Review #92 – Village Deli & Grill (Raleigh, NC)

Village Deli & Grill and a New Focus on Takeout!

Back in February, before the Coronavirus pandemic shuttered restaurants and canceled dining out for the time being, Michael and Chad made it out to Village Deli and Grill on Lake Boone Trail. The locally owned chain also has locations in Cameron Village, Wake Forrest and Morrisville. For a restaurant known primarily for its breakfast and lunch offerings, the burgers were surprisingly good.

Chad had the Carolina Burger with chili, slaw and mustard, ordered medium. Michael had the Bacon Cheddar Burger, also ordered medium. Chad’s burger was on the more more medium well side of the doneness spectrum while Michael’s was a nearly perfect medium. Grill marks and a great crusty char around the edges were a nice surprise.

What the…?

There we go.

Though, Michael’s was cooked perfectly, the build was a mess. All the toppings were on the bottom, and the bacon, though very crisp, was put in a lazy X on top. Major renovation was required. As a refresher, from the bottom, it goes burger, cheese, bacon, onions, lettuce, tomato, condiments. Both burgers were a solid 3.75. Michael’s would have been a 4.25 if the build wasn’t a disaster.

Overall rating: 3.75 out of 5

Overall rank: 47 out of 92

But given that no one is going to be dining out for the foreseeable future, we have decided to take the It Takes a Village theme to heart and highlight some of our favorite places that are still offering takeout. We’re going to start with our old favorite Corbett’s. We have a little bit of a backlog, so be prepared for more posts than usual to come out over the next few days.

Bad Daddy’s Re-Review

The beginning of a new year often means new experiences, but The Straight Beef, being the contrarians that we are, decided it was best that we do a re-review of one of our most memorable burger visits, Bad Daddy’s. Memories of the first visit still haunt Reverend Don to this day, and he shies away from anything with the terms “Bad” and/or “Ass” associated with it. But knowing that one must face their demons to truly move on, he agreed to join his partners in burgiatry, Michael and Carolyn, for a re-review. What follows is an abridged transcript:

Rev: I almost didn’t come tonight. The pain is still fresh.

Michael: That was seven years ago…

Rev: Still too soon. I can remember we sat right there. (He points to a half booth next to the reviewers. Then proceeds to review the menu.)

Carolyn: Michael, does he always shake when he looks at the menu?

M: Special occasion…things didn’t end well the last time.

Rev: I am going simple and old school – make your own with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, cooked medium, can’t screw that up.

Reverend Donald faces his demons.

M: Pittsburgh for me.

C: Carolina it is.

Burgers come about ten minutes later:

Rev: Ok here goes… (Bites, checks to make sure it is fully cooked this time, chews, contemplates.) “Now that is nothing special. I mean, it barely has any taste. The patty is a tad dry, unseasoned, and a bit over-cooked. Closer to medium well, I think. Any one else getting a pronounced lack of flavor?

M: Flavor? No. However, they did manage to do almost everything wrong when it comes to the build. That’s something, right? A giant leaf of lettuce about 30% larger in area than the burger, a thick tomato slice, and about a quarter of a red onion all under the patty. By the time I was halfway through, it was all over the place.

Bad Daddy’s helping you get your daily supply of lettuce.

C: Holy heck, what is this thing on the plate? Some sort of mediocre yet voluminous mess, with an atrocious build and WAY too much of everything….except taste. Every single bite got worse than the bite before, and the first one was no delight. Even underneath all of the accouterments, the meat was bland and under-seasoned. 2.25.

M What I said about them in our previous review of them still stands. “If they were striving for mediocrity…, they nailed it.” 2.75

Rev: Ok it didn’t make me sick, and I did finish it this time. But I still don’t see why people love this place. 2.75

Re-review rating: 2.58 out of 5

Original rating: 2.63 out of 5

Combined rating: 2.61 out of 5

Overall updated rank: 77 out of 91

Reviews #90 and #91 – Shake Shack vs Square Burger

Shake Shack vs Fake Shack

Square Burger and Shake Shack are new entrants to the burger landscape of the Triangle. Shake Shack started in Madison Square in the early part of this century. They have decided to take their successful formula and branch out from its NYC environs and let people wait 45 minutes for a burger in other parts of the country. Shake Shack has a simple menu using simple ingredients, and they do it very well. Burgers, dogs, chicken sandwiches, fries, frozen custard, and various forms of those things. You may remember Michael’s Renegade Review from 2010. He ordered the same burger. Still fantastic. “Looking back at my original review, I may have been a little light on the rating.”

