Adam Jones needed one last fix. In January, a few hours before the Ravens’ shocking playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans and a couple weeks before he and his family would relocate halfway around the world, Jones strode into Abbey Burger Bistro. As usual, the former Orioles star—who had just signed a two-year, $8.2-million-dollar contract to play in Japan’s Nippon Professional League—ordered the SimplyAJ10. A colossal kitchen-sink creation (think Kobe beef, pepperjack, avocado, bacon, and jalapeños on an English muffin) that he concocted and that’s named after his heavily followed Twitter account, it has been a permanent item on the menu ever since 2012, when the outfielder led the O’s to their first playoff appearance in forever. Although Jones is gone and the Birds have fallen flat on their face, Abbey Burger is still going strong.
“He’s good people,” says Marigot Miller of Jones. Seated at a quiet booth in Abbey Burger’s newly opened Mount Washington restaurant, the 39-year-old owner and mother of two—Raegan and Liliana—describes how Jones was instrumental in putting the restaurant on the map. How he started coming in after games during that 2012 season and how his brainchild burger eventually became a fixture. How MTV soon caught wind of it and came to Fed Hill to film Jones devouring the thing for an episode of Off the Bat. How, even today, after 11-plus years in business and numerous menu iterations, the Simply AJ10 remains a popular menu item at one of Charm City’s most popular establishments. But Abbey Burger’s success story is less about Baltimore’s Jones and more about America’s jones for patty perfection.
Legend has it that the hamburger was invented in 1891 by a German cook who lived in the town of Hamburg. Around that same time, according to a different tale, brothers Frank and Charles Menches begat the burger when they ran out of sausage at a county fair and used chopped beef as a stand-in. Others claim that the hamburger hatched in 1900 at a New Haven, Connecticut, joint called Louis’ Lunch (not for nothing, the Library of Congress supports this story). Regardless of which account you believe, there’s no denying that Americans—with an assist from iconic chains such as White Castle and McDonald’s—fell hard for hamburgers. It’s a love affair that refuses to flame out.
“It’s still the favorite entrée for lunch or dinner in the United States,” says Bret Thorn, senior food and beverage editor at Nation’s Restaurant News. “Americans could eat hamburgers all day long.” Since the turn of the millennium, the Yankee obsession has reached new heights. In 2001, acclaimed French chef Daniel Boulud opened Bistro Moderne, a midtown Manhattan spot that featured a sirloin patty stuffed with short ribs and foie gras (still on the menu today, it goes for a cool 35 bucks). Just like that, the gourmet burger boom was off and running.
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