Archive for September, 2012

One thing that irritates me the most in my food-enriched life is that I have yet to locate a burger in the Orlando area that truly excites my senses. One that makes me drool when I daydream. One that makes my heart race as if it’s preparing for an upcoming heart attack it’s about to have. One that makes me fall in love with beef.

I want to change that fact. Badly.

All of the best burgers I have devoured in my lifetime are not situated in the state they call Florida. Now, I do have high hopes for Graffiti Junktion and am disappointed in myself that I have not frequented that establishment. But until that time, other burger joints are waiting for me. One of them was BurgerFi in Winter Park.

The town of Winter Park really does not fit my personality – give me a small town with one stop sign and a tiny tavern and I’m set – but I have come to enjoy visiting this uppity locale, especially the Farmers’ Market and the Wine Room. On the edge of the main drag sits this interesting burger bar with both indoor and outdoor seating.

We were only a few steps inside before the line reached our feet. It did not help that the people in front of us appeared to have just come from a little league game based on all the youngsters aimlessly running around. Thankfully the tiresome wait allowed my less-than-average-sized brain to study the menu. All I could see were: burgers, hot dogs, custard, beer. I wanted it all. “Why won’t these kids’ parents finally order already, I’m hungggggry!”

Since this served as my first visit to BurgerFi, I wanted the standard burger option, which was the Classic Cheeseburger. Items included were a double angus burger, two slices of American cheese and secret sauce (I of course pushed aside the lettuce and tomato). I do not know the big deal is with “secret sauce,” I mean, just tell me what that sauce consists of because I doubt anyone cares that, ooooooh it’s secret so it must be special.

Either way, what got my attention was the availability of Sea Dog Blue Paw, a favorite of both myself and my girlfriend. We settled into our seats with our adult beverages and studied the awesomely creative pop dispensers off to the side of the restaurant. They were very futuristic, but it made me wonder why standard pop machines did not already look like these. We are living in 2012, pop dispensers should have received an upgrade a long time ago.

When my burger arrived in its metallic tray, the word “BURGERFI” was branded in the bun. I liked that touch, but in reality the buns were small and pretty cheap. With my first bite I recognized that my sandwich was undercooked a little, and proved to not be very memorable. It was a standard burger that tasted good, but unfortunately nothing out of the ordinary.

The prices were in line with that of Five Guys, however I enjoyed the atmosphere better as well as the fact that afterward we traveled nearby to the Wine Room to sit on what was assuredly a disease-infested couch to sip on several different wines.

If I did return to BurgerFi, I would end up trying a Texas Chili Cheese Dog and a shake instead of another burger.

Hopefully my time to visit Graffiti Junktion is coming soon.

Aug. 29, 2012

An Iron Chef located in Cleveland!? When I first discovered this, I actually was not surprised because the city by the lake called Erie boasts the best food establishments throughout this middling landscape. So in Cleveland, this Iron Chef not only operates an upscale restaurant not suited for the likes of my sorry ass, but he owns a burger place as well.

Michael Symon’s B-Spot Burgers. The name? I was already hooked. The fact that it has received awards for the best burgers in America? I needed to research this first hand.

My opportunity occurred Aug. 29 after attending another Cleveland Indians loss at “Jacobs Field” downtown. Symon’s Lola Bistro was within walking distance, however paying $30 for an entrée was not enticing. Luckily a small-version of B-Spot Burgers popped up in the new Horseshoe Casino near the Hard Rock Café.

Although I studied casino management in college, I certainly frowned upon the opening of this casino in the heart of Cleveland. And when I pranced inside the door, I immediately was hit by a wave of depression. So many sour faces sat at blackjack tables and slot machines, as I watched Midwesterners who struggle for every dime throwing their paychecks away. Some casinos may have positive vibes coming from its players, but this one definitely did not.

Having to locate the escalator to the second floor in the middle of the casino, we eventually spotted the small, dark food court and B-Spot Burgers.

A few minutes went by before settling on the burger of choice: the Fat Doug. It contained coleslaw, pastrami, Swiss and Cleveland’s spicy Bertman Ballpark Mustard. I ordered this without the coleslaw of course but least I did not purchase one of B-Spot’s fried bologna. A basket of rosemary French fries were on the docket as well, and I really craved a $5 Bad **S Shake but decided to save that for another time. But a $5 shake? I thought I was on the set of Pulp Fiction.

Made to order, the burger finally presented itself to my eyes (for some reason a slice of bacon was on the side. OK!). The aroma of my meal alone made me need to sit down and contemplate how to engulf this project. Fortunately a table by the window was open and allowed me to look over downtown Cleveland at nighttime. The first thing I noticed was that there was a fancy steakhouse right across the street, and another steakhouse on the very same corner. Yeah, this city needs some work.

The burger hit my mouth. I was afraid the mustard would be too strong, yet that never happened. Add the rich, highly flavorful pastrami and I almost fell off my chair. I never thought I would say that something called a Fat Doug would make my heart race. But then again Cleveland always offers up some disturbing titles for its food.

My rule is I will not rank a burger (or ribs, pasta, etc.) unless I have it at least two times. I will need to visit B-Spot Burgers as soon as physically possible to test this place again. But I have a feeling this will move into the No. 2 spot behind The Melt in Cleveland and in front of Mugshots in Hattiesburg, Miss. Thankfully, there is one in a suburb I always drive through, Westlake, and that location serves up craft beer. Please feed me again now!