I probably should’ve gotten the beer with my meal.

Chad was a little skeptical that the NYC Shake Shack magic would transfer to NC. His skepticism was unfounded. “The double SmokeShack burger was perfectly seared and beefy, with the chopped cherry peppers adding a scintillating (but not overwhelming) bit of heat.”

Carolyn and Don felt the same as Michael. Carolyn brought up the good point of the giant leaf of lettuce. Cut that glorious green leaf into shreds, and it would be in contention for a 5.

Michael’s rating: 4.5 out of 5

Carolyn’s rating: 4.5 out of 5

Don’s rating: 4.5 out of 5

Chad’s rating: 4.75 out of 5

I would like to say that Square Burger has valiantly tried to ape the Shake Shack style. However, that would be giving them too much credit. The eponymous Square Burger was a quarter pound mess of lackluster ground beef. Chad likened his Square Burger to NuWay Burgers. “My burger fell apart as soon as I picked it up, with crumbles and bits falling away in an avalanche of underseasoned gray meat.”

I don’t think this was supposed to happen.

Michael said he had sloppy joes that held together better than this burger. The Square Sauce was a weak knock-off of ShackSauce. The people in the kitchen of Square Burger took zero care in putting this together. Don’s response when asked what he thought of his Square Burger, “Nope.”

The only thing this place has going for it is that it is in Moore Square. If you find yourself hanging out there and want something to eat, get a hot dog. Michael, Chad, and Don each gave it a 2 out of 5. Carolyn was spared from reviewing this burger.

Shake Shack: 4.56 for an overall rank of 12 out of 91

Square Burger: 2.00 for an overall rank of 89 out of 91

Review #89 – Local 22 (Durham, NC)

Michael: Damn!* 4.75

Carolyn: Daaayyuum!* 4.75

Don: Daaaaaaaammmnn!* 4.75

Chad: Lamb? Damn!** 4.75

Overall rating: 4.75 out of 5

Overall rank: 7 out of 89

*The overall consensus was that the build kept the burger from being a 5. The large leaf lettuce and the pickles speared to the top of the bun were dealbreakers.

** Holy crap, the lamb burger was good. The only thing that kept it from a rock solid 5 on the Straight Beef scale was a bun not quite capable of holding up to the wonderful juiciness of the burger.

Review #88 – Burger Boy (Wilson, NC)

Over the Memorial Day weekend, my family and I went to Wilson to see the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. What do you do when you are in a city for the first time and find yourself hungry? You search Foursquare for the closest burger joint. I lucked upon a little place known as Burger Boy. It turns out 2019 is the 50th anniversary of Marion Boykin serving burgers and dogs to the people of Wilson. For the history of Burger Boy check out The Wilson Times. I’m here to talk about the burger.

Everything about Burger Boy screams classic — even the drink sizes. A small drink is 12 oz, medium is 20 oz, and large is 32 oz. I ordered the bacon double cheeseburger combo which included a large drink and fries. It arrived wrapped in paper on a foam plate with my fries. There were two (I’m guessing) 4-oz square patties with American cheese in between. Then came crisp bacon, tomato, then some of the whitest iceberg lettuce you have ever seen. Mayo was adequately slathered on the top bun. Bonus points for no toppings under the patties.

I like the fact that a place like Burger Boy exists. If you want a decent lunch, not spend a lot of money, and support a local business, this is the place to go in Wilson. I wanted it to be more, though. The patties were nice and salty but mostly dry. It could have used another slice of cheese to hold the bacon in place. The tomato was juicy, but that lettuce was pathetic. The only way to salvage that business would have been to shred it.
I really wanted my burger to be better. I was expecting Johnson’s. Unfortunately, I got a slightly better version of a Wendy’s double. It rates a 3.25.

Overall ranking: 62 of 88