Thursday, September 30, 2010

Glenview Country Club Restaurant

Glenview Country Club Restaurant
3194 Glenview Road
The Villages, Florida 32162
Phone: 352-753-0077
www.glenviewrestaurant.com

Thomas' take
This stop on the tour comes courtesy of one of my co-workers, Mike Rostas. He was kind enough to notice an ad for Glenview's burger special which included a tag line claiming the best burger in The Villages. Well of course we can't pass up the chance to put that kind of claim to the test.

I was a little uncertain about the country club setting at first. But I was pleasantly surprised. Despite being very new, the restaurant had a traditional, almost old-timey feel to it. It was a very relaxed place. The kind that made me want to get an iced tea and sit around talking about taking strokes off my back nine (I've been told it helps to play the game) or something of the sort. There were a couple tables of people laughing, lounging and having a good time enjoying each other's company, which is always a plus.

Excellent lunch setting.

The burger:
With no other Villages' burgers as comparison, this is definitely the best burger we've had in The Villages. Though really this was an excellent burger. Cooked to medium, the burger was still the right amount of juicy. That is to say it was juicy, but not so much so that it became a mess-making problem.

There was nothing fancy about this burger and it works perfectly for it. For $5 (if you get a drink) this is a solid burger meal. Everything you want without any frill (not that frill is always bad). Even with bacon and cheese the taste of the burger wasn't overpowered, a big plus in my book.

The downs:
Really the only down is that it is not a central location unless you live in The Villages near the country club. But I guess that's part of the appeal.

The ups:
Lovely place to eat lunch. A great weekend, take-it-easy kind of place. Awesome burger-to-bun ratio. The bun covered the whole burger but maintained a pretty consistent bun thickness. Solid burger. Good price. I keep coming back the word relaxed and I think it's a good word as any to sum up the whole experience.

It's also worth mentioning the chips are an awesome homemade barbecue-flavored delight. I usually prefer fries to chips. But I would get these chips again.

Things we learned:
I should not be trusted with soup. Jess got a bowl of the soup of the day, a steamed tomato beef. She offered to let me taste it and I promptly trailed steamed tomato beef soup across the table and my plate. I can be dressed up but I can't be taken out...

The rating:
4 out of 5

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Brick City Cafe

Brick City Cafe
210 Northeast 1st Street
Ocala, FL 34470-6651
352-629-4700


Thomas' take
We haven't had a whole lot of luck with finding burgers in Ocala. Mostly because I spend most of the time that I'm out of my apartment in an office in The Villages so my knowledge of Ocala is very limited. On my trips around town though I have always eyed the Brick City Cafe. Its side entrance (seen above) leads through a small courtyard/alley that I liked and any place that has a Brick City Burger get points in my book.

The inside of the cafe wasn't overly... anything. It was small, but clean and well kept (as well kept as an older building can be). It had a very small town, everyday regulars kind of feeling. The servers were very nice, talkative (but not overly) and remembered enough about customers to comment to one that she didn't think he'd like the new soup as much because she remembered he likes thicker soup.

The burger:
A 1/3 pound Angus beef patty, I got mine all the way, which included mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion and a pickle spear speared to it. I added ketchup and mustard and threw the onions away. Still not sure why I didn't ask to have them left off.

The burger itself was pretty spot on, fully cooked but still juicy and tasty. And just as important, it had excellent bun, burger ratio. The bun was just a little bit big than the burger to ensure every bite of delicious meat was cradled in fluffy bread goodness.

The downs:
I'm struggling a little bit here. No major down points come to mind. If I had to pick something, I would say the interior. It didn't detract in anyway, there was nothing wrong with it, but it didn't do them any favors. It just kind of was there.

The ups:
Like the venue, there is not a lot of pizazz in the burger but neither needed it. This was a good everyday, always good burger. The bun was good, the meat was good and they complimented each other nicely.

It's not the kind of burger that is going to make a place famous, but it is a burger that is going to keep people coming back again and again.

And curly fries were standard. And these were good curly fries.

The rating:
4 out of 5

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Big Burger

I'm super stoked to be back in Florida and back on the burger tour!  And as our first stop upon my return, Big Burger was a solid choice.

The Place
I've driven past Big Burger dozens of times and it has always intrigued me.  It's on a busy stretch of University Ave in downtown Gainesville.  A prime location for serving up burgers.  I liked the inside of the place, mostly because I'm an incurable Elvis fan and couldn't get over the collage of Elvis albums plastered on the walls.  I thought it was great!

