Review #38 – Only Burger (Durham, NC)

(This review is also posted at WRAL Out and About.)


Everyone Right About Only Burger, Apparently

In a turn of events that shocked no one, world-renowned burgiatrists The Straight Beef finally visited Durham’s Only Burger—which had been only recommended to them about 512 times, for the love of all things holy—and “freakin’ loved it.”

“It’s about time those guys went there,” said Sheila Montalbán, Duke University environmental studies student and self-proclaimed “Straight Beef freak.” “Only Burger is only like the best burger in the world, basically. Everyone says so. I don’t even know what took them so long.” Added Montalbán, “Hello? Duh?”

The Straight Beef, which has been reviewing Triangle-area hamburgers since 2009, admits that the group had been talking about reviewing the Duke University favorite for a “ridiculous length of time,” and that there is no excuse for making Only Burger its 38th official review instead of, let’s say, its 4th, even though everyone and their uncle has been insisting that they just shut up and go already.

All four members of The Straight Beef conceded that yes, fine, apparently everyone had been right.

Can't talk. Eating.

Can’t talk. Eating.

“Once I had locked my eating-claw on the burger, I could not put it down until it was gone,” said TSB’s spiritual guide “Reverend” Don Corey, who ensured that his double with bacon, cheese, and egg was not long for this world. “The worst part of the night was when I finished the burger and didn’t have room for another.”

TSB’s burger renegade Chad “The Griddler” Ward concurred. “I was knocked out by the beefy richness, the salty crust, the juiciness of the burger,” said Ward, who ordered a double cheddar burger with bacon only, opting to “get a feel for the basic burger before gussying it up with toppings.” Ward averred that anyone who does not love Only Burger “clearly has been taken over by pod people who not only lack taste buds but hate freedom and America.”

Ward added that although The Straight Beef does not rate side dishes and tries not to be influenced by them in their burger evaluations, the sides at Only Burger were simply insane. “If we rated side dishes along with the hamburger,” Ward said, “Only Burger would be a six out of five on my scale.”

“We went three years without knowing the joy that is Only Burger’s exquisitely flavored patty,” said Scott Blumenthal, renowned British burgiatrist and TSB co-founder, who downed two singles with classic condiments, no questions asked. “We’re never going to get those years back. We’re just not. Those years are gone.”

When asked for his initial comment, leading holistic burgiatrist and TSB co-founder Michael Marino, who downed the same burger combo as Corey, plus mayo, managed only to scribble on a sheet of paper that he could “not talk, what for all the drooling.”

Michael’s rating: 4.75/5

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Don’s rating: 4.75/5

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Chad’s rating: 5/5

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Scott’s rating: 5/5

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Only Burger on Urbanspoon

Review #36 – Tír na nÓg (Raleigh, NC)

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

Tír na nÓg: Quality Moo Meat

This month, we had the pleasure of dining with industrial design guru Donald Corey, Associate Professor of Industrial Design at Appalachian State University by day, creator of brilliant gadgets by night. Don’s creations have been showcased at international design events such as Salone Satelite in Milan, ICFF in New York, and CODE in Copenhagen. He also runs the design firm The Other Edge, Inc. in Raleigh with his wife Vanese Clough.

Don’s Review

I arrived early to Tír na nÓg, so I had a chance to try to relax before meeting my fellow critics. However, the extra time only caused me to stumble out of the box with a lighthearted but ill-advised question to the other two: “Should I order the falafel burger?” Their facial expressions and flailing arms conveyed the seriousness of the situation. I steadied myself for the task at hand.

A serious time calls for serious burger. So I ordered the Whiskey Burger, a serious combination of chili and fried egg that was seriously good and merged well with the perfectly cooked patty. It was all topped by a whiskey aioli sauce, which was nice but muted by the determined sweet-and-salty combination of the other ingredients. The top bun was pleasantly toasted, but three quarters of the way through, the bottom bun crumbled under the pressure.

I thought my rating would be higher until the very, very last bite, when I realized I was too pensive to go higher than a 4. But overall, I enjoyed the Whisky Burger—seriously.

Don’s rating: 4 out of 5.


Michael’s Review

According to Wikipedia, Tír na nÓg is an earthly paradise inhabited by supernatural beings, “a place where…music, strength, life, and all pleasurable pursuits came together in a single place.” As the Whiskey Burger was placed before me at Tír na nÓg in downtown Raleigh, I imagined that this delicacy undoubtedly exists at the restaurant’s mythical counterpart. After all, how often is one regaled with breakfast (fried egg), lunch (chili), and dinner (beef patty) on a single burger?

