Friday, April 30, 2010

Higgins: Ruby Tuesday - Triple Prime Threat?

“The sudden disappointment of a hope leaves a scar which the ultimate fulfillment of that hope never entirely removes.” Thomas Hardy

"I still haven't found what I'm looking for..." Bono

Mary and I have this running conversation that there is no Ultimate burger and we may be past the age at which one decides "THIS" (wherever this may be) is THE Burger. I beg to differ. I am trying to pull my Burger Buddy out of her Medium-rare Existentialism and SAVE her with Hot Greasy Cheese Burger Evangelicalism... OK maybe we don't go that far, but that Best Burger is out there. Ruby Tuesday in Green Hills. Another chain burger. But the Triple Prime Burger, the name says it all, yes?

The Digs: It's a sit down restaurant. It's Ruby Tuesdays. I arrived late and the place was full. Mary had graciously ordered my burger ahead and I timed my late arrival perfectly.

At First Sight: It was nice enough, the bun looked a little bigger than the burger (and the burger was a nice size.) Cheese (cheddar I think) was melty on the side which made it look even better. Again, with the hand cut fries, but they are 'endless fries' and they came in a nice little cup-ish bowl thing. It made the presentation look nice and 'restauranty'. They had the condiments I wanted on it (Mary got a little extra from what I hear...)

At First Bite: Great Medium Rare Burger for me. I was surprised on first bite the flavor kind of jumped out at me. Grilled taste mixed well with the condiments... and I had my first drip on my shirt. Now mind you, I like a greasy burger. I am not wont to wear the grease all over my shirt. Maybe it was the day maybe it was the burger - if I had been at a bar having a beer, I would not have minded the drippage. What am I saying? I Love a good greasy burger! My Tide Stick worked overtime after the meal.

The Finish: After a few bites of great medium-rare meat, I started to taste the condiments as much or more than the burger. My greasy manna started to wane. And the bun? It seemed flakier like a croissant; I did not notice it at first because of the burger flavor... No croissant-y buns for me, please. It was a great first few bites then started to fail a little. I WORE that burger, some might complain, not me. I will blame it on the perfect meaty medium-rareness of it all. It was Juicy.

Score 7.75

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Burgers-N-Cream - Higgins View

"It is one thing to hear for oneself a sweet lute, sweetly played, and quite another thing merely to hear about it." Henry Suso

Burgers-n-Cream is big among my friends who like burgers. They told me the burgers were fantastic. I REALLY wanted to try try this great burger. Burgers-n-Cream in Cool Springs, here we go...

The Digs: When you walk into a place at 11am it's going to be clean. The stainless steel look is great. It's kind of a get your own drinks and stuff-you-want-at-the-table kind of place, which is fine - give me the food. Interestingly, we were there for 35 minutes and were the only ones IN the place... the lunch crowd doesn't come early, or did I hear incorrectly about the food? Because of the word from my friends I was so into the menu I forgot to ask for CHEESE on my burger... they have an American Burger which is almost perfect. I asked for no ketchup and got my mustard pickle and onion burger. The cheese I added after the first bite...

At First Sight: It's a double burger, which I like, but it's the same amount of meat as most burgers and thinner patties, we weren't asked and did not get to order the medium-rare meat. The onions were real sliced onions, the bun toasted. Fries are those hand cut peel-on-the-end fries. I added in onion straws for variety. You get a LOT of fries. Did I mention the place is clean?

At First Bite: Flavor combination was good. The double burger had a good meaty flavor, not juicy but not overcooked. A good flavor on first bite but I was expecting something a little more memorable. The cheese I added on the second bit but 'official first bite' of the cheeseburger. It made me think of my hometown cheeseburgers. I think some more grease may have helped it.

The Finish: I got a good fastfood burger... but I paid a little more for it. I was REALLY rooting for these guys. The backstory story about the place is great and don't get me wriong the food is not BAD. I would rather go here than a lot of other places. And it looks cool. But when I finally got there? It made me want to find a better burger.

Score: 7.00
Quick edit... ok, it feels like piling on but maybe my disappointment is exponentially increasing. The more I think about it, the more the score drops. Check out my comment to Mary's post, but in the afterglow and now disppointment... my score is lower and it COULD be have been even Lower, but I was REALLY hoping this was a great burger! New score: 6.0

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 3: Burgers-n-Cream - Mary's Notes

Today was Higgins' choice and he picked a franchise place in Cool Springs. Although we are mainly Nash-centric on this, we will occasionally investigate chain burgers for you. And us.

