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The Never Ending Quest For The Perfect Hamburger...


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#1 hutchman

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Posted 26 June 2008 - 11:52 PM

I am a hamburgeraholic.......there I've said it.......it's out in the open. I am not ashamed as I cannot help it - it is a disease and I am taking treatment. As part of successful program I must confront the demon and describe my reactions to the best burgers I find. The following is my first, but not my last hamburger review:

I posted this first in the Steak N' Shake thread, but realized that I am a hamburger nut and love to try new burgers given the chance. So if you have already read this review, I apologize, but I assure you there will be many more to come!

As a kid we used to stop at SnS in Peoria on the way to my grandparents. I have never forgotten those burgers, maybe the best ever. Flash forward to last week when I was in Illinois due to a family illness. I took a trip to see an aunt who is 92 and in poor health. On the way back to Hillsboro, I stopped on the west side of St. Louis and tried a couple of SnS Double Cheese Burgers. I must say they are still the best fast food available.........IMHO of course. They will give some specialty burgers a run for their money on taste.

But you may ask why are they special? I watched the cook make my burgers on a plain griddle. He took a pre-made patty about the shape and size of a hockey puck. As he placed it on the grill, he formed the patty a specific way using a spatula and fork for pressure. The resulting patty on the grill was about the size of a normal hamburger bun, but the secret to the taste I think is the way the patty is formed.......it is paper thin on the edge and thicker in the middle. The burger was allowed to cook on the grill until it was a golden brown and then turned. It was cooked a similar amount of time on the other side and placed on the toasted bun with the requested condiments.

What makes it special is the effect the shape of the formed patty has on the finished product. The edge is a crispy golden brown while the center is very juicy with the expected texture of a well done, but not overcooked burger. The first bite is has a combination of the crispy crunch of the edge and the juicy well done center! It is a combination that I have not encountered anywhere else. I rate it a solid 9 out of 10 based on both texture and taste!

This review is the first review on the never ending quest for the perfect burger...........


Edited by hutchman, 27 June 2008 - 12:22 PM.


#2 brownwho63

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 07:20 AM

[quote name='hutchman' date='Jun 27 2008, 12:52 AM' post='10562']
As a kid we used to stop at SnS in Peoria


I, too, had my first sns burger in Peoria; 1958 I believe. That was also my first time to have chili mac, a dish I like as much as the burger itself. We still stop at sns whenever we're on the road and in search for decent, quick food.

Other burgers or burger-type sandwiches I like are:

(a) Maid Rite onion and mustard crumbly meat with pickle.
(cool.gif McDonald's old-timey "regular" burger. I know, I know but they still taste good to me.
© White Castle once or twice annually, especially after a few brews.
(d) Most "bar burgers" - These are usually grilled right behind the bar and can be ordered as special or as plain as desired. We usually order them thin with lettuce, tomato, onion and the bun also placed on the grill to soak up some of the grease. (My doctor would be so proud!)
(e) Wimpy's cheeseburger with Wimpy sauce, mostly thousand island dressing. These are no longer available because the joint folded.

Best roadie food for me, though, is fresh diner meatloaf with mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans....Bliss

#3 roadmaven

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 08:41 AM

Steak n Shake will always be a good friend to my tummy. However, there are some new joints popping up that have garnered our affection. But first, if I was forced to pick a burger for the rest of my life, I think it'd have to be a McDonald's cheeseburger. Just something about it....aside from there being any actual "meat" in it.....it's a perfect combination of onion, pickle, ketchup, and mustard.

Now for the list of newer good places:
--Culver's. This is a chain that was started I believe in Wisconsin. Their "Butter Burgers" are right on par with SnS, plus, they have a full menu of various frozen custard. They have their own root beer as well, which has an excellent creamy taste along the lines of A&W.

--Five Guys Burgers & Fries. I think this was a chain started on the east coast and is making its way to the midwest. Indy has two locations (West 86th Street and US 31 South in Greenwood for our Indy members). They have the freshest buns around and their fries are on par with the great fries at Penn Station Deli. One warning when ordering fries, the regular size is MORE than enough for two people. They just keep heaping them in the sack.

