Review #82 – Scratch Kitchen and Taproom (Apex, NC)

The holidays are over. Did Santa deliver the goods? Are we going to re-gift that weird lion umbrella stand? Did we get what we asked for at Scratch Kitchen and Taproom in Apex? Well…

After receiving the Westminster Abbey burger, Don was left thinking, “You shouldn’t have.”

“You shouldn’t have cooked my burger, which I ordered medium, to the consistency and taste of a charcoal briquette. The only flavor the burger had was from was the char and the sour taste of the sad clump of bleu cheese lumped under the patty. The candied bacon seemed to be trying to escape this mess as it was clumped on one side.

“Really, you shouldn’t have.” 2 out of 5.

Unfortunately, Carolyn fared no better. She ordered the Jammin’ burger, hoping for a little spicy kick. Her burger was dry and overcooked as well. “The nightmarish char overwhelmed all potential redemption that the otherwise excellent accoutrements — red pepper jam, onion straws, feta cheese and spicy mayo — could have added.”

Every bite was worse than the last and yet still, I kept going, thinking that I’d get to that one good bite. The jam and the mayo were not spread evenly and there needed to be more onion straws. I think there was a dime-sized glob of the creamed feta somewhere in there. “But nobody could overwhelm spicy Korean mayo with char!” you say. “Hold my beer”, says Scratch.

“Utter tripe. I was hungry, and I didn’t finish it.” 2 out of 5.

Michael asked for the Truffle Mac and Cheese burger and received a lump of coal instead. The build was haphazard and ill-conceived. The scant amount of arugula was under the patty which wilted it to a mush. Should have been on top. The fried mac and cheese patty was tasty but would have stayed together better if left under the patty to allow it to melt a little. Keep it gooey. The candied bacon, again, was good, but it was shoved under the bun in a little pile. I had to spread it out. “I couldn’t even taste the roasted garlic truffle aioli. The delicate flavor was lost in all that char.”

“No character to the beef and forgettable flavor.” 2.25 out of 5.

Chad made it pretty clear, this probably wouldn’t be a December to remember, “The presentation was dismal.” The burgers and small cup of fries sat forlornly on a small metal tray, the bottom covered haphazardly with a sheet of parchment paper. It looked like a bad school lunch.

He ordered the Ramen Burger which comes with seared ramen noodles, a fried egg, pickled ginger, scallion slaw, and spicy Korean mayo. When seeing it on the menu, he feared it might be freak show State Fair food with buns made of fried ramen. What came was a fried puck of ramen the exact size and shape of the burger patty. It “added nothing but bulk and starch to the burger, no flavor whatsoever.”

The yolk on the fried egg had popped before the burger was delivered. “Rather than a flow of golden lava at the first bite, I got a bottom bun that had been spot-welded to the parchment paper underneath by drying yolk.” It got worse. “The sloppy, unstable build caused the patty and all toppings to squirt out the back of the bun when I attempted to pry the burger from the paper.” After that and a stack of napkins, Chad attacked his burger with knife and fork.

Scratch did prove that they could cook a burger correctly, though. Chad’s was cooked to medium and lacked the char that ruined everyone else’s. The pickled ginger was excellent. Frankly, though, it would be pretty hard to mess up pickled ginger. “I have only had one burger this bland before, a Sheetz gas station burger that I ordered out of morbid curiosity. The Scratch Ramen burger tasted like not much of anything, an undifferentiated protein with meat-like qualities.

I was sad and disappointed rather than angry, so it merits a 2. But it is the holidays…” 2.25 out of 5.

Really, you shouldn’t have.

Overall rating: 2.13 out of 5

Overall ranking: 80 out of 82

Review #75 – Acme Food & Beverage Company (Carrboro, NC)

We should know better. We really should. When an otherwise excellent restaurant offers an afterthought burger on the menu, skip it. We’ve learned that the hard way too many times.

But, like Wile E. Coyote, we were drawn to Acme. We couldn’t help ourselves. It seemed so promising.

Perusing the Acme menu

And like the coyote, we were doomed to disappointment.

