Review #48 – Village Draft House (Raleigh): The Straight Beef and NC Beer Guys Join Forces

Podcast Super Combo

Man, podcast #9—featuring our buds Glenn and Dave, the NC Beer Guys—is a good one, frothing with craft beer wisdom aplenty. Download it from iTunes or directly from our Libsyn feed.

As a special holiday bonus, here’s some stuff that doesn’t appear the podcast (including our verdict on the Village Draft House). It’s just like the podcast, except the content is completely different, and it’s less about the listening and more about the…you know…looking.

The Beers

Glenn and Dave introduced us to Deep River Brewing’s 40-42 Stout, a rich, creamy stout with hints of chocolate and a bit of residual sweetness. A huge hit with everyone at the table.

For Chad’s Maxmillian burger (with bleu cheese and bacon), Glenn and Dave recommended an IPA to cut the richness. The Maxmillian also paired very nicely with Highland Gaelic Ale.

Devil’s Tramping Ground Tripel from Aviator Brewing in Fuquay-Varina drew mixed reviews. Glenn gave it high marks, while Chad—not a fan of the bubblegum and clove flavors found in some Belgian beers—was less enthusiastic.

The Burgers

Feeling nostalgic for 80s techno-rap, Michael, Scott, and Dave opted for the Der Kommissar Burger, which featured dark ale mustard and sauerkraut on grilled rye. Scott reported that his was well balanced, while the other two felt overwhelmed by sauerkraut. All three agreed that the massive rye slices made the burgers too bready. All in all, a good burger that would be better with more consistent construction and a better burger-to-bread ratio. Scott gave his a 4.0 on the five-point scale, while Michael and Dave both ended up in 3.5-town.

image003BW image006 image009BW image012BW image015BW


image001BW 3halfmikelow 3halfmikehigh image010BW image013BW

Glenn opted for the Chicago Burger, a classic pub-style cheeseburger with bourbon-cured bacon. He gave it 3.75.

Chad’s Maxmillian burger delivered salty hot goodness in the form of bleu cheese, Frank’s Red Hot sauce, and bourbon-cured bacon. Glenn was skeptical of the burger’s pretzel roll, but Chad appreciated the flavor and structure it brought to the burger. Chad scored the Maxmillian at 3.75.

chad5bw chad35high chad35low chad2bw chad1bw

We were very pleasantly surprised when the manager of Village Draft House, upon learning of the presence of the state-renowned NC Beer Guys, comped our meals. Good beer and no bill? Now that’s a pairing.*


Chicago Burger — photo courtesy of Village Draft House


The Verdict

On the beers: An excellent array of craft beers, with NC breweries making up a good portion of the tap list.

On the burgers: Solid renditions of pub-style burgers, both classic and inventive. With a TSB score of 3.75, the Village Draft House ranks 23 out of our 48 official reviews.

And by the way…

Podcast listeners know that Hot Pistol—the NC Beer Guys’ brew that won Best in Show at the Top of the Hops pro-am competition—was headed to Denver for an exclusive debut at the Denver Rare Beer Tasting. So how’d it go? Sounds like the chocolate raspberry habanero stout was extremely well received. And while there is nothing definite yet, the brewers at NoDa have hinted that it may return to the lineup as a seasonal offering next year.


*Faithful readers know that we have never asked for — nor will we ever ask for — anything for free. It was a very kind gesture on the part of the manager. We will always be absolutely transparent when something like this occurs.

Review #46 – Merritt’s Store and Grill

We find our humble burgiatrists wandering around Merritt’s Store & Grill, each of them eager to successfully execute the Sisyphean processes of ordering, receiving, and paying for a hamburger.


Michael: Well, hello there, stranger! Why don’t you sit a spell? What’s that? Can’t find a seat? Heck, just wait in line, order your food, and worry about the sittin’ later. Which line, you ask? Well, the orderin’ line, of course. Just make sure you don’t get in the pick-up-yer-food line. Dag-nabbit, son, it don’t matter when you pay. You look like a smart city slicker. You’ll figure it out.

Chad: Uh oh—looks like Michael has fallen into his front porch curmudgeon persona again. Happens every time we get near one of these country store-type burger joints. I swear, if there’s a rocking chair nearby, Marino turns into a bad community theater version of Our Town. We can’t even drive by a Cracker Barrel without him getting out and spewing folksy wisdom to frightened children. Good thing Don keeps the tranquilizer gun handy. He’s in one of those lines here…somewhere…I think.