--96th Street Steakburgers. Another Indy joint with two or three locations. Along the lines of a SnS, but with a VERY simplistic menu of essentially just steakburgers, fries, drinks, and shakes. Been around for 3 or 4 years.

--Of course no list of good burger joints in Indy wouldn't be comlete without mentioning Mug n Bun. Indy's oldest drive-in where they serve all sorts of deep fried goodness.....including my new favorite: mac & cheese wedges. Also the only place I've seen sell chuckwagon sandwiches since my elementary school! Mug n Bun faced pressure from the "new" Dog & Suds chains that came through Indy 10 years ago which subsequently became Sonics. There was one located less than 2 miles from Mug n Bun and they survived them. Sonic left town and that drive-in's still sitting vacant. Plus Mug n Bun is a "neighbor" just a mile away, so we have to give them some love. ready2eat.gif



#4 mobilene

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 12:50 PM

Anywhere I go across this great nation, the Denny's cheeseburger is an old friend to me. The thing probably has 2,458,162,307 calories, 90% of which are fat, but I don't care, the things are wonderful.

Best cheeseburger I <i>ever</i> had was in San Antonio, TX. My ex-brother-in-law grew up there and took me out to this joint, the name of which escapes me, that had the juiciest and most flavorful half-pound of beef topped with cheddar I've ever had. The thing was so dripping in fat that my arteries instantly hardened.

jim

#5 brownwho63

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 08:28 AM

[quote name='hutchman' date='Jun 26 2008, 11:52 PM' post='10562']

This review is the first review on the never ending quest for the perfect burger...........


The home-cooked or grilled burger also warrants some consideration. I've done some good ones and several bad ones. What I've learned from this: (oh no, another Bliss list)

(1) Use fresh ground sirloin or chuck. The popular lean stuff doesn't have enough fat content to create good burger flavor. The patty itself should be thin for better results and will require only a short time to cook.
(2) A charcoal-grilled burger will have a great smokey flavor but will usually be dry unless you grill using indirect heat after searing both sides and spritz regularly with a combination of water and apple cider vinegar. You'll usually get a better tasting burger if you use a preheated old-timey iron skillet and Canola oil splashed with Worcestershire sauce and a cheap burgundy. Add a liberal amount of salt and pepper to the meat and throw some onions, garlic, and mushrooms into the skillet. Add these to the finished burger along with tomato, lettuce, and/or hot mustard, catsup. or BBQ sauce. Toast the bun as well. Flip the burger once and cook to desired level.
(3) If you prefer a more "liquid" burger, grill or cook as above and then add the finished burger to a covered container that can withstand direct heat. Cover the bottom and the burgers with your favorite BBQ sauce and let simmer for 20 or 30 minutes but don't allow the container to become dry. Add sauce as necessary.
(4) Whatever method is used will be much more successful if the chef has a cold brew at hand.





#6 mobilene

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 11:38 AM

Ok, now wait, every time I try to fry a burger in my iron skillet, it ruins the skillet's seasoning, and I have to scrub it clean and reseason it. How can I avoid that?

#7 brownwho63

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 06:17 AM

QUOTE (mobilene @ Jun 28 2008, 12:38 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ok, now wait, every time I try to fry a burger in my iron skillet, it ruins the skillet's seasoning, and I have to scrub it clean and reseason it. How can I avoid that?



You shouldn't have to scrub the skillet if you've used enough oil. Just let the oil cool when you're finished cooking and wipe it out with a paper towel. If this doesn't clean the skillet as well as you like after you've wiped out the oil and drippings, sprinkle in some salt, add a thin covering of water, reheat the skillet, gently use a fork to loosen anything that's stubborn, pour out the liquid, and it should be as good as new. Sometimes it's then necessary to wipe in some new oil with a paper towel but not usually....Bliss

#8 hutchman

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 05:45 PM

Today my father and I had a burger at Red Robin. For those of you who have never been to one, they have an extensive menu of what they term "gourmet' hamburgers. However, they seemed to have changed to a "cook a bunch of patties and microblast them when ordered" establishment. Something has changed them over the last few years as they burger itself is only barely adequate in the taste department. At best it is forgettable.......so sad as they used to be a very good burger.

