Monday, January 05, 2009
Chee-burger, chee-burger, Cheeseburger Charly's
My bestest bud, Big Bruce D., and I went to see The Spirit on New Year's Day. [Note: If you liked Sin City, chances are you'll like The Spirit. I liked 'em both.] Before the picture show started, we sat down at Cheeseburger Charley's to enjoy a bite. 'Twas my first time ever to eat at a Cheesebuger Charley's, and, to be honest, I was only half impressed. Allow me to explain ...
Cheeseburger Charley's concept -- grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken breasts served on a half-dozen different style buns, and a "condiment" bar stacked with fresh vegetables and various mustards, mayos, ketchups and sauces -- ain't unique. Indeed, Fuddruckers started doing what Cheeseburger Charley's is now doing years ago.
I can't tell you how many times I ate at Nashville's Vanderbilt U.-area Fudrucker's over the years. It was but a hop, skip and jump ('bout three blocks) from the famous Exit/In; thus, it was a natural pre-concert eating destination before I and assorted buds went to see King's X, Against Me!, They Might Be Giants, etc. I always thought the burgers at Fudrucker's were so-so; but Fuddruckers had great fried taters, and they always had a tub of amazing-tasting sauerkraut on their condiment bar.
But enough with Fuddruckers. Let's talk about Cheeseburger Charley's ...
Right off the bat I'm gonna say: Cheeseburger Charley's French fries leave a lot to be desired. It's one thing for a restaurant to use bags o' frozen taters. It's quite another thing to cook said taters until they resemble thick toothpicks ... thick toothpicks sans salt. That's what I got at Cheeseburger Charley's: over-cooked Ore-Ida fries that lacked post-frying salt, pepper, and, well, flavor.
That said, Cheeseburger Charley's can serve up a pretty juicy burger. Not only is a Cheeseburger Charley's burger juicy, it has a (damn-good) subtly-spiced flavor as well. Which is due to the fact, I'm sure, that said burgers are dusted with an unidentified "spice" concoction whilst cooking. (I seen cooks doing the "dusting.") Furthermore, the bun on which my Cheeseburger Charley's burger was served -- it was grilled before serving, and I liked that -- was as good a hamburger bun as I've ever been served in a chain restaurant whilst eating hamburgers. No kidding.
On to the condiment bar. Cheeseburger Charley's features the standards on its dress-your-burger bar: mustard, ketchup, mayo, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, pickles, and lettuce (just like Fuddrucker's.) Charley's don't stop there, however. There's also Louisiana hot sauce, sliced jalapeno peppers, fresh tomato-onion-pepper salsa, banana peppers, olives, and various barbeque sauces. Wow.
When I said I was just half-impressed with Cheeseburger Charley's, I meant:
They need to learn how to cook fresh-cut French fries (dumping bags of store-bought taters into a fryer ain't a hallmark of a fine restaurant). When they learn how to do that, I'll be there every week ... if not more. After all, Cheeseburger Charley's knows how to cook a burger that is,well, a tasty burger (apologies to Jules Winnfield); they just need to learn how to cook the with the correct équipements.