Chuck Jones, the creator of the roadrunner and coyote, famously laid down the rules:

Chuck Jones’s rules for the roadrunner & coyote from his 1999 autobiography Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist.

We broke rule #3 first. We are indeed fanatics. We cannot stop. If there’s a burger around, we’ll try it, even when we know better.

Then we fell prey to rule #2, the failure of the Acme products. What looked so good, so promising, especially in light of the other wonderful items on the menu, just left us dangling over a cliff holding a small sign reading “Help!” before we plunged to our cartoon doom.

Carolyn Coyote’s reaction:

The Acme burger.  Mine was a study in chronological disappointment, which is to say that the more time passed and the more I ate, the more disappointed I became.  Meep meep, says the Road Runner.  Burp…ugh….says I.  The burger came out of the kitchen with some obvious glitches but no dealbreakers.  The criss-cross bacon was not the ideal but it can work under certain circumstances.  In hindsight, perhaps my over-hungry brain simply saw what it wanted to see.  My first bite wasn’t bad!  The meat itself tasted….mmmoookay.

After the next bite and the bite after that, it became clear that the burger build was atrocious and the bacon gummed up the works. By the end, I was viewing the greasy mess of what was a burger on my plate with disgust and not a little bit of self-loathing.  2 out of 5.

Michael Coyote’s reaction:

I have a feeling that the Acme burger is what would end up happening if the Coyote actually caught the Road Runner. Wile E. Coyote has spent his life in constant pursuit of that scrawny bird. Why? Is all that effort worth what minuscule meat is on those bones? I mean, they weigh about a pound on the high end. Even if it is not about the meal but a Captain Ahab-like pursuit of this creature, what next? Wile E. is left to wander the desert cleaning up the wreckage of his myriad of Acme contraptions remembering what once was.

Such was our experience at Acme. There was a lot of build up because the food there is outstanding. However, once I got my hands on the burger. It was a real disappointment. The stringy bacon was haphazardly placed on the over-cooked patty. The beef had decent flavor but nothing outstanding. The cheese fused the patty and the bacon together which made rebuilding a disaster.

Acme is a terrific restaurant with a less than average burger. They should do themselves a favor and just take it off the menu. 2.5 out of 5.

Chad Coyote’s Reaction:

What could possibly go wrong?

Nope. Just, nope. We did indeed run afoul of rule #2. The Acme product failed us badly. The burger was overcooked and underseasoned. The bacon was limp. The cheese was bland. All of the wonderful promise disintegrated before my eyes and I was left wondering how it could have gone so, so wrong. 2.5 out of 5.

Overall rating: 2.33

Overall rank: 72 out of 75

Review #66 – Krafty’s Burgers and Brews (Garner, NC)


FX:       Whirling newspaper that stops to reveal the headline “Krafty’s Burgers & Brews.”

SUPER:    Burgertone News Presents!

SOUND FX: Morse code telegraph sound -.- .-. .- ..-. – -.– .—-. …

ANNCR:    Dateline: Garner, North Carolina, a burg that knows a good burger!

Krafty’s Burger and Brews is a small restaurant and pub with big burger plans. Even before the official grand opening, Burgertone News! was there to bring you the exclusive.

There was a time in this great land where a man would be subject to ridicule if he ordered anything but mustard on his hamburger, and Krafty’s knows it, delivering the Old Fashioned, a hefty half pound of fresh Angus beef adorned with nothing but mustard and the cheese of your choice. This IS your father’s hamburger, and his father’s before that. This is the hamburger that fed the hardworking men and women of America and fueled the nation to greatness. Our reporter’s Old Fashioned burger was expertly cooked to a pink medium with a textbook perfect char on the exterior.

WARD:     “My Old Fashioned was truly excellent, so good that I started to speak like an old time radio announcer and now can type only in Courier font.”

ANNCR:    The Old Fashioned was marred only by a slightly dry potato roll, a complaint shared by our other correspondents.

Krafty's Old Fashioned is the bee's knees. It's the berries, I tell ya.