I ordered a "Whiskey River" Burger which is a 1/4 pound burger with crinkly onions, I order sauteed instead, cheddar cheese, lettuce, mayo, and their secret BBQ sauce. The bun was fresh and condiments were good, but the burger itself reduces the rating of the burger like I stated to "forgettable" at best. This should result in a rating on the "Hutch Scale" of 2 or 3, but at Red Robin you get the best steak fries I have ever tasted.....and they are unlimited. The fries bring the rating to a solid 4......not great but not bad either.

#9 roadmaven

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 06:41 PM

I think we've got one of those in nearby Avon, IN. The mention of a gourmet burger joint reminds me of the days of Fuddrucker's and Flakey Jake's.

QUOTE (hutchman @ Jun 30 2008, 05:45 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Today my father and I had a burger at Red Robin. For those of you who have never been to one, they have an extensive menu of what they term "gourmet' hamburgers. However, they seemed to have changed to a "cook a bunch of patties and microblast them when ordered" establishment. Something has changed them over the last few years as they burger itself is only barely adequate in the taste department. At best it is forgettable.......so sad as they used to be a very good burger.

I ordered a "Whiskey River" Burger which is a 1/4 pound burger with crinkly onions, I order sauteed instead, cheddar cheese, lettuce, mayo, and their secret BBQ sauce. The bun was fresh and condiments were good, but the burger itself reduces the rating of the burger like I stated to "forgettable" at best. This should result in a rating on the "Hutch Scale" of 2 or 3, but at Red Robin you get the best steak fries I have ever tasted.....and they are unlimited. The fries bring the rating to a solid 4......not great but not bad either.



#10 Chris Rowland

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 03:21 PM

QUOTE (roadmaven @ Jun 27 2008, 08:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Steak n Shake will always be a good friend to my tummy.

Have you tried the Workingman's Friend at 234 N. Belmont Avenue in Indianapolis? I think they have some of the best cheeseburgers in town. They are definitely Steak 'n' Shake style, really thin and delicious!



Chris

#11 roadmaven

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 08:12 PM

QUOTE (Chris Rowland @ Jul 7 2008, 04:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Have you tried the Workingman's Friend at 234 N. Belmont Avenue in Indianapolis?


I've been meaning to get there. Those O-rings look highly worthy of a heart cath as well! Jake Query from WIBC got me hooked on Five Guys and he mentioned Workingman's Friend is on par with SnS. Another sleeper here in town is the Peppy Grill on Virginia Avenue in Fountain Square. The one time we were there, Marion County hadn't gone "smoke free" & that place was like eating in a chimney! I think we need to get mobilene and all of us meet up at some of these joints for some burger sampling and road chat. burgereater.gif

BTW Chris, how was the US 52 journey??

#12 Chris Rowland

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 06:56 AM

QUOTE (roadmaven @ Jul 7 2008, 08:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
BTW Chris, how was the US 52 journey??


I'm going to have to head down to the Peppy Grill for lunch sometime this month...

The US 52 journey was great! It was very scenic and direct. I finished uploading pictures last night and hope to post the write-up by tonight.

We did go to the Launching Pad in Wilmington, IL, as you suggested, but my wife was definitely not impressed by the staff. The food was tasty enough, though. (Read more if you dare)

Chris

#13 roadmaven

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 08:02 AM

QUOTE (Chris Rowland @ Jul 8 2008, 06:56 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We did go to the Launching Pad in Wilmington, IL, as you suggested, but my wife was definitely not impressed by the staff. The food was tasty enough, though. (Read more if you dare)


YIKES! I owe you all a lunch after reading that! It's been a couple of years since we've been in the Pad and I've been there countless times over the past 10 years. Never had that kind of experience. But, I believe it was sold over the past year or two, so apparently ownership isn't the only thing that changed there. In hindsight, I would've told you to head 5 miles south and try the Polka Dot Drive-In in Braidwood. Looking forward to reading the rest of the trip!