The breakfast part was great; fried egg is a favorite burger topping of mine, and Tír na nÓg did it right. Lunch was tasty, too. The chili was no hot dog chili, but real chili with beans. The dinner part was also strong—a juicy, flavorful patty. What kept the Whiskey Burger from achieving mythical status, however was the bun, which was just too large. Yes, a case could be made that a lot of bread is necessary to contain three meals, but there was so much of it that it made eating the burger a challenge, and it detracted from the flavor of the patty.

For that reason alone, an adventurer presenting this burger to the denizens of Tír na nÓg might be sent back to the mainland. I can Ónly give it a 4 out of 5.


Scott’s Review

In search of a burger in Raleigh, but which one would make me feel jolly? I asked Donal Logue, he said, “Tir na nOg!” while munching an onion bialy.

I ordered the one they called Blount Street. Onion rings on the beef made it offbeat. The bun was too big, though much was to dig, espec’ly the quality moo meat.

Scott’s Rating: 4.25 out of 5.


Tir Na Nog Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

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

Review #33 – Chow (Raleigh, NC)

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

We had the distinct pleasure of being joined by guest reviewer Chad Ward, author of An Edge in the Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Knives (William Morrow Cookbooks) and the upcoming Meat, Salt & Time: The Art and Science of Making Authentic Sausages, Salamis and Hams at Home. As you’ll see, Chad’s a burgiatrist from the wrong side of the tracks…

Chad’s Review

I don’t have a fancy burgiatry degree like my esteemed burger brethren. I earned my grill marks the hard way—in the unlicensed burger pits of Hong Kong and Malaysia, in sweaty dens of iniquity where burgermeisters from around the world test their mettle against up-and-coming reviewers in a nightly free-for-all cage match that leaves only one man—and one burger—standing.

The burger at Chow would not have made it past round one.

And in this corner…

At first, the Classic burger looked like a contender. The lettuce and tomato were refreshingly fresh, and the bacon was crisp, but the burger faltered early. The patty was bland and flavorless, with none of the rich mineral meatiness of top-notch beef treated with care. Compounding the problem was the bun—stale and dry, past its prime. I’d ordered the Classic medium rare. I like my burger pink in the middle. However, what I got was uncomfortably rare, barely warm in the center. While I suffered no ill effects, this was the final blow. The risk-to-reward wasn’t worth it.

This burger deserves no more than a 2.5, downgraded to a 2.25 for the stale bun. Knockout in round one.

Chad’s rating: 2.25 out of 5.


Michael’s Review

As the burgiatrist among us who’s known to order the “weird” burgers, it was obvious what I’d order at Chow: Bacon? Check. Fried egg? Check. Duke’s mayo? Check. The Flatline Burger. Check.

I give Chow a lot of credit for what they tried to do here. The fried egg was over-medium, which works well as a burger topping; everything holds together until you bite into the yolk, at which point it’s eggy goodness all over. The bacon (traditional, none of this applewood smoked nonsense) was cooked to order and never saw a heat lamp.

Alas, the Flatline’s patty and bun—what really counts—fell flat. The patty should have been cooked a few minutes more. The flavor was average at best. The bun was too bready and fell apart too quickly. A solid potato bun would have held up.

So close.

In the end, the Flatline was almost a good burger. The patty was almost cooked to order. The bun almost held together. The toppings almost compensated for the burger’s failings. I almost gave this burger a 3.

Michael’s rating: 2.75 out of 5.


Scott’s Review

I was sure, when the Chow BBQ Burger was placed before me, that it held a one-way ticket to Four-berg. Maybe even Four-and-a-half-bury. It just looked good, with its golden bun, rough-edged patty, and crisp whole-leaf lettuce gleaming as they pulled into the station.

After one bite, however, I knew the burger could go no farther than Three-and-a-half-shire—maybe even Three-ford. The bun was tired and listless, having traveled for at least two days from what might have been the suburbs of Five-kirk.

We’re on the last train to Twos-ville.

After three bites, the patty proved underdone and crumbly, perhaps having leapt off the grill at the wrong stop. It was clear, sadly, that this choo-choo was chugging straight to Two-town.

Scott’s review: 2.25 out of 5.


Chow on Urbanspoon

Review #32: BurgerFi (Cary, NC)

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

This month, we were joined by guest reviewer and blogger-in-arms Becca Gomez Farrell. That’s right—“The Gourmez” herself. Once we accepted that there was a girl at the table (a first for us), a fine time was had by all.

