun and we couldn't agree more. It was soft, tasty, almost like a slightly denser brioche. The lamb meat was cooked to an absolutely perfect medium rare. There was nothing to dislike about this burger. Even the $18 price is worth it. Go. Get. It. Now!

(keep reading for more tips about drinking/dining at Avance)

Inside the Avance lamb burger

If you need another reason to go, local writer and foodie extraordinaire Joy Manning, who ate a nearby table, said the dry aged duck was one of the top five things she’s had in Philly. High praise indeed from an expert.

Even better, you don’t need a reservation to get the burger, duck or anything else off the Avance menu. Just head to the downstairs bar, which reminds us of a high-class gastropub/cocktail bar. It filled up quickly by 7:30 on a Friday night. The scene was low key and the bartenders were conversational. With this undertone and a menu that brings in local providers like Border Springs, it represents well chef Justin Bogle's goal to create a dining experience that fosters community among the local farmers, the kitchen and its guests.

Speaking of the bar, we sampled a variety of cocktails and all were quite good. Toe to Toe is a nice, lightly fruity option for the tequila drinker. Run 'n Gun really does remind you of sitting around a campfire, as the bartender described. We didn’t try the Panda at the Disco, but the glass is covered in liquid nitrogen first so we got a show every time someone else ordered it - apparently it's popular.

One caveat to remember: even at the downstairs bar, Avance still isn't cheap. The cocktails run $13 or $14 each and besides the burger, most entrées are $30+. Even the vegetarian dish, the Brassicas, a delicious mix of roasted, smoked and dried plants/veggies, was a very small portion for $25. Starter dishes are also $15+.

At a minimum, just head to the bar, order one cocktail and the lamb burger. You’ll leave a happy camper.

Beautiful plating of the Brassicas, but not really much food

Another gorgeous plate - the arctic char appetizer with green apple, elderberry and fennel

Bar at Avance on Urbanspoon

Avance on Urbanspoon

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