#14 Chris Rowland

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 03:07 PM

QUOTE (roadmaven @ Jul 8 2008, 09:02 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Never had that kind of experience. But, I believe it was sold over the past year or two, so apparently ownership isn't the only thing that changed there.

I think the experience would have been pleasant enough if we hadn't gotten there just before an incident occurred. You don't really know what people are like until they are put into a situation like that and you watch how they react. I don't think their reaction was that different than employees of most places would have been in similar circumstances. We just happened to be there at a bad time where what we might have typically dismissed as lack of friendliness was exposed as callousness. Maybe they had started out in a bad attitude because they had to work on a holiday, anyway.

I don't want to discourage anyone from eating at The Launching Pad or enjoying it--but it kind of burst our bubble. I liked to imagine that 'Mom and Pop' types of places would treat customers with a little more interest.

On our trip, we did enjoy almost a dozen other local diners and cafes that were spectacular!

Chris

#15 hutchman

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 10:14 PM

I had another good burger a couple of days ago at an Inca's Mexican restaurant of all places. It was a hand made patty that appeared to be a good 1/2 pound prior to cooking. It came with a sharp cheddar cheese and bacon in addition to all the usual stuff. I could find absolutely nothing wrong with it.......very tasty, great flavor, fresh lettuce and bread, and the fries were excellent.

It rates a solid 7.5 on the Hutch scale..........!

#16 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 11:33 PM

QUOTE (hutchman @ Jul 20 2008, 08:14 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I had another good burger a couple of days ago at an Inca's Mexican restaurant of all places. It was a hand made patty that appeared to be a good 1/2 pound prior to cooking. It came with a sharp cheddar cheese and bacon in addition to all the usual stuff. I could find absolutely nothing wrong with it.......very tasty, great flavor, fresh lettuce and bread, and the fries were excellent.

It rates a solid 7.5 on the Hutch scale..........!



Hutch,

Sounds excellent....and can we all use the Hutch scale or is proprietary? smile.gif

Keep the Show on the Road!

Dave

#17 hutchman

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 10:57 AM

QUOTE (Keep the Show on the Road! @ Jul 20 2008, 09:33 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hutch,

Sounds excellent....and can we all use the Hutch scale or is proprietary? smile.gif

Keep the Show on the Road!

Dave


No, it is not proprietary, but certainly subjective.

BTW, the burger at Inca's was only $4.95.....! ohmy.gif What a great value!


#18 hutchman

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 11:27 PM

The Streamliner Restaurant aka, Howell's Cafe in Huntington, OR has a great burger called the Streamliner.........seems somehow appropriate! This is a 1/2 pound of real hamburger with 4 kinds of cheese, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, pickles, and mayo on a sourdough bun. It is to kill for.......! It drips real grease and almost more fat than your heart can stand. I recommend this one as it rates a solid 9 on the Hutch Scale!

Sorry though, no pictures.

#19 hutchman

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 01:47 AM

Been away for a while.........

Jerry, from PNW Backroads, and I met last Monday while I had my WJ serviced. On the agenda was a burger.......but not just any burger........an L&L Burger from the tiny drive in on the east side of Grandview, WA.

We arrived and walked up to the walk up window.......you can't eat in. I asked the little lady what she recommended and from the back of the store came a voice....Have a DAGWOOD! Jerry and I each ordered one.

When it came, it turned out to be a heart stopper. 2 patties, must have been 1/3 pound each, onions, lettuce, pickles, cheese, ham, mayo, and tomatoes on a large bun. Neither Jerry nor I had tomatoes, but crap it was good. If you like meat, this is one of the best.

The flavor was great, the presentation was so-so, but sitting on a bench outside was great. I give this one a solid 8 on the Hutch scale......!

the L&L Drive In in Grandview is highly recommended!


#20 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 08:53 AM

Hutch,

Good to see you back on the forum! And now I have a stop in Grandview!

Sheila and I took a spin a week or so ago via Lexington, Heppner, Ukiah, Granite, Sumpter, Baker City, and almost to Twin Falls, and of course tracked the Oregon Trail a bit. We stopped in Huntington and of course had a burger, with thoughts of your write up.

Keep the Show on the Road!

Dave






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