Becca’s Review

I must declare that I’m typically more about the toppings than the patty. I often opt for a single or smaller-sized one when available. For me, it’s but one aspect of the burger build. In this case, however, a single is simply not enough for appreciating the glory that is the Burgerfi cheeseburger. Do yourself a favor and order a double instead. It’s a hand-shaped patty with the irregular edges to prove it, and you need two for that perfect meat-to-topping blend. Sticking with the free topping options, I ordered mayo, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and jalapenos. The bun was squishy in all the right ways yet avoided becoming a casualty of meat or tomato juices.

The American cheese melted into and over the patty’s crevices—perfection.

If forced to find faults, I would focus on the fiery bite of jalapeno—roasted would be a better option—and the fairly large proportion of white iceberg to green. Other than a need for more crunch to balance the textures, this was a fabulous burger. Additionally, the parmesan herb fries were fully coated and far exceeded my tater expectations.

Becca’s review: 4.25 out of 5.


Michael’s Review

Is it possible for a restaurant to recreate the backyard burger experience? After eating at BurgerFi, I say absolutely.

I ordered the Ultimate Cheeseburger, which features brisket instead of chuck. (Chuck, more common in burgers because it’s a fattier cut, comes from the chest of the steer; brisket comes from the shoulder.) Swiss and blue cheeses nicely complemented the flavorful cut. The order of the build was clever, with the pickles sealed to the underside of the top bun with Burgerfi’s special sauce. No toppings toppled off as I ate—big points right there. The downside of brisket is its tendency to be a little dry, which this burger seemed around the last bite or two. A minor quibble about an overall fine burger.

With thin, hand-made patties like BurgerFi’s, it’s easy to go from the realm of medium well into the realm of shoe leather. BurgerFi, however, did it right. With the quality soft bun, it achieved the classic backyard grill flavor that many burgiatrists consider the Holy Grail of burger joints.

Michael’s review: 4.0


Scott’s Review

I searched Merriam-Webster, but apparently there’s no word that means “the breathless anticipation one experiences prior to tasting a highly touted burger.” A few minutes with a Latin-to-English translator yielded spectocaro, loosely translated as “expectancy for a beef sandwich.” Sure—let’s go with it: spectocaro it is.

The spectocaro for BurgerFi was high. The buzz in burgiatry circles is that the Florida-native chain is something special, that there’s substance behind its all-natural, grass-fed, no-additives credo—that it also slings a tasty burger. The buzz was right. With that rare and esteemed combination of fresh, hand-made, and delicious—crafted, clearly, by lovers of all things burger—BurgerFi burgers enter the canon of quality Triangle burgiatric options.

Spectocaro high, rating high.

Scott’s review: 4.25


BurgerFi on Urbanspoon

Review #31: Char-Grill (various locations)

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

A Bit of Philosophy on Love, Burgiatry, and Char-Grill

This month, The Straight Beef bids bon voyage to TSB founding member and elite burgiatrist, John McManus. Before he heads out for the Sunshine State, we thought we’d give John the floor for a bit of philosophy on love, burgiatry, andChar-Grill.

You don’t really want to marry a supermodel. (Just set aside the fact that I did, accepting that there are exceptions to every rule.) And you certainly wouldn’t want to eat caviar and drink champagne at every meal with said super-spouse, would you? No, you wouldn’t. By the third meal, you’d be craving a burger and fries, and even if Heidi or Fabio (as the case might be) would join you for such common fare, you’d be at your wits’ end waiting while he or she primped for the outing.

No—what you really want in the long run is a reasonably and accessibly attractive mate who’s more than willing to throw on jeans and a T-shirt when your tummy rumbles to hit a good ol’ stand-by joint with you for a sure-thing 4.0 (out of 5.0) classic American cheeseburger and a few laughs.

Fives, you see, are the supermodels of burgers. They’re rare, fickle, and high maintenance. Just about the time you fall in love with one, its personality will change as to become unrecognizable, if not downright hostile. I do not regularly pursue or profess my love for the burgers at Chuck’s or Mojoe’s (both rarified TSB fives) because I know that if were to be so overt, I would be served stale Quarter Pounders faster than you can say yama-hama.

Fours, on the other hand, are the marryin’ kind. They’re not too fancy, but they look good, taste good, and can be counted on to treat you right time after time. Without effort, you can spend a little QT with them more than a couple of times a week without ever tiring of their company. In fact, over the years, you can form a deep and lasting bond that just grows stronger with every satisfying meal, eventually developing an unshakable trust. These are the burgers you want to commit to, even raise a couple of sliders with.