Krafty’s Old Fashioned is the bee’s knees. It’s the berries, I tell ya.

Eminent burgiatrist, Dr. Michael Marino eschewed the Old Fashioned and charged headlong into the future, ordering a hamburger topped with Irish bacon, Guinness barbecue sauce and three onion rings. He not only survived the ordeal but thrived on it.

MARINO:   “I know there was a potato famine, but that’s no reason to not use a moist potato bun. I needed a full Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda to wash it down. That being said, the Guiness BBQ Burger was a whiz-bang good burger.

ANNCR:    The Reverend Don Corey, a man of the cloth as well as a man of the bun, was equally generous in his praise.

COREY:    “That Slam Burger was a real ducky shincracker in my mouth, see. It almost doesn’t need the tots!

Michael’s rating 4.25

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Don’s rating 4.25

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Chad’s rating 4.25

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ANNCR:    There you have it, faithful Burgertone News! fans. You know that you’ll never get anything but The Straight Beef from our reporters. To learn more about Krafty’s Burger & Brews, tune to on your internet dial.

Overall rating 4.25 – 17 out of 66

Review #53 — Rally Point Sport Grill (Cary)

Strip Mall Surprise: A Recipe


The skeptical burgiatrist at work. An original watercolor.


  • 3 skeptical burgiatrists
  • 1 generic strip mall sports bar
  • 3 burgers
  • 2 orders of hot wings

Receive an email about yet another “best burger in the Triangle!!!” with too many exclamation points and questionable source data from Rally Point Sport Grill in Cary.

Review painfully slow website. Preheat snark to medium.

Arrive at generic strip mall sports bar. Note the Skee ball machines and clusters of patrons at the bar—and the virtually empty dining room—and lower expectations to simmer.

Order wings and beers. Note with mild surprise the tastiness of the wings while lamenting the skimpiness of the beer menu. (Remember that too much lamenting this early in the recipe can lead to some bitterness.)

Order three half-pound burgers: one Carolina burger with chili and coleslaw, one Cheddar burger, and—taking one for the team—one Mac & Cheese burger, piled high with “homemade” macaroni & cheese that looks homemade only if your home is a blue box with “Kraft” emblazoned across it. Raise snark to high.

Take a bite.

Note the well-toasted, locally baked bun. Note the near-perfect sear and proper seasoning level on the patty. Reduce snark back to medium, raise expectations slightly. Chew thoughtfully. Take another bite.

Discuss quality of the burger with tablemates. Dial snark down to low. Remark on the high quality of the burger—with or without extraneous toppings—and completely rethink the experience.

Peel away previous bias and enjoy. Voilà! Strip Mall Surprise!

Tasters’ Notes:

  mac and cheese burger
Chad: I ordered the Mac & Cheese burger. The underlying hamburger patty was excellent, and the bun was perfectly toasted. They also get bonus points for house-cut fries. The mac & cheese provided nothing more than bulk and starch and took away from the experience of the burger itself. This is a well-deserved 4.0 for the burger alone.

Carolina burger

Scott: For a slightly spicier version of the recipe, add pinball machines, 70s-style paneling, and an unremarkable-looking joint serving an unexpectedly remarkable burger. I’m going all the way to 4.0-town for the Carolina burger.

Cheddar burger

Don: Cheddar Burger- Cheddar Cheese: I went with one of the most basic burgers listed and was struck by the nice char on the burger as well. The bun was great and perfectly toasted. My biggest complaint is with the amount of cheese that was used. It was lost on the burger. I don’t know if I actually tasted it in retrospect. All in all a very solid 4.0.

Overall rating:4.0, putting Rally Point Sport Grill at 22 out of 53.

RallyPoint Sport Grill on Urbanspoon

Review #47 – Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar (Raleigh, NC)

Pop Culture A-Plenty

On the menu. On the walls. In the enormous fish tank (which was featured on Animal Planet’s Tanked). Everywhere you look at Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar in Raleigh’s trendy North Hills is a reference to pop culture images, symbols, and icons. So when it came time to sit down and write our review, we just couldn’t get ‘em out of our head.