Apparently there's a story behind this fast-casual-style restaurant and I'll let Higgins tell you about that, if he chooses. I'm here to tell you about the burgers.

Juiciness - eh ... what's that? Typical of what you'd get in a fast-food place. It wasn't dry, it just wasn't juicy, but there's a reason for it: your basic BNC burger is actually what you'd get when you order a double at BK or McDs or Sonic. That said, it wasn't exactly dry. 3.

Flavor - Actually, it was very tasty and beefy. It probably helped to have all that cooking area (two patties) exposed to the grill. 9.

Attractiveness - 7, and the lettuce was done right. Not pre-shredded, not wilting. Something I want to be anal about, here: lettuce should go on the top when there's not a tomato in the vicinity, in my experience. A number of places increasingly put lettuce on the bottom of the burger, which is great when you don't need your toppings sliding around on the cheese, but I think a lot of places copy the action without understanding the reasons for it. Just sayin'.

Atmosphere - I didn't really care for the set-up and decor, it was like eating in a cafeteria. It was clean-looking, I'll give 'em that.  5

Digestivity - Unfortunately, I can still taste my burger a small bit, five hours later. The good news is that at least it did taste good. 5

Overall experience: 5. I would return, if I was with someone who insisted. The set-up is similar to places where you place and pay for your order at the front and a server brings it to you later, while not exactly waiting on you. Considering that, I'm not sure this is what I'd expect of a $6 burger. Seems if you're going to pay that much, you ought to be able to get a margarita or a Yazoo to go with it.

on edit: I'm taking it down to 4 and here's why: Higgins' cheeseburger didn't come with cheese. Ordinarily, when a restaurant — even a fast-food place — messes up your order, they will take it back in the kitchen and fix it. Instead, BNC brought the cheese slices to us and Higgins had to insert them, himself. Poor form.

Burgers -n- Cream on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dalt's - The Next Step

Butter is "...the most delicate of foods among barbarous nations, and one which distinguishes the wealthy from the multitude at large."Pliny

Dalt’s on White Bridge road served up a mean burger. I am a big guy, I like a bigger burger, they delivered. I am still calculating a score as I prepare this missive… let’s go with the flow:
The Digs: We got there early and the place filled up for lunch quickly. It’s clean, a little sterile but comfortable. You can hold a conversation there but plan on crowd noise. The waitress got the food to the table quickly and took care of us, stuff like that doesn’t REALLY affect a burger taste (but you know it really does.)

At First Sight: The burger LOOKED nice. It came open faced with diced onions on one side and burger and cheese on the other. And I must add a buttered grilled bun looks great. Since I am a mustard-onion-pickle guy I was disappointed that the ‘pickle’ was a pickle spear. I don’t mind that I had to put on my own mustard, but how hard is that? The problem was construction. My diced onions flew all over the table when I tried to put my ‘onion-sided’ bun on my ‘burger-sided’ bun.

At First Bite: I never had a Dalt’s burger before so this was new territory the burger was Medium Rare done right. I have had juicier (I only needed my one napkin.)There was some spice in it - more than just salt and pepper that lingered with the meat after every bite. The buttered and grilled bun took me back to hometown burgers. The cheese made it almost a creamy texture, great for a cheeseburger like this. I missed my ‘perfect taste’ of onion, mustard and pickle (pickle spear, no pickles on the burger) but the BURGER flavor made up for this.

The Finish: Dalt’s was impressive. It’s a great place to lunch or take the Fam, NOT a place to carouse. Flavorful burger, condiments have something to be desired (diced onions are not the best to put on a burger.) Burger flavor? Great. I have no problem talking the time to construct my own burger but I sure make a mess for the waitress to clean up!

Score out of 10 points: 8.75

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 2: Dalt's - Mary's Notes

Dalt's is one of those places that's so ingrained in your knowledge, if you've lived in Nashville for any length of time, that you almost feel as though you never have to actually eat there to understand the experience and appeal. If that makes sense. ie, it just seems like a standby place in a standby location (White Bridge Road, by Target) that's going to get plenty of traffic no matter what, so you don't expect a whole lot. Dalt's was a surprise. A nice one.

Juiciness: 5. This is where the Dalt's burger got its lowest mark. It was plenty moist, but not very juicy at all, especially for a cooked-to-order medium rare. A few drips on my plate. At least it wasn't dry, though.

Flavor: 8. The bun may have been the greater contributing factor; it was buttered & grilled and added a minor saltiness to each bite. Overall it was a really well-balanced taste (like last week, fixings were mustard and lettuce and cheese - American).

