Elevation Burger aims high … and sometimes delivers

Elevation Burger, 50 E. Wynnewood Road, enters the already-crowded and competitive field of mid-range burger houses by pouncing on the middle-class desire to eat healthier, more natural food and promote a greener food industry. And, judging by the college and suburban minivan crowd packing the place, consumers are buying into the concept hook, line and sinker.

We’re all for Elevation Burger’s promises of “more nutritious choices” in a “greener environment” with sustainable operating practices and organic, free-range, grass-fed beef with no hormones, additives or trans fat. But it’s times like this we wish we had a food scientist/environmentalist on staff to crunch the numbers on this theory.

But, at the end of the day, all we really want is a damn good hamburger, regardless of whether it does more damage to the earth and our arteries than the other burger joint down the street. [Editor’s note: Speak for yourself, Larry.]

In the traditional-hamburger department, Elevation Burger is just barely competitive with similar institutions. The buns and toppings are top-notch, meaning they’re fresh and tasty on traditional fare like the Elevation Burger (double meat and cheese, $5.99) and the cheeseburger ($4.39), but the actual burger patties don’t live up to the organic, free-range, happy-cow hype that surrounds them.

Are they good? Yes.

Great? Probably.

Better than other mid-range burger slingers? Not really.

Another sore spot: the “fresh fries” ($2.59). Yes, they’re cut onsite and cooked in 100-percent olive oil, but their limp-shoestring presentation seems more a bid to keep the kids happy than to cater to adult tastes. As with the burgers, there are superior examples to be had elsewhere, and you’re probably better off taste- and health-wise ordering the side salad ($2.49) or the mandarin oranges ($1.56).

There are some pleasant surprises at Elevation Burger, but, before we get to that, there’s an item on the menu that needs to be addressed because it seems to fly in the face of any “healthy eating” mantra.

The Vertigo Burger (price varies) can be made with anywhere from three to 10 (that’s right, 10!) burger patties, alternated with slices of cheese if one is so inclined.

On our visit, we didn’t see anyone order this monstrosity but, still, we’re scared. Please tell us this is a joke.

Elevation really lives up to its mission in the veggie burgers ($3.59), which come in two varieties. Veggie burger No. 1 is geared toward vegetarians and carnivores taking baby steps into veggie country. Veggie burger No. 2 is for the vegans.

Both are made with wheat, mushrooms, red peppers, onions and oats, but No. 1 contains brown rice, yellow corn, tomato, mozzarella, Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and jalapeños, all of which give the burger a juicy enough kick to compete with the meatier options. Veggie burger No. 2 is no slouch either, with broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts, soy protein, yellow peppers and barley in the mix for a more traditional veggie-burger flavor.

Another menu winner (but surely spinning way out of healthy territory) is Elevation Burger’s hand-spun milkshakes ($3.89). With two scoops of vanilla, chocolate or coffee ice cream and ingredients like Oreos, key lime, strawberry, mango and guava to choose from, you might gladly throw dietary caution to the wind and indulge.

Elevation has definitely raised the veggie-burger game. If it can elevate its beef game, this place might be a serious contender in the field.

Larry Nichols can be reached at [email protected].