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.