Busy Bee Cafe (downtown Raleigh)
(This review was originally published on WRAL Out and About.)
It was already wrong on so many levels—ethical and legal among them—that we were following the Loaded Tots appetizer with three Loaded Tot burgers. So when our server asked what side dish we’d like, to a man we resisted temptation and took the higher ground: no side tots.
The Straight Beef routinely discusses the placement of a burger’s toppings—known in burgiatry as “the order of the build.” The Loaded Tot burger was the first burger we’ve had, however, that literally required construction. Erected upon its beef foundation was a tot ziggurat, topped with bacon balustrades, scallion stiles, and a sour cream sconce, alight with promises of burger bliss.
Alas, the structure’s base—the patty itself—did not support (in flavor or quality) the pyramid of cylindrical fried taters affixed upon it. Yes, the beef was cooked to our specifications—a surprisingly uncommon quality—but the taste was uninspiring. The patty was clearly prefabricated, too perfectly circular and homogeneously thick. It was of high quality in the spectrum of prefab patties, but not a proper pedestal for what was otherwise an inspired architectural homage to our beloved great American comfort food.
The fact that the burgers were served on kaiser rolls (really? kaiser rolls again? we throw up our hands on this subject) ensured that the burger, though reaching for the heavens, would keep its terra quite firma. A soft potato bun—or even sesame seed—might have emphasized the burger’s strengths and bumped it up a quarter to half point.
Despite its magnificence in blueprint—and its extraordinary design—in fruition the Loaded Tot did not distinguish itself amid the Triangle-area burger skyline.
But we will say this—a sentence we’ve neither uttered nor written before—about the Busy Bee: Best tots ever.
The Loaded Tot burger (score out of 5):