The Burger
While Tom tackled the "Big Burger" itself (a one-pound hunk of meat on a bun), I went for the "Baby Burger", which was a more manageable 1/4 lb patty, and topped it with American cheese and bacon. 

Let me just say this, I have eaten a lot of burgers and I think I have found my niche in the burger world-- I'm a 1/3 lb kind of girl. 

My options at Big Burger were 1/4 lb, 2/3 lb, or 1 lb.  I was a little stumped by this at the counter and had to ask my burger partner, "How much is 2/3 of a pound?  Can I eat that?"  He looked at me and said, "Not all at once..."  So I decided to play it safe with the 1/4 lb.

The flavor in my "Baby Burger" was good.  The meat was juicy and not over-cooked, so that was a good start.  However, I am suspicious that most of the flavor came from the added bacon. 

This makes me want to give Big Burger another try, wherein I will order the same burger sans bacon.  Also, neither of us ordered fries or any other sides with our burgers, so I would like to go back and give their fries a chance.

Pros
It's at a good location, though a little ways from my apartment, if I were out and about downtown, I could definitely see myself stopping by for a burger.  Also, we can't overlook the great King-themed atmosphere and the overall quality of the burger.

Cons
Big Burger keeps really weird hours.  Something like 11am to 4pm Mon, Tues, Weds, and then 11am - 4pm, reopening at 11pm - 3 am Fri, Sat, Sun.  Definitely catering to the bar crowds downtown.  However, it doesn't really leave itself open to much dinner business, which is a bummer because that's usually our time for burger touring.

Also, what's the deal with those weird sizes?  Can I just have a 1/3 lb burger please?

Score
As I said, I would like to try Big Burger again, but overall, I was satisfied with my burger experience.  All things considered, I give my Baby Burger at Big Burger...

3 out of 5

Also...
Tom's blog talks about our original search for "Face Burger".  I later found out that it's actually called Big Uly's Burgers, which I still want to add to the burger tour.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Big Burger

Big Burger
21 West University Ave.
GainesvilleFL 32601

352-380-0001


Thomas' take 
Our first outing back since the summer hiatus was shaping up to be a good one. We knew of a place in downtown Gainesville that we heard had good burgers. Most intriguing about the place was we didn't know the name. We just knew there was a big smiling face on the sign. 



So we went out in search of "Face burger" as we dubbed it. Luckily Jess was able to guide us right to it but the parking lot was overgrown, there wasn't a light on in the place and the windows were dirty. I made the call to abandon Face Burger and we headed to Big Burger.


A small locally-owned burger place slash want-to-be sports bar, Big Burger is a nice little place downtown. Plenty of Elvis memorable lines the walls, and the booths, tables and chairs are stylized like a '50s diner. Lettering on the windows carried some catchy slogans like "We're grillin' and chillin' for you" and "Home of the 1-pound burger."


The burger: 
When an establishment makes a point to advertise a specific burger it is like practically begging us to tour it. The aptly named Big Burger is two 1/2-pound patties on a pretty decent bun. I got mine with lettuce, tomato, pickle, ketchup, mustard and mayo, but the burger menu is of the get-it-how-you-like-it variety and the list of possible add-ons and condiments was extensive. 



The downs:
There is nothing very remarkable about this burger. Sure it's big and that's neat... but in terms of flavor it was lacking anything to really define it. 



That being said, it is a solid burger. It does everything right and certainly fills you up. I enjoyed eating it, it just was not worth writing to mom about. 


The ups:
I liked the atmosphere and would like to go back and actually eat there (it might be their summer hours, but the place closes at 4 p.m. most days). It was a simple, no frills, to the point kind of burger which I really appreciate. 



Jess and I decided we definitely would go back for their burgers and maybe even for another review.


The rating:
3.5 out of 5




Thursday, July 15, 2010

The wait is over - almost

Thomas' take

Jess recently finished up her internship at the Detroit Institute of Art and is heading back to the Sunshine State this weekend which means the Burger Tour summer hiatus is nearing an end.

We have plenty more burgers to eat and I'm extremely excited to have my burger buddy back.

To whet your appetite for real burger blogging I'm going to offer a little review of a recent Burger King visit. This does go against one of the tenets of the Tour, but because I was burgering on my own and because this was a standout experience we're going to allow.