Attractiveness: 6. Pretty bun, good-looking burger but again - factory-shredded lettuce that spills out all over the place. What's up with that?

Atmosphere: 8. Classic-diner-come family restaurant look and we got to eat in a booth.

Digestivity: 8. I didn't feel bloated or groggy at all and could actually concentrate fairly well an hour after eating. On the downside, several hours later, I still feel like I had a burger for lunch. You know what I mean.

Overall: 8. I'd easily return for another.

Dalts Classic American Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Brown's Diner - Higgins Odyssey

“Hunger is insolent, and will be fed” HOMER - Smyrns of Chios
"A pot is cook, but the food no 'nough;" Bob Marley - Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)

The Odyssey has begun, and we are looking for the best cheeseburger in Nashville. Without a lot of rhetoric, I like food, I like to eat and I love a good cheeseburger; medium to medium rare if I can get it. But it doesn't matter; a good burger is a good burger. I don’t have a lot of expectations or requirements for the Best Cheeseburger in Nashville, but I think it unfair to say "I'll know it when I taste it." So I will lay out some things I look for...

The burger itself, flavor (beefiness?) texture and how it tastes after I finish that first bite.
I never have been a 'bun-man' and if the bun overpowers the burger what's the point? My condiments-of-choice are mustard, onion and pickle. That's how Bennies Burger Barn and the Drinkery in my hometown served them and that's how it should be. However, if the condiments overpower the burger, again, why have a burger at all? So what we are looking for is a taste combination of meat and cheese that is only complimented by anything else it has with it. (Fries shouldn't be a part of the equation but I am partial to those of the crinkle cut or steak variety.)

On with the Show:

First up is Brown's Diner on Blair Boulevard, off of 21st Avenue South. It fits the definition of 'greasy bar' and 'Everyone' has been there. It was easy to order medium rare (no problems with that order here) and The Cheeseburger came to the table in short order.

Mary says: If Codes goes after them because you published "medium-rare," it's all your fault, you know ....

The Digs: I love the feel of the place. I can slow down and NOT have wi-fi. It is dark place to escape the real world for a while.

At First Sight: It looked like a greasy bar burger (no misconceptions here) not a particularly BIG burger (maybe a quarter pound) on a white plate next to some shoe-string fries.

Mary says: you think? I haven't been in McD's in years, but thought it was a little more than 1/4. Perfect size, whatever it was.

At First Bite: A REALLY Medium Rare piece of meat (someone on the grill knows how to cook medium rare!) and tasted like a Burger. Plan on extra napkins it's nice and greasy (that's a compliment.) Good meaty, beefy flavor that hits the taste buds and then, sadly, it becomes just another burger.

Mary says: really good description on the what the flavor does.

The Finish: The Brown's Diner Cheeseburger has a great reputation. If you want a greasy need-extra-napkins burger this is the place. This burger was good, and it stayed good after the meal but it makes me want to find THAT burger. I'll come back, but I’ll keep looking.

Score out of 10 points: 7.5

Day One: Brown's Diner - Mary's Notes

Brown's Diner habitually scores near the top of most published Nashville "best burger" lists, so we went there first. I had a regular cheeseburger with mustard and lettuce.

7. A tiny bit to the point of greasy, but not enough to complain about. I got 3-4 dribbles on my shirt.

6. Nothing to write home about, but still superior compared to the average Nashville burger. It did have some of the beefiness one used to taste before the cattle industry went nuts.

4. Honestly, it was kind of sad-looking. The lettuce was the pre-shredded variety and not the freshest.

8. Awesome dive. Dark, wood-paneled room with tile ceilings and you just know the place would have been completely filled with smoke back in the days when it was still legal to be. Also, great service from our waitress and I might add that my burger was cooked perfectly to order.

8. For right now. There's still another nine minutes to go, but overall I'm pretty clear-headed and non-lethargic.

7. An additional pleaser was a normal-person-sized drinking glass, Pepsi - not Coke, an anomaly in the South - and no straw to encourage over-indulgence.

Brown's Diner on Urbanspoon

The Great Burger Odyssey

Just a short while ago, morning traffic guy Michael Higgins and I went to Brown's Diner for the first installment of The Great Burger Odyssey. It's our quest to try to find out who really does have the best burger in Nashville. We intend to meet once a week to suss out what's out there and report back.

The first order of business was to try to decide exactly what the burgers are to be graded on. Higgins will report later on his yardsticks, but mine are these:

Flavor - hamburger flavor.
Digestivity - how do I feel an hour after I've eaten?
Overall experience

First tasting notes are on the way.