Chad’s Review

Eating at Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar is like eating inside a pinball machine. It’s bright, it’s loud, chipper urbanites bounce off one another on the way to the bar (free ball!) and the bathroom (double bonus!), and everybody watches the big scoreboard, where their assigned cartoon fish get closer to the LCD surface while they wait—and wait and wait—to finally be seated (high score!).

But tune out the frenetic motion and noise and just groove on the burger, and you’ll be at the table all night. The Boursin Burger was a fine example of burgerdom. The patty was properly cooked with just a little char around the edges, and the garlic and herb boursin cheese added a nicely sharp counterpoint, though the grilled onions were overpowering, and I ended up removing them.

All in all, a rock solid 3.75.

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Michael’s Review

Pete Best, as you know, was the Beatles’ original drummer. There’s lots of debate about why he was sacked—maybe he was too conventional for John, too quiet even for George, or just too good-looking for Paul’s liking—but whatever it was, he just wasn’t quite right.

Of the burgers we ordered at Cowfish, the Black Truffle Cheese Burger was the Pete Best of the group. While my fellow burgiatrists found at least some greatness in their burgers, I couldn’t help but feel that despite the promise, mine wasn’t quite right. The cheese covered only about half of the burger, there wasn’t quite enough roasted garlic aioli, and the overall taste was inconsistent at best. I’m willing to give Cowfish another try, with the hopes of getting a Ringo.

Michael’s review: 3.5

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Don’s Review

Think of Elvis—but the 1975 Elvis. Very good, very entertaining, but perhaps more than you could—or wanted to—handle. That’s how I felt after eating The Arnold Hamandegger at the Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. It wasn’t the fault of the patty, which had a nice flavor and was cooked to temp. It wasn’t the fault of the egg, which was cooked perfectly so that its yolk broke on impact, showering the burger with yellowy goodness. Maybe it was the grilled onions…or the bacon…or the Black Forest ham…or the “Cowfish sauce”…or just the overall combination of all these things that brought me to the verge of the meat sweats after eating this hunka-hunka burning love.

Don’s review: 3.75

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Scott’s Review

I’m about to break a rule—kind of.

The Straight Beef does not allow non-burger variables like atmosphere, art, or service to influence its ratings. A burger is what the burger is, be it served at Versailles or Penn Station. But I gotta say: The décor at Cowfish—with its burger-themed send-ups of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Broadway, and anime—is pretty darn amusing. So much so, in fact, that I couldn’t help but question whether I was enjoying the burger, which struck me at the time as downright solid, just a teensy bit more for the beef-in-cheek visuals. It’s likely that I’ll never know.

Scott’s Review: 4.0

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Overall position, Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar: 21 out of 47 (3.75 avg)

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Review #43 – JD’s Tavern (Apex, NC)

Ok guys, I found a receipt in my pocket that shows I paid for a burger with fried egg, bacon, and American cheese at one “JD’s Tavern” in Apex. Did you guys pull a prank on me? I can’t remember the burger at all. I remember awesome buffalo shrimp, good conversation, a long wait for food, and a couple of laughs at Scott’s and Chad’s expense. That’s about it. Definitely no burger.

That makes sense—you do always get bacon and egg on your burger. Maybe you need something different in your life, like the pineapple and salsa meat sandwich I had. Wait—was it just a sandwich? Maybe it was a burger.

That certainly looks like a burger. Why can't I remember eating it?

That certainly looks like a burger. Why can’t I remember eating it?

OK—this is slightly eerie. I also have a vague memory of eating at JD’s. When the four of us get together for an outing, we usually review burgers, right? But for the life of me, I can’t remember having one there. We wouldn’t have gone on a burger outing and not had a burger, though, right? Right? Please tell me I’m not losing it.

I also recall good conversation, decent beer, excellent Buffalo shrimp, and little else. I was as stunned as the rest of you to find a hamburger on my credit card slip, so I did a little research.