Don: Oh boy—I’m confused. This carpetbagger definitely does not understand the three-line system. An old-timer was gracious enough to point this greenhorn to the line to the left, but only solved one of the problems. When I got to the front of the second line—what I think was the second line—I was told that my burger would be at least 15 minutes more. So I went to the third line to pay and kill some time, but then I—hey, my B.L.T. burger is ready! All the way back in the second line. I think. Dangit.

Scott: This place can use a sign—you know, with some instructions. While I’m wandering around, I’d might as well jot down a few sentences they might find useful…

  1. Here’s the thing: Start in the line on the left. Trust us on this one. Keep in mind that lots of people will be trying to figure out where’s they’re supposed to be. So be friendly!
  2. Then, go back to where you came in and pay at the register. Prepare to (1) repeat your order and (2) see a different variety of chips from the one near the first line. So…um…maybe you should read this step first.
  3. Write this step down—it’s tricky: Then, go back to the area where the first line was, but this time, stand in the line on the right. (But honestly, where you are in line won’t really matter; you’ll be served in the order in which your meal is ready. Just go with us on this one, ‘kay?)
  4. When your order is ready, we’ll call out your order number. (Important note: Your number is the last two digits on the receipt thing we gave you. Sorry—probably should have put that earlier in this sign.)
Excuse me, waiter? There's a fly on my burger.

Excuse me, waiter? There’s a fly on my burger.


Don: The burger was good. Not great, but good. Slightly overcooked, not really worth standing in three lines for. The tomato was the best part—big, juicy, and ripe. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.0.

don5bw don35hi don35lo don2bw don1bw

Michael: Those whipper-snappers. I remember when you could order your food and it would be cooked right then and there! Nowadays, bacon and patties are cooked ahead of time and kept in some fancy-shmancy warmer plate for assemblin’ time. I will give ‘em the tomatoes, though. The size of your fist and as red as a sunrise before a rainstorm. Hoooo-ey! All told, this here burger’s a 3.5.

image001BW 3halfmikelow 3halfmikehigh image010BW image013BW

Chad: You know what? I think I’ll join Michael in one of those rocking chairs. I’m feeling a bit cranky and curmudgeonly myself. Merritt’s makes a good B.L.T., I’ll give them that, but reports of their burgers are greatly exaggerated. Leaving aside an ordering and pickup system designed by the makers of Mouse Trap, the burger—even with Merritt’s vaunted bacon and tomato—was disappointing. It was overcooked and a little bland. The patties are prepared on a tiny, non-stick Presto-Daddy type electric griddle, so there isn’t even any crust or char to give the beef a boost. Not bad, but it definitely didn’t live up to the hype. I have to go with a 3.0.

chad5bw chad4bw chad3c chad2bw chad1bw

Scott: Send help. Stop. Lost in Merritt’s. Stop. Ate burger, then got trapped in line. Was decent, not stupendous. Stop. Good tomato, though. Giving it a 3.25. Stop.

image003BW image006BW image009 image012BW image015BW

Average rating: 3.31

Overall position: 32 out of 46

Merritt's Store & Grill on Urbanspoon

Review #44 – Brewster’s Pub (Cary, NC)

What two tastes make the greatest taste combo? No, it’s not peanut butter and chocolate—though that’s close. It’s burgers and beer, of course. That’s why The Straight Beef teamed up with our hoppy counterparts the NC Beer Guys for an outing, to see what burgio-beeric magic we might conjure up.

We wound up at Brewster’s Pub in Cary—a new sports bar at the corner of Lake Pine Drive and 64—and while the fare was just fair, the joint buzzed with burger and beer wisdom aplenty. Keep your ears out for a future Straight Beef podcast for more on that. For now, we’ll give our review of the Brewster’s burgers, then hand the mic to the beer experts…

The Straight Beef

Michael, of course, went with the nuttiest burger on the menu: the “Brewster Bomb,” with bacon, grilled onions, mushrooms, and “drizzled with Monterey jack queso.” Though the burger wasn’t spectacular, Michael could tell that the kitchen knew a little something about burger magic. The patty had a nice char on the outside, without the too-often-predictable overcooked middle, and while the unorthodox use of what’s essentially a cheese sauce might have worked against it, the combination of toppings came together nicely. Michael’s review? Solid overall. A 3.5 out of 5.0.

image001BW 3halfmikelow 3halfmikehigh image010BW image013BW

Scott went with the straightforward and aptly named “Hamburger,” with traditional veggies and condiments (if you subscribe to the school of thought that considers mayo traditional). Liberally throwing around words like backyard and serviceable and respectable, Scott landed close to Michael’s view: Brewster’s serves up a decent open-grill burger that isn’t quite stand-out, but offers hints of burger magic to come. Scott review? A 3.25 out of 5.0.

image003BW image006BW image009 image012BW image015BW

The beer selection, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. For a discussion of that, we’ll turn things over to the beer experts.