Burger King A1 Steakhouse Burger

This was completely an impulse buy. I was seeking a quick fast food burger during my lunch break and ended up in Burger King. My gaze wandered from the Whopper to this relatively new creation.

If I had known then what I know now... I would have gone to Wendy's.

The burger: 
On paper this was going to be a solid meal; steak-like patty, A1 sauce, cheese, haystack onions, tomato, lettuce, and mayo. I knew going into it that this wasn't going to be the bet burger ever, hell, to be honest I wasn't expecting much, but I was still disappointed.

The downs:
The first negative surprise was the Thousand Island-like dressing that was slathered on the burger. It was extra zesty and applied with way too much zeal. I've never been a fan of this trend. To me it's like putting ketchup on steak, water in whiskey or mayonnaise on cake. Why take something delicious and add something to it to make it taste like poop?

The next startling realization was that the pseudo-steak patty had almost zero flavor. Maybe the workers at the Burger King factory put too much "nondescript meat flavor" juice it or maybe it was supposed to be like escargot -- chewy, flavorless and kind of gross. Either way there was no distinct flavor to the burger and the only way I knew I was eating something (aside from me chewing stuff) was the sting of the super zesty dressing.

The ups:
This burger provided me with much needed perspective. It reminded me that simply being a burger doesn't make a burger good.

The other good thing is that it was very filling. In fact I was full of a "sick to my stomach" feeling for much of the night, and my throat was full of stomach acid from the raging heartburn and reflux it gave me.

The rating:
0.5 out of 5 I could probably be talked into eating it again, but I wouldn't pay for it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Cafe Gardens

The Place
Cafe Gardens is one of my favorite places in Gainesville.  It's right across from campus, no more than a 10 minute walk from my home in the Fine Arts Complex.  As a result, I have been there many times with many people and everyone agrees that the burgers are great.  The place has a very college-y atmosphere-- you know, lots of crazy crap on the walls, Gator paraphernalia everywhere, and waitresses in mini-skirts and fishnets.  Artsy.  It's a tiny place on the inside, but they also have a ton of outdoor seating, which is really nice.

The Burger
Cafe Gardens offers a number of different specialty burgers, many of which I have tried, but my favorite is the Blue Moon. I love the combination of bacon and blue cheese, and I love it even more on my burgers.  Yet, in attempt at neutrality, I ordered a burger I had never had at Cafe Gardens-- the BBQ Burger.


Per the usual, I loved it.  The meat is well seasoned and juicy (without being overly greasy) and the crispy onion / tangy BBQ combo with the slight sweetness of the beef is fantastic.  Does that sound a little too Top Chef for this blog?  Well, how about this-- it came with tortilla chips that are awesome.  Now, those were oily and delicious.

I also give major points for the proportions of this burger (and all burgers at Cafe Gardens).  A lot of times, you'll find a patty that is too big for its bun, (or the other way around) or too many toppings to the point of the burger falling apart... but this is not an issue here.  The physics of these burgers were near perfection.

Pros
Great location (for me and other UF students), straight up awesome burgers, cool atmosphere.

Cons
Not the best service in town (not rude or unpleasant, just a bit slow), and they're closing down soon!

The Rating
All in all, this is one of my favorite burgers in Gainesville.  It's right up there with the Copper Monkey at a 4.5 / 5

Cafe Gardens

Cafe Gardens
www.cafegardens.net
1643 Northwest 1st Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32603-1813
352-376-2233




Thomas' take
Scheduled to close before the start of summer, this is easily the saddest tour locale we've been to. While it would be a shame if any of the places we had toured decided to close, Cafe Gardens is a truly deep loss not only to burger lovers, but the community at large.


An ideal hangout spot, the Gardens' decor and atmosphere were almost as delectable as its fare. Very cozy inside sitting was complemented by a tiki-style outside bar and eating area.


The Burger:
From the Blue Moon Burger to the BQQ Burger, the Gardens' list of cooked meat on a bun looked pretty mouthwatering. I went with the classic Garden Burger because we like to be as scientific about our burgering as we can (we like science almost as much as we like burgers). I was not disappointed.

A mighty burger topped with a zesty cheddar on a full, fluffy, perfect-sized bun was just what the doctor ordered (actually I don't know if a doctor ordered it, but I did). Even though it was cooked a little pink for my taste in medium meat, this was one awesome burger. Juicy and full of flavor this burger was damn near perfect.

