"You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars." Charles Kuralt

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Cheeburger Cheeburger

So, Saturday, August 11, 2007 found me in Hunt Valley, MD. My wife Lisa, my brother Sean and I were there to attend Horrorfind Weekend 8. Now, I’d been to a bunch of horrorcons lately, and I was really getting burnt on the whole concept. I was strictly there on the promise of meeting Malcolm McDowell.
We made a pilgrimage to the Waffle House on the way to the show, and I was feeling it. Two eggs with bacon and toast would have been reasonable on its own. But no, I had to have triple hashbrowns scattered, smothered, covered and chunked. What can I say? I live in a non-Waffle House state, so I take my opportunities when they come.

The show turned out to be a good time. I met some cool people and saw lots of neat stuff. Some of the get-ups in the costume contest were impressive. There was even a little haunted house. On the whole, a good time was had by all.

Then it was time for dinner. Now, I don’t know the area at all, and I didn’t do my usual research ahead of time, so the only thing for it was to get in the car and see what there was to see. What we saw was the Hunt Valley Towne Center. Overall, there was a decent selection of chain restaurants.

Lisa is a vegetarian. Has been, going on 25 years now. This can sometimes limit our restaurant choices, so it helps if there are a variety of places to choose from. This location definitely had that variety. The first place Lisa saw that was acceptable was the Chipotle Mexican Grill. I asked if we could look around a little more. The next place we found was Noodles & Company. This was the place. Or at least it would have been had I not made my discovery.

Hidden on the upper level in the corner was Cheeburger, Cheeburger, a growing regional burger chain that I had up until that point never heard of. This would be my place. Still, to be fair to all, we went back to Noodles & Company. Sean and Lisa were very happy with their meals. I would go back and try it myself the next time. In retrospect, I should have joined the rest of my party for dinner right then and there.

Now for those of you who don’t know, Cheeburger, Cheeburger has that retro-neon diner-like thing going on, kinda like Ruby’s or Johnny Rocket’s. There was a lot of bragging going on about how they were voted the best burger here, there and everywhere by whomever it is that votes for burgers. I figured that at worst the burgers would be average.
The burger at the top of the menu was the "Pounder”, weighing in at 20 ounces pre-cooked. Anyone who finishes one get their picture on “The Wall of Fame” while holding a ginormous stuffed cheeseburger. How could I resist? Lisa, my otherwise militant vegetarian wife, actually encourages this sort of behavior. I suspect that she just likes me to look silly in public. Normally, when I want to load up on beef she will usually express her concern for my colorectal health and then leave me to eat in peace. At least she doesn’t try to bury my dinner in the backyard.
So I ordered a Pounder, medium, with pickles and two onion rings on it. They warn you ahead of time that because it is so large and cooked fresh, that it will take a little while. No problem. All good things are worth the wait.

When my Pounder finally arrived, it looked impressive.It was large, smothered in cheese and loaded with pickles.
The roll was quality, and held together pretty well. It all smelled pretty good, too. They do waste an awful lot of olives by toothpicking them to every burger, however. Olives don’t belong anywhere near a cheeseburger, and that’s all I have to say on the matter.After adding some ketchup, I was ready to eat.(I’m not getting involved in the argument over whether or not using condiments disqualifies someone from being a burger purist. It’s just silly. Eat what you like.)

As soon as I took my first bite I knew that I was in trouble.It just wasn’t good. I can’t comment with any authority on the overall quality of the meat. But, I can tell you that it tasted like something that probably should have been served yesterday, because today just wasn’t in its future. Quality beef isn’t supposed to be that gamey. It also had that heavy, greasy taste that leads me to suspect the grill hadn’t been scraped in a while.

It was hard to get down. From early on I suffered from that grease-gag that makes you chew and chew in order to avoid swallowing, which finally requires a swig of some liquid to accomplish the task. But get it down I did. My super-friendly waiter came out with a Polaroid, handed me the giant plush cheeseburger and snapped one for the wall.I won’t lie. It took work; way too much work. And when I was done, the only thing that I was happy about was that I didn’t have to taste it anymore. I really wanted to at least like it. I feel a little bad that I didn’t. On the face of it, the Pounder had such promise. All the parts added up to a clear winner. All, but the most important part: the taste.

I just learned that Cheeburger, Cheeburger is opening a location in my area. Although I won’t be beating a path to their door, I may consider giving them another chance. I won’t, however, be getting the biggest thing on the menu. If something a little more economical turns out good, then I might be persuaded to try the big burger one more time. But if I ever eat at the Hunt Valley Towne Center again, I’ll be going to Noodles & Company.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We have several Cheeburger Cheeburger's here in the Memphis area and they are all terrible. I think the only thing they have going for them is the kitschy picture wall.