NC Beer Guys

Beer expectations run pretty high when we enter a place that has named itself both “brewsters” and “pub.” The beer-pairing selections we had for our burgers at Brewster’s Pub left those expectations dashed. It’s especially disappointing for guys that work promoting North Carolina craft beer to see so few NC-produced options on the menu! With all the local breweries located within a few miles of the pub that would love to have their tasty craft beer on tap?

Anyway, they did have four good NC-produced beers in the Carolina Blonde, Caroline Strawberry Blonde, the Cottonwood Endo IPA from Foothills, and the Sweet Josie out of Lonerider. Good, if limited, options, but how do they do paired with burgers.

Dave chose the “Brewster Bomb,” but with all those toppings, what beer do you pair it with that won’t be overwhelmed by the burger? Dave’s first choice was Sweet Josie. You got the beef, bacon, onions, and mushrooms to contend with, and a brown ale is a wonderful complement. You have roasted malt flavors of caramel and chocolate, which match up great with all those toppings. A burger like this would kick a wheat or fruit beer to the side. Even with Glenn selecting a burger with cheddar cheese, Sweet Josie handled it with ease. These are big burgers, so it took two beers to finish them off. Do you want the same, or is there something else on the menu that can handle the challenge?

Cottonwood Endo IPA to the rescue! India pale ales are really good at putting a bite on flavor—and also cleaning up on the end. This particular IPA has a lot of citrus flavor and a nice hop bitterness. It easily handled and paired well with all the flavors it was up against.

What NC craft beer do you like to pair with your summer burgers?

Review #41 – Geer Street Garden (Durham, NC)

Geer Street Garden (Durham)

Durham’s popular Geer Street Garden—spitting distance from Duke Tower—offers one burger, infinite ways. The third of its three listed toppings—bacon, cheese, and “What-Have-You”—summoned the inner Seuss in each of us…


The What-Have-You
©Paul Friedrich

Chad’s Review

The What-Have-You

Is a mystery ingredient

Any topping from the menu

Exotic or expedient


To keep my burger

From going commando

I asked the server

For bacon and pimento


Good bun, excellent patty

Pimento cheese a little bland

But the bacon made me happy

Truly, it was grand



I give it a four

chad5 chad4color chad3 chad2bw chad1

Don’s Review

We had a quest,

A burger to find,

To fill our stomachs

And make happy our minds


Geer Street Garden our target,

And studying the menu

Found a short burger listing,

Could this be a snafu?


There in the print options

To top off the ground moo

Were listed not many

One option: “What-Have-You”


Oh! The confusion it caused

To be given such choices

As many as you could think

As many as there are voices


The What-Have-You I imaged

Was simple to please

Bacon, fried egg,

Grilled onions, and cheese


I took the first bite

And was greeted by pleasure

The egg yolk had broken

With simple biting pressure


The burger was good,

With a slight over-cook

But that did not keep it

From 4.25 in my book

don5bw don4 don3bw don2bw don1bw

Michael’s Review

With the What-Have-You in plain view

And so much to choose from

My mind was racing

With quite a conundrum


Do I go classic

Or try something daring?

I had to choose soon

The server was staring


I scanned the menu,

And something caught my eye

I thought, “Do I dare

Or will they think me high?”


With conviction in my mind

And resolve in my voice,

“Mashed potatoes and bacon

That will be my choice”


Tempted by the What-Have-You

I didn’t know what was in store

It turned out quite tasty

I give it a four

image001BW image004 image007BW image010BW image013BW

Scott’s Review

Time for a burger!

Today is your day

You’re off to Geer Street Garden

You’re off and away!

Your stomach is growlin’

You’re ready to feed

One burg on the menu?

Just follow its lead!


And now to choose condiments

There sure are a lot

Gruyere, “srirachanaise,”

And peppers so hot


But what’s this you see?