The downs:
Tortilla chips instead of fries. This actually more of a "neutral" than a "down". I love me some tortilla chips, but when I'm eating a burger I want fries (freedom or french, I don't care what you call them as long as they are potatoey and delicious).

I also was not in love with the service. The waitress clearly knew a lot of the people and talked a lot to the regulars, which is a good sign, but it did slow her down a lot. Jess and I don't need a lot of care, server-wise, but for how empty the place was when we went to eat it took way too long for everything. Not so long that it was painful, it was a Sunday afternoon after all (we're easy like Sunday morning) but still.


The ups:
I have immensely enjoyed touring, but I was worried we had peaked early by doing the Copper Monkey first because we had not found a burger that was nearly as good; until now. The Garden Burger was a true joy and anyone who can get one before the place closes should do so posthaste. 

The Rating:
4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

BJ's

The Place
BJ's is one of my favorite neighborhood places.  It's just down the street from my apartment (1/4 mile, maybe?) and has a gigantic menu, comparable to that of the Cheesecake Factory.  I like it because everyone can always find something at BJ's.  Plus, they brew their own rootbeer and a bunch of microbrews.  Double plus, the restaurant shares its name with my dad.  Awesome! 

I've been to BJ's lots of times but had never tried their burgers, so I thought it was about time.  I mean-- everything else I've ever had there has been great...

The Burger
Look at that burger.  Doesn't it look kind of... not like a burger?  It reminded me more of some kind of club sandwich.  On the menu, it sounded delicious, but in reality, it was less than impressive-- which was surprising because I usually have good luck with the food at BJ's. 

The meat itself was a bit on the dry side, yet the cheddar cheese on the top was great, but then the weird bread roll it came on was a little too dry to make for a good burger bun.  However, I thought the fries were pretty awesome.  Based on Tom's review of his sweet potato fries, I think the shoe-string fries are the way to go here. I enjoyed them immensely.

Pros
Stellar location, great atmosphere, huge menu, awesome name, best rootbeer around, fantastic french fries.

Cons
Veering away from the fixings of a "traditional" burger did not play out well in this case.  Had it come on a regular bun, the burger would have improved a bit, but the meat was still somewhat lackluster.

The Score
I will keep going back to BJ's because I love it... but probably not for burgers.  And in their defense, BJ's is best known for its pizza (which is out of this world), rootbeer, and microbrewed beer.

With that being said, I give BJ's burger...

2.5 / 5

BJ's Restaurant

The Place: 
BJ's Restaurant
www.bjsbrewhouse.com
6611 W Newberry Rd
Gainesville, FL 32605
352-331-8070





Thomas' take
BJ's is a restaurant we've tried several times and have been incredibly impressed with their fare. Excellent food mixed with the variety and quality drinks of a brewery made me pretty sure their burger would an absolute treat.


The Burger:
The BJ's style burger is a 1/2-pound Angus patty on a French cheese bun. In theory this was going to be one hell of a good burger. In practice I was little disappointed.

While I loved the idea of the French cheese bun and the unusual shape of the burger, there was not a whole lot else going on here. The patty itself was a little thin and the taste was overpowered by its charred exterior. I don't mind a little bit of burnt flavor as long as there is enough tasty meat flavor so I remember I'm eating burger and not charcoal.

I would certainly be interested in eating another burger there, particularly because there are two more types of specialty burgers.

The downs:
The fries were not nearly as good they should have been. Seasoned potato wedges should by default be like a tiny party in your mouth. These were more like a book club meeting. They were fine and not unpleasant, but you have the sense there should be something more interesting happening and you're disappointed by Margret's rambling explanation of the use of simulacra in "Pride and Prejudice."(Margret ruins everything...)

The ups:
The most amazing root beer I have ever had. BJ's has its own microbrewery and makes about a million flavors of beer including root style. If I was going to rate this burger just on the root beer it would get a 30 out of 5.

However I actually rate it a...

The Rating:
3 out of 5

Monday, April 5, 2010

110th Street Grille

The Place:
110th Street Grille
10901 SE US Highway 441
Belleview, FL 34420-3844
(352) 245-9077‎

I could argue that the 110th had the best atmosphere of all the burger joints we've tried. Set inside a strip mall (like most things in Florida), it didn't look like much from the outside. Inside, it was small, but had awesome Florida-themed (manatees!) murals on the walls, along with Conch Republic flags and other Jimmy Buffet-esque paraphernalia. I liked it. It was... tropical.