So if you’re looking for a long-term commitment with a burger that won’t leave you and will always treat you right, go to Char-Grill. Take your better-than-average significant other with you when you go.

The Straight Beef’s review of Char-Grill: Solid 4.0, every time.





Char-Grill on Urbanspoon

The Top 5

This post was originally posted at WRAL Out and About.

The Straight Beef is pleased to announce its Top 5 Triangle-area burgers so far (well, 6, actually—there was a tie for 5th), including excerpts from each review.

Each burger is rated on a scale of 1 to 5; an asterisk denotes a tie.

5. JOHNSON’S (Siler City) Average 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 among the pastures and fields along Highway 64. Get yourself one of these 4.5s and live the American dream. I implore you.” (John)

5. BARRY’S CAFÉ (Raleigh) Average score: 4.50*

“Barry’s continues to get it right, with very nice American cheese, very fresh veggies, the very build order required, a very nice and traditional bun, and very nice attention to proportions and assembly to bring all of the very nice flavors together….This is a very, very, VERY good burger, people. Which is why I am resisting any urge to replace the word ‘very’ with ‘Barry,’ which would have been juvenile.” (John)

4. DRAFT (Raleigh) Average score: 4.58

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

3. BUNS (Chapel Hill) Average 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. MOJOE’S (Raleigh) Average 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 great burger, what is? Yum.” (Scott)

1. CHUCK’S (Raleigh) Average score: 5.00

“Seekers on the path to enlightenment must pursue the Four Noble Truths. It can be very time-consuming. I suggest that those in search of enlightenment simply visit Chuck’s, where four other, easier, noble truths are posted on the menu: (1) half-pound 100% chuck, (2) house ground, (3) flat-top seared, (4) on a potato roll….This burger led this burgiatrist to true enlightenment.” (Michael)

Review #30: Busy Bee Cafe (Raleigh, NC)

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.

A golden edifice reaching to the heavens ultimately crushed by a kaiser roll.

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):

Michael: 3.5


Scott: 3.25


John: 3.5


Busy Bee Cafe on Urbanspoon

Review #29: Hurricane Grill and Wings (Cary, NC) – CLOSED

This review was originally published on WRAL Out and About.

The Straight Beef: Hurricane Wings and Grill, Cary

Does Raleigh’s Biggest ‘Burb Have a New Best Burger?

Scott’s Review

In burgiatry school, we’re trained to be wary of burgers purveyed at joints specializing in something else (e.g., avoid the patty melt at Sushi Thai). Sure, you’ll occasionally stumble upon a great non-burger-joint burger like the one at Bonefish Grill (TSB rating = 4.42), which would move even the stodgiest classical burgiatrist to stand up and say “yum.” But that’s rare.

Well, it happened again—this time in grand fashion.

Hurricane Grill and Wings, a chain restaurant out of Florida that specializes in wings out the wazoo, has opened one other location in the Southeastern United States—and our fair Cary, North Carolina, wins big.

I’ll mention but not dwell on how good the wings were. My goodness they were good. My goodness.

For it was the Hurricane’s burger—a humble, traditional, flat-grill beauty with a quality, flavorful patty and a bun that knows when to stay out of the way—that’s the cause for a strong southeasterly gale around TSB headquarters. Hearkening us back to the pure, undiluted burger power of Mojoe’s and Johnson’s, two TSB favorites, Hurricane Wings and Grill offers one non-burger-joint burger that made these burgiatrists stand up and say, with no hint of shame, “yum.”

Scott’s Review: 4.5 out of 5.0


John’s Review

I seeeeee yooooou.

Though I could have guessed it by the formulaic beach-life tchotchke décor (which actually suits this surf bum quite well), the fact that Hurricane Wings and Grill was a chain was revealed to me only after the burger was consumed. The knowledge that it was a chain would not have dimmed my expectations (my maxim has always been “burger bliss is where you find it”); the fact that it was a non-burger-centric chain might have.

But that would have been unfair. Burgers are not the marquee item on Hurricane’s menu, but they should be—or perhaps at least share twin billing with the blockbuster wings.

Hurricane offers a very flavorful chuck patty cooked (in my case) a light medium, on a soft bun, with gooey melted American cheese. While my tomato was a little thin and crystalline, Hurricane got one major thing right with the veggies…drum roll, please…shredded iceberg lettuce! The only area where Hurricane went awry here was the order of the build, with the veggies on the bottom, the tomato longing to be in its rightful place next to the mayo. I pushed that frustration aside and opened my heart to this burger, and it filled me with warm, burger bliss.