A topping that’s new?

It could be just anything!

Its name? The “What-Have-You”


You say you’ll go simple

Garlic aioli and bleu

The combo so right

It makes you say “ooh”


“The score will be high!”

Says this burger reporter

For Geer Street’s What-Have-You

It’s a four and a quarter!

image003BW image006 image009BW image012BW image015BW

Geer Street Garden on Urbanspoon

Review #39 – Bad Daddy Burger Bar (Raleigh, NC)

Review compiled from email exchange following burgers at BDBB’s:

Scott: What did you guys think of Bad Daddy’s last night? The beef-based Cantina Burger was decent. I’ll go as far as “acceptable.”


The pinnacle of average.

Michael: I think if they were striving for mediocrity with the Frenchie Burger, they nailed it.

Chad: The Classic Southern burger was…okay. Too much Classic Southern and not enough burger. But not offensive.


Scott: My score is somewhere in Three-town. Maybe a 3.25. The tater tots were good. What’s up with Don?

Michael: I’m with you, Scott. I think a perfectly average burger deserves a 3.25. Not sure about Don. Too much Bad Daddy’s Sauce?

Chad: It’s always a tough call whether to go with the mathematically correct 2.5 as the midpoint between 1 and 5 or the bell curve 3 for a burger that is average. I’m hovering on 3. The tots were pretty darn good.

This picture is not out of focus. The burger was so bad it was blurry.

This picture is not out of focus. The burger was so bad it was blurry.


Scott: Did I mention that the tots were good?

Michael: The pickle chips were tasty.

Chad: What was that thing on Don’s plate, by the way? I’m not sure if he was supposed to eat it or perform an exorcism.


Scott’s rating: 3.25/5

image003BW image006BW image009 image012BW image015BW

Michael’s rating: 3.25/5

image001BW image004BW image007 image010BW image013BW

Chad’s rating: 3/5

chad5 chad4 chad3color chad2bw chad1

Don’s rating: 1/5

don5bw don4bw don3bw don2bw don1

Bad Daddy's Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Notes from the Burger Underground

 I want fries with that!


There are two key tomes in the canon of hamburger lore, both published in 2005. It was a banner year for hamburger research. George Motz produced his highly regarded documentary and accompanying book, Hamburger America, and John T. Edge published Hamburgers & Fries: an American story.

Edge is the director of the Southern Foodways Alliance and a regular contributor to several food magazines. Hamburgers & Fries is a journey across America to discover the hamburger in all its glorious manifestations. It is also a response to the times. While part of the nation was damning fast food and its effect on society, haute restaurants were in an ever escalating war to create the most outrageous and expensive hamburgers imaginable.

But hamburgers are neither industrial death machine nor conspicuous extravagance. They are a uniquely American creation, inexpensive and egalitarian, and, for the last 100 years, a reflection of the times and places that shape them. As the Charles Kuralt quote that opens the book says, “You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars.”

Edge is ecumenical, with a broad definition that takes in nearly every regional expression of a hamburger. Along with the usual White Castles and pimento burgers, we discover the onion burgers of Oklahoma and the slug burgers (soy) and dough burgers (flour) of Mississippi, Depression-era efforts to extend expensive beef with cheaper ingredients. Edge delves the mysteries of the “loose meat” sandwiches in Iowa and Kansas and the steamed burgers of Connecticut. I will admit that “loose meat” is disturbing to contemplate, much less type. He explores the bean burgers of San Antonio, replete with Fritos and Cheez Whiz; Minnesota’s Jucy Lucy, two patties with molten cheese sealed in the middle; and Miami’s Cuban frita, a spiced patty topped with crispy shoestring fries. It is a voyage reminiscent of Calvin Trillan’s Tummy Trilogy or Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour, less a travelogue than a reflection on food and place.

There are two areas where the book falls down. While Edge explores some of the standard origin stories of Hamburg steak and trots out a solid half-dozen claimants to first placing it on a bun, he doesn’t come to any conclusions. He just says, “Screw it, let’s go have a burger,” and leaves it at that. It’s unsatisfying.

His greater sin is the short shrift he gives to French fries. Despite the title, Hamburgers & Fries, fries barely make an appearance. Again, this is a controversial topic in burgiatry. How much weight should be given to the fries when assessing the quality of a hamburger joint? But if you are going to call your book Hamburgers & Fries, you’d better damn well write about fries.