There were also lots of "regulars", as we say in the restaurant biz. Customers yelling their "hellos" back into the kitchen... it was nice. And if a place has lots of repeat customers, you know it has to be good. And it was.

I'm told that there are signs along the 441 that tout this place as having "the best burgers in Belleview", so we were excited to put them to the test. Here's what we found...

The Burger:
Or should I say burgerS. Yes, my burger was actually TWO burger patties--side by side--on one bun. I don't know why they did this, but it was still delicious. The patties were clearly home made-- obvious because of their irregular shape.

Tommy had the "Paradise Burger" which was described on the menu as being served with "lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and french friend potatoes". He didn't get the reference... poor kid.



I had a plain 'ol classic cheeseburger, which was fantastic. The meat was cooked to a perfect medium (half of the time, when I order "medium" I get "well done" and that does NOT impress me). The flavor was great, too. It tasted smokey and juicy and delicious.


The fries were very good but not the best I've ever had. But they get extra points for giving me a GIANT mason jar full of diet Coke.

The Score:
Overall, I really liked the 110th street. It's about 10 minutes from Tom's place in Ocala, so that makes it a place we'll probably come back to again.

Pros: Great flavor, cooked perfectly, good price, Floridian atmosphere, convenient location

Cons: Fries could have been better

Score: 4 out of 5

110th Street Grille

Thomas' take

It's been awhile. For that we are sorry. A small string of events involving killer whales, intense grad school schedules, out-of-state visitors and family emergencies (a co-workers, not ours) kept us from touring the last several weeks. Though during the incident with the killer whales and this one time when we found Unicorn Forest, we did eat burgers with the express intention of rating them, but we didn't for some reason.

So we're back, in burger-eating black and decided to tour the "Best Burger in Belleview"

The Burger:
To be the best of anything in Belleview is not a tall order. Nestled along SR 441, this 2-mile stretch of strip malls, karate dojos and discount stores is pleasant but certainly not overwhelming. But the 110th Street Grille is a diamond in the rough for sure.

The aptly named "Paradise Cheeseburger," (Jess had to explain the cleverness of the name and the menu description to me) might as well have been a little slice of burger nirvana. A juicy home-style burger with plenty of flavor, this one went straight to the top for me.

This mighty-sized burger was made lickity-split by a lovely staff who still spent plenty of time greeting customers, even coming out of the back to talk to regulars (a definite good sign). Topped with some haystack fries, cheese and onions, I found it remarkable this burger did not have one overwhelming  flavor. All the tastes played together well and shared my taste buds (they must have learned well in kindergarten). The result was a damn fine burger.


The downs:
The fries were good, but nothing special. You could get fries like this anywhere there are sliced potatoes and super hot grease.
While delicious, this was perhaps the messiest non-open face burger I have ever eaten. Not only was it constantly shedding its insides, the fluffy bun came apart a bit and eventually the entire thing split asunder as if Moses was trying to march some Israelites through my lunch. 


The ups:
It was a damn fine burger.
The staff was very nice and efficient.
The inside had a lovely Floridian lake house kind of thing going on which was pretty cool.
30 bonus points* for a pirate flag flying near the kitchen.

The Rating:
4 out of 5

* Bonus points do not translate on a 1 to 1 ratio to the rating points.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ocala Ale House

Thomas' take

Ocala has been a little rough on the burger tour. We keep running into trouble with finding burger places. Don't get me wrong, we find them and they have good burgers, but it is just a lengthy process. We once again went looking for a burger place that had closed before we even heard about it.

We ended up going to the Ocala Ale House, a restaurant we had tried before, but not rated. This was our plan C. It was a good plan C.

The Burger:
Don't get me wrong. I liked this burger. Jess looked away for a second and I had inhaled it. But it didn't flip my skirt. The burger had a good taste. It tasted real, like something I would make at home. But it was a little tough. The bun was good but it was too big for the burger, it made the meat seem smaller and that was hard to get past.


Drawbacks:
The atmosphere of the Ale House is good and the rest of food is good, but the burger was a let down. It was good, but I'll eat a burger at home if I want one like that.


The Rating:
2.5 out of 5.

Ocala Ale House

The Place

Ocala Ale House

305 S.E. 17th Street
Ocala, FL 34471
(352) 620-8989 Phone
http://www.millersalehouse.com/default.asp

Much like last week's pick, we have been to the Ocala Ale House before... but not for burgers. It's a really cool joint-- the kind of place with tons of TV's (we watched Olympic speed skating), pool tables, video games and general... coolness.

