Budding Burgiatrist Breathes Cy of Relief
The Straight Beef was recently contacted by Duke School student Cy Neff, who chose food criticism—burger reviewing in particular—as the subject for his eighth grade project. Cy impressed us immediately, from his interest in condiment placement to his mention of the “ongoing crusade against kaiser rolls” to his assertion that “the only thing better than eating a burger is intelligently eating a burger.” The young man was clearly wise beyond his years.
We had the pleasure of meeting with Cy and teaching him some burgiatric ropes. A few weeks later, he sent us the review below—his own take on TSB’s highest-ranked burger joint, Chuck’s (downtown Raleigh). Remember Cy’s name. You’ll want to say you knew him when.
Review of Chuck’s
by Cy Neff, guest burgiatrist
This review has been a painful experience for me. Why? Because Chuck’s was quite the opposite.
The first time I went to Chuck’s, it was because of all the glowing reviews, all of the great things I’d heard about it. I was not disappointed. I boldly declared to my teachers that this was the restaurant I’d review for my project, and that I’d go back as soon as possible. As soon as I said it, I realized my mistake. My mistake? Chuck’s makes one of the best burgers—if not the best burger—I’ve had in my life. But there was my dilemma. Who likes writing a positive review when criticizing a bad one is so much more fun?
So I hoped and hoped that maybe my first Chuck’s experience was a fluke. Maybe it was pure luck and coincidence that my burger was perfectly cooked. It was probably also a fluke that the chocolate cake milkshake was as good as advertised, if not better. And the fact that everyone else seemed to have a great burger there? Obviously coincidence.
On my return trip to Chuck’s, I was once again disappointed. Once again, the unnaturally comfortable wooden chairs and the seamless blend of black, red, and white colors with the music in the background created a frustratingly well-fitting atmosphere. Once again, the milkshake was outstanding. The half-pound Belgian fries were the only thing that didn’t warrant a 10 out of 10, but even they were saved by their sauces (a variety of aiolis, mayos, and mustards), which were an 11. My last hope for even some mediocrity was the burger.
I opted for a classic, with pickles, onions, tomatoes—all the stuff that usually comes with one. The burger arrived. My hopes for anything less than perfection were ripped out, stomped into the ground, and steamrolled. The middle of the meat was a perfect pink, its flavor not drowned out by the toppings. Aside from being the best burger I’ve ever had, it left me with one question: Chuck’s burgers are perfectly charred on the entire outside. Not just the top, not just the bottom, the same level of perfect char all around. How do they manage that? I don’t know, but does it really matter? The burger is a picture of perfection, so I’ll definitely be back.