Hamburgers & Fries is a fun ride, and John T. Edge is a strong writer, though a little florid now and again. With the book on the bargain tables for $4 or $5, Hamburgers & Fries should be on the shelves of every burger enthusiast, even if it doesn’t properly acknowledge the importance of the fry.

Review #35 – Cameron Bar and Grill (Raleigh, NC)

(This review was originally posted at WRAL Out and About.)

For this review, The Straight Beef was joined by the legendary Paul Friedrich, artist and author of the Eisner Award-nominated graphic novel “Onion Head Monster.” Paul is also the creator of the award-winning “Cup of Awesome” comic strip and animation for the Carolina Hurricanes. Visit Paul at,, and

Paul’s Review

I’m a believer in Applebee’s. I like how they’ve spent NASA amounts of money to develop the perfectly average burger. A touch more flavor would make it above average, a pinch less salt would take it below. But when you order it, you know you’re going to get a hamburger. The Memphis burger at Cameron Bar and Grill (“bbq sauce, cheddar, bacon”) aims to be an Applebee’s burger.

The Memphis, hearty in size, looks good when served. Had I been a fireman that was suddenly called away for an emergency before eating it, my memories would have been good ones. Two strips of bacon criss-crossed the patty like an X marking the spot of a treasure. But there was no treasure tonight. The barbeque sauce, which could have been any of at least 9,000 barbeque sauces known to man, chose to be that of Burger King’s Western Burger. A sauce for people who think ketchup is too spicy.

The bun held the burger in place and allowed proper plate-to-mouth movement, but was too stiff to absorb the burger’s juices. The patty itself was gritty in texture, with little flavor. It wasn’t until halfway through the meal that I recalled the “cheddar” part of the burger’s description. Placed on the hamburger too early during grilling, the cheese had all but disappeared. Oh Cheddar cheese, I barely got to know you!

By the end, I knew that if someone asked me the next day what I had for dinner the night before, I would have to pause before remembering that I had eaten a hamburger.

Paul’s rating: 2.5 out of 5.


Michael’s Review

This is what I imagine our waiter was saying to himself before he brought my burger out:

You have your work cut out for you, Kevin.

C’mon, Kevin. Get ready. That world-renowned burgiatrist out there is waiting for his Baltimore burger. It’s time to be the best waiter you can.

I can’t procrastinate any longer—he polished off those wings. Too bad he didn’t get the hot wings to dull his taste buds. Our burgers’ patties are bland and dry, and the crumbly kaiser roll will fall apart before he is halfway done. The Baltimore’s crab dip and goat cheese will hide that, though, right? Sure it will. Good thing the volume of the toppings is greater than that of the patty itself. You know—just to be sure.

Be the best waiter you can, Kevin. The best waiter you can.

Michael’s rating: 2.5 out of 5.


Scott’s review

The following lines are excerpted from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to John Harvie Shadwell, Jan. 14, 1760.

I mean, c’mon people.

I have been to dine at Cameron Pub in the Colonie of North Carolina about a Fortnight ago, and was desirous I should try the Sandwich “Baltimore meat patty betwixt two breads.” For common right dictates that all comestibles with “creamy crab & goat cheese dip” are by their nature pleasing and instructive. Alas, in the case of the Baltimore Sandwich, common right was taking a Snooze. The dip was fair, but the patty had the disposition of George III after a few too many whistle bellies—and not in a good way. I mean, c’mon people.


Scott’s rating: 2.25 out of 5.


Cameron Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

A Quick Tour Of The Straight Beef’s 20 Reviews

A Quick Tour Of The Straight Beef’s 20—Count ‘Em, 20—Reviews

We’ve recently posted our 20th official Straight Beef review. In honor of this round but otherwise arbitrary number, we present collection of excerpts from all of them, in ascending order of our patented 1-5 ratings, from most the most meh burger to the most transcendent. It’s kind of like one of those sitcom episodes from the 70s, when they’d just piece together bits of past shows and try to pawn it off as something new—except with far less Squiggy.

Asterisk denotes a tie.