The Burger

The atmosphere at the Ocala Ale House is better than their burgers. We both had the same observation of the bun being too big... or the patty being too small. But a few times, I took a bite that was almost entirely BUN.

The flavor of the meat was good, but I could have done with a little more cheese. Also,the waitress claimed that the kitchen forgot my request for "no pickle". Not a big deal... but not ideal. But the fries were good and the pop comes in GIANT glasses.


The Score

Pros:
Atmosphere, fries
Cons:
Oversized buns (or undersized patties?), lackluster cheese

Overall, I give it a 2.5 out of 5.

(I think their BBQ and steak sandwiches may be the way to go here)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Harry's

The Place

Harry's of Ocala

24 S.E. 1st Avenue
Ocala, FL 34471
(352) 840-0900
http://www.hookedonharrys.com/page/28-4188.htm

Yes, Harry's is a chain restaurant. BUT it's only in Florida, so we decided it still counts.

What did you get for Valentine's Day? I got a burger and I couldn't be happier. Ah, love.

Harry's was not our original pick for this evening. We had picked another place called Reno's On The Square. When we tried to find it, it turned out that the place had been replaced by the Mark Prime Steakhouse which demanded "Proper Attire"... so it was time to move to Plan B.

We have been to Harry's before and really enjoyed it, but had never tried their burgers. All in all, our "Plan B" worked out pretty well.

The Burger

Harry's does a good burger. The meat had great flavor! It was nice and smokey-- tasted like real BBQ! Also, the waiter didn't make a big stink about my request for mashed potatoes instead of french fries. (I really love their mashed potatoes). While the meat was not quite as juicy as the Copper Monkey, it was also not as greasy... so that's something to consider. Also-- the buns were really nice and toasty.

Our burgers were a little on the pricey side, but I'd say it was worth it. The burgers were a good size, had a great flavor and texture, and Harry's is a cool place.

The Score
Pros: flavor, easy substitutions, atmosphere
Cons: price

On the whole, I give it a 3.5 out of 5.

Harry's

Thomas' take


We were going to hold off on going to Harry's because had been there before for dinner (not burgers) but the place we picked had changed its name for some reason and had become a much fancier place (proper attire required). Our second choice ended up being even seedier than Terry's and didn't even have burgers.

But Harry's is nice place so it all worked out.

Harry's has a fun atmosphere. It's a "New Orleans Style Restaurant" and I guess that means fun because I have fun there. I would probably have even more fun if I liked fish because they seem to have a pretty good fish menu. But we weren't there for any fishy crap. We were there for burgers.



The Burger:
I went with the 1/2-Pound Angus Burger Harry's Style. This meant apple wood bacon, cheddar and jack cheese and caramelized onions (it also meant mushrooms but I told them to keep that shit off my burger). Harry makes a good burger. This was another large delicious burger with a hint of grill flavor. The extras played very well into the flavor of the burger instead of overpowering it. I had a hard time putting the burger down (I did a couple times to make sure I was breathing.)

We are pretty sure this is the first place that's asked us how we would like our burgers cooked. That's a big plus.

Drawbacks:
The Harry burger was good, but you are going to pay for it. At something like $10.99 for the burger(Harry style) and some fries, it was a little beyond what it should cost. It was good, but not that good.

Bonus:
Harry's starts you off with a little loaf of bread and some delicious garlicky butter concoction.

All in all:
A damn fine burger for sure, but the cost is going to bring the final score down half a point. A 3.5 out of 5.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Terry's Place

Thomas' take

First impressions mean a lot and pulling up to Terry's made us a little leery about being shanked or at least shot with a Walmart-brand gun. Luckily, second impressions go a long way with the Burger Tour Team and once inside we were pleased with what we found.

A nice out-of-the-way, bar and grill, Terry's had a good amount of business going for before noon on a Monday, a sign we took to mean they had something worth stopping by for.

The Burger:
Three things really stand out about this burger: Size, bun and price. Listed on the menu as a half-pound burger, the final product does not disappoint. For around $5 this bacon cheeseburger kept me full for most of the day. Add to the mix a homemade bun that was pretty freaking amazing and this burger was shaping up to be a top placer right from the start.