Burgiatra Britannica contains references, albeit incomplete, of a phenomenon called “burgnesia.” Apparently there were experiments done in the 1940s under a secret government program designed to determine if a foodstuff, most notably hamburgers, can be made completely forgettable. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) determined that under the right circumstances, a hamburger can be rendered so pedestrian that it is erased from the subject’s memory. I think that is what is going on here.

Nicely done, Major Beef. Another mystery solved. Now it’s coming back to me a bit—something about sliders with three-day-old buns and flavorless patties. I’m not sure I remember it well enough to give a rating, but I’ll go with 2.0.

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Hey, Scott. Remember me? I still have one of your fillings.

Hey, Scott. Remember me? I still have one of your fillings.

Oh wait! Now I remember this burger. It was completely pedestrian. The goodness of the bun was countered by the fact the patty was way overcooked. I ordered the burger medium rare, and that was a solid well done. The meat was bland and dry, the fried egg was too hard, and the bacon was just…there. Rating 3.0.

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I can't walk. How can I be a pedestrian?

I can’t walk. How can I be a pedestrian?

J.D.’s Tavern has either resurrected WWII stealth burger technology or they have inadvertently stumbled upon a burger that is so uninspired that the brain completely erases its consumption from recall. It is neither good enough to merit recognition nor bad enough to warrant space in memory. Whether they realize it or not, they have perfected the invisible hamburger. If I could recall it better, I would probably give it a 2.5. The overcooked burger itself deserved a 2.25, but the excellent brioche bun pulled it up.

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Wait, I definitely remember Scott’s sliders. They deserved their own jaw muscle workout video, “Buns of Stale.” My pineapple salsa . . . sandwich . . . burger . . . whatever, was most notable for having pineapple and salsa on it. I give it a 2.75.

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JD's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Review #42 – Gorman Street Pub (Raleigh, NC)

These Are Not The Burgers You’re Looking For

The voice of the Ancient Burgiatrist Kobe-Wan came quietly into the Straight Beef’s collective conscious:

“You will go to the Gorman Street System.”

Gorman Street?

“There you will sample the burger and learn its secrets, just as I did.”


The scene opens on The Straight Beef seated at Gorman Street Pub. They have just been served their hamburgers.

Scott: I have a bad feeling about this.

Don: I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Chad: Kobe-Wan said we were to learn the secrets of these burgers, but it tastes like those secrets include a Bantha-load of spices – onion powder, garlic powder, red chile flake and cumin, lots of cumin – even on the plain burger.

Don:  When I ordered my burger, I was not expecting it to have been seasoned at the spice mines of Kessel. After all, it was the Have It Plain burger—I just added bacon and egg. But alas, the burger is seasoned to the taste of a Wookie with a lot of ‘Arghhhhhhh’ (Don roars and pounds his chest, causing several patrons to turn and stare.) It overpowered the rest of the fixings and is a bit of a letdown.

Scott, Michael, and Chad were handed the wrong plates. Each samples his burger, realizes something is wrong, trades his plate . . . and then trades again. Still, they have a hard time determining which burger is which.

Chad: I ordered the Black ’n’ Bleu burger, Cajun rubbed with bleu cheese. When you can’t tell the plain cheeseburger from the Cajun spiced burger with bleu cheese, there’s a problem. Maybe “Cajun rubbed” means they have a Louisiana native chained in back who gives it a good pat down before serving.

Scott: The possibility of receiving the correct burger order is approximately 3,720 to 1.

Michael: Never tell me the odds!

Michael glances over at Chad who is chewing grimly and then glares at his burger.

Michael: My friend doesn’t like you.

The burger doesn’t respond.

Michael: I don’t like you either.

Scott: As senior Burgiatric knights we learned all learned the Way of the Grill, you “Do or do not. There is no try.” Gorman Street Pub doesn’t even try.

The Straight Beef departs Gorman Street Pub. As they exit, an eager young couple is entering the restaurant. Michael waves his hand in a complicated gesture in front of the man’s face.

Michael: These are not the burgers you are looking for.

Man: These aren’t the burgers we’re looking for.

