Review #9: The Corner Tavern and Grill (Cary)
- Joint: The Corner Tavern and Grill
- Burger: Corner Burger (Scott and John), Mickey Burger (Michael)
- Burger Category: Classic Rocks
Corner Burger (Classic Rocks with a twist…pretzel twist, that is)
Now that I got that out of my system, let’s get down to business.
The Corner Grill & Tavern in Cary made it onto our review agenda strictly because it served a cheeseburger with Angus beef on a pretzel roll. Other than that, we knew little, and we liked the idea of not knowing what to expect.
Many of your strip-mall pubs do a pretty good job of creating a world apart by painting the plate-glass black or by other means of making them opaque, then overwhelming you with sports visuals or Irish/English décor and relics. Inside them, you quickly forget that you’re parked in front of a nail salon, UPS store, and grocery chain.
Not at the Corner T&G. We sat at a table along the clear glass façade, and I had an unobstructed view down the storefronts and directly into what, if I remember correctly, was some sort of salon or lady’s shop. Inside the Corner, there was low recessed lighting, various sports on the refreshingly distributed flat-screens that didn’t compete with one another in a cacophony of sight and sound, and the occasional glow of a neon beer sign. A secondary set of back doors let the light pour in and led to outdoor seating on a patio, distinguishing this place even further from the many dark-hole otherworldly pubs in strip malls.
Hence, apart from feeling a bit more open and less over-decorated than typical strip-mall pubs, and the little done-before culinary kinkiness of serving a sandwich on a pretzel roll (think Bennigan’s), the Corner didn’t present many ostensible reasons to get all hot and bothered at the start of things.
So many times in life, I’m reminded to get to know someone, or something, a little better before passing judgment. After getting to know the Corner Tavern & Grill a bit better that night, I can tell you that that pretzel roll was soft and steamy and made a uniquely delicious and functional vehicle for everything in between. And in between was pretty special as well: fresh Angus beef, as promised, cooked to temperature and blessed with melted cheese and fresh vegetables so happily in the proper build order (tomato juices blending with the mayo as they should). There was surprisingly significant burger pleasure here, bordering on bliss. I’d classify this as a Classic Rocks cheeseburger, though the pretzel roll is a little out of category and would make it one that I probably wouldn’t eat with high frequency, opting instead to have it as a change of pace.
That said, it’s a strong 4 out of 5, and I recommend that you get one from time to time. Exceptional service, with multiple staff members checking with us on the quality of our meal, including a very friendly sport of a young waiter that held his own in quick MLB banter with Dr. Blumenthal. Based on our initial visit, the Corner is nice, clean, unassuming and open, with friendly people, great service, and a damn fine cheeseburger (not to mention the wings).
A Note to The Corner T&G: “Fresh burger grilled to your liking served with tomato, lettuce and onion” on your menu doesn’t do this cheeseburger justice. Go ahead and brag a little.
Corner Burger (classic rocks)
So often in life we’re unpleasantly surprised. We choose the grocery line that moves four inches per hour. We go to the movie that was hyped beyond reason but was insipid beyond description. Our flight to Bermuda, where we’re going to finally get a weekend to relax, is canceled, and when we finally gets there it rains both days—and it turns out that the hotel has “four stores,” not “four stars,” and the guy at the desk is from Uruguay and doesn’t speak English and can’t follow your request not to be on the same floor as the Wisconsin Youth Soccer League on spring break.
Sometimes, however, we’re pleasantly surprised.
Truth be told, I hadn’t heard of The Corner Tavern and Grill before it was recommended by John’s wife Kim, one of the Straight Beef Ladies (don’t Google it). I went in with no prejudice, no expectations, no preconceived notions, and no expectations—just a deep, burgiatric hunger that only beef, buns, and fixins can satisfy.
I remember being literally surprised—pleasantly—when I took my first bite of the Corner Burger. Big, flavorful beef, two fat tomato slices, crispy lettuce, all between a chewy pretzel bun. I remember pointing to the burger and saying, “Hey—that’s good.” As we ate we were visited by no fewer than five employees, all of whom were concerned with our being happy and well fed. Big kudos, CTG, on your great service.
All told, the Corner Burger was a solid 4.25 out of 5. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a fine all-around burger outing, especially to those who have stood in the grocery line way too long—and are ready for a pleasant surprise.
The Mickey Burger (classic rocks)
Upon arriving, the hostess advised us to sit inside, as they only available outside table was in the bright sun. Just one example of the great service we received that night.
Before we knew it, our courteous, knowledgeable server brought out our appetizers: Lemon Pepper First Inning Wings and Buffalo Shrimp. I was a big fan of the lemon pepper wings. Zesty and crispy. (As a side note, they have $0.35 wings every Sunday all year round. This might have to be a repeat destination during football season.)
For the main course, I went with the Mickey’s burger, a 10-ounce Angus patty topped with applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, and American cheese. (Man, I wish our nation’s restaurants would get off the applewood bacon kick. What ever happened to plain old salty bacon? But I digress.) For me, what made the burger was the pretzel roll. It had a pleasant firm yet chewy consistency. It held everything together without falling apart or getting soggy.
Over the course of the meal, five different people came up to us to ask us how we were doing, one of them being who I think was the busboy. That’s how dedicated they are to good service.
With first-class customer service and a more than solid burger, I give it a 4.25 out of 5. I can’t wait to go back.