But I also decided I needed to start being a little harsher in my analyses  otherwise almost every burger would be getting a glowing review because I love burgers.

Drawbacks:
Terry's burger was definitely a homemade burger; the size, construction and bun made that clear. Despite the great base, the meat itself left a little to be desired. Just a few too many minutes on the grill meant the patty was a too well done leaving it a little tough and robbing it of some of the flavor.

Another minus (though minor) is the burger, almost as an homage to The Cheese, stands alone. Fries are extra. A lot of burgers come with too many fries, and some fries are lame, but when eating a burger you need at least some fries. It's the law.

All in all:
A really good burger. Definitely worth going back again.


The Rating:
3 out of 5

Monday, February 8, 2010

Terry's Place

Terry's Place
4121 Northeast 36th Avenue
Ocala, FL 34479-2243
(352) 732-3820‎

"If you're scared, we don't have to stay..."

We passed a lot of empty fields, an abandoned factory (that looked kind of like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory) and other interesting scenery on our way to this very out of the way, hole-in-the-wall bar and restaurant.

I'm glad we stayed. The atmosphere didn't instill a lot of confidence, but you know what they say about judging books by their covers. For 11:45 on a Monday, Terry's was doing a fair amount of business and everyone was enjoying the multiple big-screen TVs, showing Superbowl highlights.

The Burger
Terry's cheeseburger was a pleasant surprise! The best part was definitely the homemade bun. A little Internet research revealed that Terry's bakes all of their own bread-- and it was delicious! But then again, I've always been a bread lover.

The meat was a little over cooked and, as a result, could have been juicier. The flavor was certainly good, but nothing extraordinary. Both of our burgers were a pretty good size for the price and the curly fries were definitely the right choice.

In general, it was a pretty good burger. All the flavors were there, and price was right.

The Score
Pros: Nice buns, good price, friendly staff
Cons: Location, slightly over done

Final Score: 3.5 out of 5

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Copper Monkey



The Place

The Copper Monkey Restaurant and Pub
1700 West University Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32603
352.374.4984

To kick off the North-Central Florida Burger Tour, we started at a local favorite which claims to have the "best burger in Gainesville for over a decade".

So, how was it?

Well, my initial inclination was not to rate it at all. Having a background in science, I felt as though our noble quest needed a "control burger", against which all other burgers would be held.

But my fellow burger tourist has insisted that we provide a proper analysis in the spirit of not "taking the menu's word" for its claim of being the "best burger in Gainesville for over a decade".

So let me just say that overall, I was very pleased.

The Copper Monkey turned out to be a pretty cool place, that was doing consistent business the entire time we were there. I would be concerned if the place with the "best burger in Gainesville for over a decade" was empty.

I'm a purist-- I order my burgers plain, with American cheese, and the only thing that irked me about the Monkey was our waiter informing me that they do not, in fact, have American cheese. Oh well. Cheddar it is! A fine mid-western product indeed!

The Burger

The meat of the burger had a GREAT flavor. The ground beef was adequately salt&peppered and the finished product tasted pleasantly of a backyard BBQ. It really had a good charred smokeyness to it. Overall, it was a flavorful and juicy delight. A fantastic start to the tour!

I suppose the only downside to this meal was the side of fries. While their size and texture were fine, I found them to be a bit bland. A little salt could have gone a long way. But alas... none was on the table.

The Score
So here's the breakdown:

Pros: No pickle(!), great flavor, cool atmosphere
Cons: $5 parking, mediocre fries

In the end, I give it a 4.5 out of 5

The Copper Monkey

Thomas' take

The Copper Monkey Burger is right off the bat a pretty serious contender for the best burger on the tour. Chosen because they claim to have been voted the best burgers in Gainesville for about a decade, I have to admit I was extremely pleased with this burger.

The Burger:
Even with an awesome name, the cooks don't waste a lot of time making this a fancy burger and they don't need to. The meat is well seasoned and provides a nice juicy flavor without being overpowering. It's a good-sized burger and could easily be a mess, but the meat is just juicy enough to keep the flavor in, but not enough to get all over the place.

The cooking seems straightforward and like something you could pull off your own grill. That little extra grill flavor mixed with a nice hearty bun goes a long way to making this a great anytime burger.

It's quick, simple, big, delicious and pretty much everything you'd want in a burger.

Drawbacks:
The fries were pretty lame and it almost cost as much to park as it did to get the burger.


The Rating:
4.5 out of 5.