The JF Burger
Burger Runner Up
- Basil's on Market | Troy, OH
- Cincinnati Division
Chef Bill Valaitis admits that it took almost two months to perfect, but he would gleefully pit the J.F. Burger (named in honor of Basil’s partner Jeff Finkelstein) against anyone else’s. He says that there is one simple secret to its success: its juiciness. To achieve this, the burger patties are lightly seasoned, then placed on a flattop oven where he adds a beef base.
“If you bite into our burger, you know it’s beef,” stresses the chef, who’s worked at the restaurant since its opening in 2014. “It’s got a nice beef flavor to it—along with the other spices that you put on top of it. The beef base seals in that true beef flavor.”
That might sound like an easy task, but Valaitis insists that many places get their burgers wrong. He says that through trial and error he came up with what he believes is a flawless burger. First, they experimented with several different types of beef before settling on Certified Angus Beef.
“It really holds the flavor,” says Valaitis about the meat that they tried grilling at first, but he describes that outcome as a “dried out hockey puck.” They eventually figured out that the best way to cook the patties was on the flattop oven. It was such a success that they decided to switch the other burgers over to this process. “Even our well-done burgers are juicy because of our process,” he insists.
But the magic doesn’t stop there with the J.F. Burger. Valaitis says that once the burger patty is cooked to perfection, it’s topped with Basil’s signature chili lime slaw, chèvre (goat cheese), bacon, shaved roasted Brussels sprouts and finished with a house-made Asian drizzler. The bun is also house-made and the chef describes it as “a cross between a Kaiser and brioche.” It comes with a house salad or truffle fries.
The J.F. Burger is only available during lunch and is one of the few permanent menu items. Everything else, says Valaitis, changes seasonally and is based on what’s popular.
In its two-year existence, Basil’s on Market is always focused on becoming the place to be in an area where people are seeking a good meal. In fact, the team prides itself on “bringing a big city flair to a quaint hometown,” according to its website.
Located only 25 minutes from Dayton, Ohio, Basil’s has managed to garner a healthy dose of regulars, mostly people who work nearby at the downtown courthouse, police or fire stations.
“We’re in the mecca of Troy,” says Chef Bill Valaitis, “and we’ve tried to make Basil’s a destination for those who come to visit.”
Basil’s is a casual, sit-down establishment offering classic American dishes with global influences, says Valaitis. Although there are a few restaurants in the area offering somewhat similar cuisine, it’s rare for them to change their menus, he adds.
“Other restaurants in Troy have had the same menus for 30 years. In just a couple of years we have changed our menu eight or nine times. Very few restaurants in the area do that. There’s always something different (here).”
What sets Basil’s apart is that he uses fresh and local ingredients from farmers whenever possible. He also stresses that everything is made in-house. “There is not one thing in my kitchen that is store bought,” he says proudly. “All of our sauces, our soups are made from scratch.”