20. RALEIGH TIMES (Raleigh) Score: 2.58

“The bun looked good, but was utterly dry and flavorless. The tomato was red but mushy, and also flavorless. The patty was cooked through and the char on the outside had the caustic flavor of burnt gristle, rather than the pleasant undertone of salty sizzled beef fat. For what little it’s worth, the lettuce was okay…There was absolutely no magic, no harmony, no burger bliss.” (John)

18*. TYLER’S TAPROOM (Apex) Score: 2.67

“Dear Tyler’s Taproom: This is hard to write. I like you a lot, and I don’t want to hurt you. It’s just that at this point in our relationship I think we should break it off be completely honest with each other…Tyler’s, I think you’re super. You have a great personality, and I really enjoy spending time with you…Right now in my life, though, Tyler’s, what I really need is a good burger, and I just don’t think you can give that to me.” (Scott)

18*. SPIRITS PUB AND GRUB (Cary) Score: 2.67

“While in the moment, sharing a meal with my Straight Beef brethren, I thought the burger a three out of five. After serious meditation, however, I imagined myself trekking to a monastery in the Himalayas for quiet reflection, in an effort to erase the Surfer Burger experience from my memory.” (Michael)

17. ABBEY ROAD (Cary) Score: 2.83

“With a Little Help from My Friends, I was encouraged to give Abbey Road another try. I’d been there before, but had no plans to ever Get Back. The burger had not lived up to the hype, and I was content to just Let It Be. Nevertheless, I walked into Abbey Road recently for the second time, filled with hope and repeatedly sending out a telepathic message: Please Please Me.” [Later, after the burger:] “Not a Second Time! I Should Have Known Better.” (John)

16. TRIBECA TAVERN (Cary) Score: 3.00

“The [ingredients of] the Land and Sea burger, with Angus beef, lump crab, fried mashed potatoes, roasted garlic, and rosemary hollandaise…combined to create and thrillingly different burger that was, in a word, bland. The thrill was gone, baby. What remained was to finish this thing in a state of mild disappointment.” (John)

15. MACGREGOR DRAFT HOUSE (Cary) Score: 3.08

“Imagine Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher. Go ahead. That’s it. The dullness, the drabness, the lethargy. That’s the California burger at MacGregor Draft House…If you want a place to watch the game while you are eating, I’ll recommend the MacGregor Draft House. As for the burger, well…Bueller? Bueller?” (Michael)

14. MY WAY (Holly Springs) Score: 3.33

“Honestly, I’m finding it hard these days wax poetic about the latest slightly-better-than-average burger. There are so damn many of them!” (John)


13. CAROLINA BREWERY (Chapel Hill) Score: 3.42

“I’ve always thought there should be a word for the concoction created by the simple combination of ketchup and mustard. Ketchard? Mustup? Yellow-red burgonaise? There should also be a word, I think, for a burger that’s just plain good—not unpleasant in any way, not so outstanding that you’re ready to run down West Franklin Street singing a burger-themed paean.” (Scott)

11*. CITY BEVERAGE (Durham) Score: 3.50

“I’ve have had my share of burgers that have had odd toppings, but those ingredients had purpose. The City Beverage Fuego Diablo burger, on the other hand, seemed like they took a standard burger and threw ingredients onto it until it sounded Mexican enough.” (Michael)

11*. THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY (Raleigh, elsewhere) Score: 3.50

“A decent burger. A respectable burger. I liked it. Phenomenal cheesecake, though.” (Scott)

10. CRABTREE TAVERN (Raleigh) Score: 3.92

“Imagine coming home from work. The house is relatively quiet, dinner is on the stove, and nothing to attend to but a spot in a comfy recliner. That’s what the Classic Tavern burger is. Nice build, crisp lettuce, juicy tomato, flavorful patty, perfectly melted cheese. It is simply an easy burger to enjoy.” (Michael)

9. PLAYERS RETREAT (Raleigh) Score: 4.08

“Remember your first kiss? How your body flushed, your eyelids fluttered, and your knees wobbled? The PR’s Bernie Burger wasn’t quite that, but there was a definite weakness in my right knee.” (John)


“The 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…There was surprisingly significant burger pleasure here, bordering on bliss.” (John)

7. THE SALEM STREET PUB (Apex) Score: 4.33

“Cooked perfectly to a medium temperature, this was simply a very good burger, one that ‘came together,’ as we burgiatrists say, with the flavors merging to create that endorphin-releasing burger magic we all seek. It won’t exactly make you weak in the knees, but it will make you feel warm and happy, sitting in a warm and happy place with good friends.” (John)

