Even though I lived on the border of Cambridge and Somerville for years, not once did I even think of stopping into R.F. O’Sullivan + Son on Beacon Street. From the outside, it looks like a pretty typical Irish pub, right down to the gilded letters on the marquee. Inside, however, are some of what the Boston Phoenix calls the best burgers in town, so when Keith asked a friend and me to meet up for a late night bite a few Fridays ago, our answer was immediately yes.
With almost thirty burgers on its regular menu, it’s amazing that the folks running the grill are even capable of coming up with nightly burger specials. And yet…
I went with the Black and Blue, which is something like the burger version of steak au poivre topped with a robust hunk of blue (bleu?) cheese ($8.50). Honestly, while my crush on cheese is still runs rampant, I would say that something else contributed more than fifty percent to my decision — though I suppose it would be more accurate to say “two things:” French fries and onions rings. The Black and Blue is one of the few items on the menu that comes with a half portion of each fries and rings, an incredibly exciting combination especially since R.F. O’Sullivan’s onion rings are my favorite type: big as a chunky bangle bracelet, and coated in crunchy batter. I loathe skinny rings, limp and tasteless. These were crisp and not even remotely greasy to the touch — perfect. The fries were merely okay, more like thick slices of baked potato than slender and long; the flavor was nice, but I can’t deny that the onion rings were the star of the two.
As for the burger… it was okay. For an item proclaiming to be loaded with crushed black pepper, it was surprisingly, well, not. I definitely expected more intensity that I received, though the meat was cooked precisely to my requested “on the rarer side of medium-rare,” resulting in an extremely juicy burger. I’m not exaggerating by saying I had to wipe off my wrists and shove my sleeves as far back as they would go.
So, do I think I missed out on something, having moved some twenty minutes away from R.F. O’Sullivan’s? I can’t say that I did. But I will go back — for the onion rings.
R.F. O’Sullivan + Son
282 Beacon Street
Somerville, Massachusetts 02143