Bobby Flay rolls into town

Pickup! Bobby Flay works the window to demonstrate his burgers at Bobby's Burger Palace. (Photo: Michael Bryant)

Bobby Flay is in Philly to usher in the fifth location of Bobby's Burger Palace, his casual operation providing a counterpoise to his high-end spots such as Bobby Flay Steak in the Borgata in Atlantic City and assorted Mesa Grills.

BBP opens at noon Tuesday (4/6) at 3925 Walnut St.on the ground floor of the Radian building in University City, next door to a Chipotle and down the row from Capogiro. (My Twitter followers will learn of a surprise later this afternoon.)

Bright, mod decor includes curved counters and matching lighting sconces, playing out to a rock soundtrack. The menu is studded with Certified Angus beef, ground turkey or chicken breast varieties, ($6.50 for the classic with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion, and $7.50 for topped burgers). Burgers are 6 ounces before cooking, a touch larger than the patties at 500º -- to mention another new burgery in town (1504 Sansom St.).

Flay is big on "crunchifying" his burgers by adding potato chips to the top. Philly's menu has a Philadelphia burger with provolone or Cheez Whiz, plus griddled onions and peppers. There will be spiked and regular milkshakes, too, for the Penn crowd.

Flay, who made his mark with fancier restaurants before he launched an empire that includes cookbooks, spices, and Iron Chef America, says it's always been about burgers for him.

He's partial to JG Melon in Manhattan for his burgers, and knows that everyone has his or her own favorite shop. "My goal is to want you to crave these burgers and to feel you're getting a good value," he said this morning.

Flay also is serving fresh fries. The first BBP, in New York, he tried frozen but was not wild about the quality. "They were good enough ... OK," he said. " But just OK's not OK."

After many trials -- scrubbing, hand-cutting, overnight soaking, blanching, cooling, and firing them to order -- he thinks he has them right.

Philly is "my kind of town," says the New York native and Yankee fan. "It's gutsy and real here. You take it all at face value. What you see is what you get. You don't have to look under the covers. And people have always been nice to me."