Downtown Troy has many restaurants and other businesses that give the city an unique sense of character. Some of these restaurants stay open into the early hours of the morning, knowing that RPI students are up at all hours of the night. People have their own reasons for not sleeping, but one common need is a late night bite to eat. The Brown Bag caters to that need, as it is open from 5 pm–2:15 am Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays it is open from 5 pm–3:15 am. It is one of the last businesses in Troy to close every night.
For many, their first post-midnight meal is how they know they are truly in college. The Brown Bag, on 4th Street, has a reputation for being one of the best locally owned burger joints. It is hyped up as being one of the crown jewels of downtown Troy. This week for The Poly, I experienced the South Troy Burger and became a member of the esteemed group of RPI students that have experienced the glory of The Brown Bag. Judging off the line outside the restaurant, that group of RPI students is quite large.
The South Troy Burger is a burger topped with bacon and peanut butter, and instead of having a regular bun, it has a glazed donut to hold it all together. I’ve been warned by many people to prepare for a culinary experience unlike any other. After having eaten the infamous South Troy Burger, I can say that it truly is an experience. My word of warning is that the South Troy Burger is very messy and falls apart in your hand as you eat it. The donut provides the perfect sweet contrast to the savory components of the beef patty, bacon, and peanut butter. At first, I didn’t think the donut was going to make much of a difference, but it is really what makes the burger unique. After eating it, you’ll understand why you simply can’t do a peanut butter and bacon burger on a normal bread bun. It would be missing that subtle softness and sweetness that a fresh glazed donut adds to the equation.
A simple comparison is the flavor you get when you dip a pretzel in a chocolate fountain. Salt and sugar are cravings that evolution has hardwired into the psyche of man. The bacon is top quality because it is cooked to be crispy (if you like floppy bacon go elsewhere) and it is easy to tell it is prepared fresh every day. Anyone who has experienced the abomination that the campus dining facilities call bacon will welcome the change. The burger is cooked well done, but is juicy and nicely sized. Again, the contrast between a burger from The Brown Bag and one from Commons Dining Hall’s grill station cannot be overstated.
Unfortunately, my review would be incomplete without mentioning some troubling news I have received from my upperclassman friends. In the past several years, The Brown Bag has been consistently raising its prices. Seniors tell me that a basic hamburger at The Brown Bag was once around $3, whereas today it is $6. Of course, some price raises are business necessities but doubling prices in a relatively short period of time smacks of price gouging. They know that a good amount of their customers are RPI students. That being said, I am willing to pay for the heavenly goodness that is the South Troy Burger even if it can only be an occasional treat.