6. BONEFISH (Cary, elsewhere) Score: 4.42

“Heed these words, children, and let them be for you a seal upon your heart: From the moment I bit into the Bonefish burger, with its soft brioche bun, Thousand Island-esque house sauce, crisp lettuce, juicy tomato, and succulent, quality cheddar cheese, I knew that I had bitten upon something special.” (Scott)

5. JOHNSON’S (Siler City) Score: 4.50

“Do yourself a favor, my friends. Go to Johnson’s soon. Get there early. Get that classic, humble, beautiful, delicious, American, quintessential cheeseburger and wash it down with a Pepsi. Savor the melted Velveeta. Then drive back to the Triangle among the pastures and fields along Highway 64. Get yourself one of these 4.5s and live the American dream. I implore you.” (John)

4. DRAFT (Raleigh) Score: 4.58

A haiku: The Blazin’ Asian / Draft approaches perfection / Rating four point five (Michael)

2*. BUNS (Chapel Hill) Score: 4.67

“I suspected that the burger would be good, just not this good. Every bite of the exquisite Buns burger was a Dionysian commingling of flavors and juices that rang bells of delight through the hallowed annals of burgiatry, elevating me to a level of burgiatric pleasure seldom imagined. It was, simply, a celebration of life.” (Scott)


2*. BREWMASTERS BAR AND GRILL (Raleigh) Score: 4.67

“This burger—a shockingly delicious ménage of bleu cheese crumbles and cherry ‘beermalade’ on a truly fine patty (ringing with notes of rosemary and Worchester)—[drew me] to the corner of Martin and Dawson Streets yet again, mouth open, like a baby chick squeaking for more.” (Scott)

1. MOJOE’S (Raleigh) Score: 4.83

“Wow. Yum. Man, that’s a good burger. Wow. Is this burger amazing, or is it just me? Yum num num. [Sigh.] Whew. Man, there’s just not a lot wrong with this burger. Yum num num. Yum num num num num. This has got to be a five. I mean, if this isn’t a five, what is? Yum.” (Scott)


Review #19: My Way Tavern (Holly Springs, NC)

Michael’s Review

Made “My Way,” with provolone, grilled onions, banana peppers, pepperoni (Look At Me!)

As I was trying to write my review, my mind kept going back to My Way as sung by Frank Sinatra. So, I went with it.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

"We might have been meant for each other. To be or not to be. Let our hearts discover." Alas, it was not to be.

Michael’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

John’s Review

Red Wine sauce & sauteed portabella mushrooms (Snooty Beauty)

At My Way, I broke from a long stretch of Classic Rocks burgers to try a Snooty Beauty. What can I say? It was just okay. Honestly, I’m finding it hard these days wax poetic about the latest slightly-better-than-average burger. There are so damn many of them! Good enough, but nothing special.

What the hell is that on my screen? I’m always cleaning this thing and it’s never clean! Then you try to scrape off a little speck with a fingernail and you leave a big fingerprint on there. Geez! And my keyboard is a dust trap, look at that.

Oh, right. My Way. Sorry. Okay, so this thing had red wine sauce and portabella mushrooms. Came on another &#!@$%*@#&#& Kaiser roll, but as least it was on the more moist and less flaky end of the Kaiser spectrum. It tasted okay, but no burger magic. No endorphins. I just wish.

Sweet! Jaws is coming on! Welp, I know what I’ll be doing for the next couple of hours. What a flick! Just kind of takes you away, you know? Kids are napping, dear wife’s on the Triangle Mommies chattin’ away, and we’ve got beer and chili cheese Fritos! This is the first one, of course. All of the sequels should be burned, deleted, erased, eradicated. But the first one! Shhh. Sssshhhhh. SHARK! Can’t beat the characters, the dialogue, the menacing and surprising plot iterations of calm, chaos, consternation, camaraderie. The wonderful crescendo to calamity! Then, of course, ultimate victory, if at a price, and the denouement to our two heroes kicking ashore in the distance on a couple of yellow buoys tied to a deck board. So cool how they step ashore as the very last credit rolls. Quint! “Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies…” “Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women!” “Not a bad record for this here vicinity!” The inimitable Robert Shaw, and the ONLY man who could’ve played that part. Jaws is high art, and that’s final.

That's no candy-gram. You're that land shark, aren't you?

Huh? Burger? Sorry. Another 3.25

Scott’s Review

Made “My Way,” with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, bacon (Classic Rocks)


Scott’s Rating: 3.25/5

My Way Tavern on Urbanspoon

1 2 3