John’s review: It’s a solid 4.5, folks.


Michael’s Review

Thirty. Two. Wing. Sauces. Thirty-two. Any of them can be added to a burger—or anything else between bread. If our oft-imagined fictional sister site actually existed, we’d discuss it there. Until then, you’ll just have to try them yourself. On to the burger. I ordered the bacon cheeseburger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles—and the Thai ginger and garlic sauce.

The juicy patty was mildly seasoned and fully covered with cheese. The order of the build, however, was perplexing. The shredded lettuce, average tomato, and pickles were beneath the patty. Mind-boggling. Also, the bacon was tasteless and limp. It tasted like it was cooked in the microwave, or sitting in a warmer for awhile. The ginger glaze, though, elevated the overall burger experience. The soft, top-notch bun held everything together.

Overall, it was a great burger, but the unorthodox build and sub-par bacon keep me from rating it higher than a 4.

Michael’s review: 4.0 out of 5.0


Final note: Hurricane’s overall score (4.33) makes its burger a close second to our top-rated Cary burger, Barry’s Café (4.50)—but just barely.

Hurricane Grill & Wings on Urbanspoon

Review #28: Tobacco Road Sports Cafe (Raleigh, NC)

Ah, heck, we couldn’t help but defer to the classic method: three burgers, three voices. Here’s the latest one…

(This review was originally posted over on WRAL: Out and About.)



Scott’s Review

“Is everything going okay? I’m nervous.” Our server was clearly uneasy as she collected our plates; she knew that we were renowned burgiatrists.

“Did you cook the burgers?” Michael asked her.

“Me? No.”

“Then you’re fine.”

Truth be told, my less-than-effusive opinion of “The Arrogant” Burger at Tobacco Road Sports Cafe in Raleigh was partly a result of my own waywardness, as I broke a cardinal rule of burgiatry: “For each burger, a mind clear of expectations.” Though burger linguists have long debated the exact meaning of the original Latin (Te osculari volui, burger), the verse is generally taken to mean that we should ignore florid descriptions (“black pepper-crusted patty with Arrogant Bastard Ale mustard”), beguiling accoutrement (“your choice of side,” including “sweet potato mash”), and seductive come-hither website burger pics.

On the one hand, I stand guilty of the abovementioned trespass. On the other hand, the burger just wasn’t that good.

Scott’s review: 2.75 out of 5.


Michael’s Review

First, let me say that offering 3-ounce servings of draught beers for $1 each —especially with a beer list as sizable as Tobacco Road’s—is brilliant. That said…

Despite having been burned by cheese-filled burgers in the past, I went with the Stuffed Burger—a patty crammed with cheese and topped with bacon, more cheese, and caramelized shallots. It is difficult to cook cheese inside a burger. If it’s not cooked enough, the burger falls apart. Too much, the cheese is cooked to tastelessness. Tobacco Road got it right. It was gooey goodness. Plus, the bacon was crispy and the shallots retained very good flavor through the caramelization. Problem was, the patty was bland—and, though saved by the cheese—a little dry. For that reason, the Stuffed Burger doesn’t quite make a four-rating in my book.

Overall, though Tobacco Road Sports Cafe was a great place, the service was excellent, and I can’t wait to sample the rest of the menu. I’ll be back.

Michael’s rating: 3.75 out of 5.


John’s Review

Dressed to the nines. Everything precisely in its place. In outline, she was stirringly well-proportioned. In fashion she was adorned in luxuriant, complementary colors and textures. The vision of her set my rods and cones into an electric hum. As she accompanied the waitress to our table, it was urgent that she join me and we begin the passionate love affair I was certain would ensue.

Maybe next time, sweetheart.

Suddenly, she was before me. I breathed her warm and satisfying air. Then, with no need or time for pointless banter, I brought her to my lips and discovered…that the Tobacco Road burger—just the basic this time—looks much better than it is. The bun (not a kaiser!—can I get an amen?) appeared house-baked and was good, but a little dry. The patty was overcooked and a bit bland. Leaf lettuce was a little soggy and had me pining for shredded iceberg. There was the promise of love and yet, though she was lovely, she lacked personality and depth. After a few dates, I will likely move on.

John’s review: 3.5 out of 5



Tobacco Road Sports Cafe on Urbanspoon

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