Michael: You should go on about your business . . . perhaps at Only Burger, Chuck’s or one of The Straight Beef’s Top Ten.

The man glances at his wife.

Man: We can go on about our business at one of the Straight Beef’s Top Ten.

The man’s wife stares at her befuddled husband and then strides forward purposefully.

Woman: That’s just creepy. I’m going to have a burger.

Don: It’s a trap!

Woman: I’m not afraid.

The Straight Beef: You will be. Yoooou wiiiiilll beeee.

Don: 2.25

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Michael: 2.75

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Scott: 2.75

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Chad: 2.25

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Gorman Street Pub on Urbanspoon

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 #37 – Yard House (Raleigh, NC)

“All during the 45-minute wait for a table I was certain that a staff member would spot my LL Bean Relaxed Fit jeans and rat me out as the suburbanite among the pretty people. I had the urge to pop my collar and call someone ‘bro’ just to fit in.” –Chad

Chad’s Review: Pay No Attention to the Burger Behind the Curtain

The Yard House is loud. The music is loud. The conversation is loud. The artwork is loud. The burgers are big and flashy, with intense and exotic toppings. Just to be contrary, I ordered a Classic, as plain and simple as I could get it, to see what was under the hood.


Please ignore the burger behind the curtain.

What I got for my $14 was a decent hamburger, competently cooked, but no more than that. The real stars of the menu are the big bold burgers—pepper-crusted, caramelized, glazed with pineapple and “Aloha Sauce,” or tarted up with lobster and asparagus, the muscular toppings obscuring the undistinguished but well-prepared patty. Like the Wizard of Oz, once you pull back the curtain (or bun) you realize that all of the sturm und drang is just a distraction, albeit a tasty one. Three out of 5.

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Scott’s Review: Don’t Be Saucy With Me, Béarnaise

Somewhere in North Raleigh I must have entered some sort of space-travel wormhole leading to the opulent chic-fest that is Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Certainly nowhere our fair, modest Triangle, I had assumed, would people squeeze themselves into their tightest, blackest duds for the right to wait an hour for a Fresh & Skinny Martini. But I was wrong. So Wrong.

In an attempt to appear at least minimally chichi, I ordered a burger with an accent in its name: The Béarnaise. (Not The Béarnaise Burger, mind you, just The Béarnaise.) The burger was good—its fried onions a tasty foil for its tender, flavorful patty—though truth be told, I was too busy voguing to fully focus. What I do know is that wherever I might have been—be it Raleigh or 86th and Lex—I was squarely in Three-town. My rating: 3.75.

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Don’s Review: Too Much Turf, Not Enough Surf

The Yard House is about atmosphere and image—loud, colorful, and vivacious. This they make obvious as they take you on a lap around the huge, elliptical bar before seating you at a table you passed when you started your journey.


Would the béarnaise please report to the burger please?

The burger choices were plentiful, but my eyes were drawn to the Surf & Turf—a powerful lineup featuring Maine lobster sautéed in garlic butter, grilled asparagus, Swiss cheese, and tomato béarnaise. Unfortunately, I was to suffer a severe case of “antici-pointment.” The burger was not cooked to order, and the béarnaise was, without warning, replaced with spinach—a definite letdown. And though I could see the lobster, its taste was smothered by the patty and too much asparagus. I give this burger a 3—too much missing from the show.

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Michael’s Review: A Tsunami of Flavor

The flavor of the Pepper Crusted Gorgonzola burger—with marsala sautéed crimini mushrooms, caramelized onions, and baby spinach—matched Yard House’s décor: intense. The spinach was like a man yelling at a tsunami, useless against the onslaught of marsala, pepper, and Gorgonzola. Because the cook didn’t try to blacken the patty (which often happens in an attempted to create a crust on a patty), the combination worked very well overall. Any hint of char was imperceptible.


Bodhi would be all over this.

If you are looking for a place to enjoy a quiet dinner, avoid Yard House. If you want an interesting burger and don’t mind yelling to be heard, this is the place to be. I give the burger a 4 out of 5.

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Yard House - Raleigh 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

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