|When Chef La Monde is
preparing his famous "Daube de boeuf a la provencal" he uses
only the finest ingredients. His spices are applied with an even
hand and each dish is tasted throughout the entire cooking
process. His sauces are a delicate balance of oils, butters,
cheeses, creams, and herbs. At its climax, Chef La Monde artistically
weaves the different flavors and textures together and presents it to
his awaiting customers. He would never bake a piece of beef and
tell his customers to season and concoct their own sauces in the
lobby. He is an artist and takes pride in the fact that in his
education in culinary perfection and would never allow a pedestrian to
stand in between his stove and table.
However, at Fudruckers the guys at the grill are unprofessional and an embarrassment to our national cuisine. They are not chefs, not even cooks; they are minimum wage burger flippers. Fudruckers claims to have the "World's Greatest" burger but fail to live up to Chef La Monde's French standards which is below what true American's need to demand.
The 1/3 pound fresh beef patty was unseasoned and fried. It lacked any flavor -- even young children know that salt brings out the natural flavor in any dish. Does a 1/3 pound of unseasoned fried ground hamburger sound appealing? No! Yet, restaurant after restaurant prepares their burgers in this manner, and our lemming public drops them into their bellies without a thought. Atop this patty was a slice of over processed cheddar cheese, also devoid of flavor.
The condiments and sauces were in a big cow trough located in the lobby. It was stocked with all the grazing material: lettuce, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and pickles. Also provided were squirt jugs of catsup, mustard, mayo, BBQ sauce, nacho cheese, and salsa. Being an expert in eating and tasting and not cooking and preparing, I squirted too much sauce on my tasteless burger and even more on my hands, with a squirt or two on my size 11 Bruno Maglis. While the quality of these condiments was good, I did not pay $6.15 to make it myself.
The bun was the highlight of the meal. It was a fresh baked, flaky roll with a chewy texture; however, it was a bit small for the burger. The fries were higher quality frozen, skin-on potato wedges, very similar to what can be purchased at Safeway. These wedges were sprinkled with season salt to either cover up the frozen flavor or to add flavor to these bland spuds. Real, fresh-cut potatoes don't need season salt and acts as a red flag for the Burger Guys.
If Fudruckers wants to live up to its claim as the "Worlds Best" burger, it is going to have to hire real cooks and pay attention to detail.
This was a trip I was waiting for with great anticipation. Although I have been to the similar chain Flaky Jakes, I have never set foot in a Fudruckers. My stomach growled as I approached the double glass doors, I was all a-buzz with anxiety because I read the reviews. Sure I read the journals, I do a little research on the side, I would not be one of the world's foremost authorities on burgers if I didn't, but reading the reviews ahead of time builds one's expectations.
As I walked into the store I felt at home immediately. The floor is hardwood and carpet, there are beer cases out in plain view, and there is clutter all about. The vinyl blue and white gingham table clothes were reminiscent of my Mom's curtains, the Price Club containers of salt and pepper at each table were just kitschy enough to not be tacky ( the same way one of Sacto's best lunch spots, Nicoles, used to use unmatching stoneware, china, and flatware).
"Fud's" gimmick is to let you be the judge. They grill it, you fill it. You select your choice of fresh ground chuck patty and one of 5 cheeses (we selected cheddar). While they fry you may peruse the condiment bar and plan your burger. As a registered Libertarian I enjoy the freedom of choice in this system. Some people like whole leaf lettuce while some like chopped; "Fud's" has both. In fact they have an array of crispy fresh condiments in sliced, diced, chopped, and pureed varieties. They have salsas, melted cheese, and a jalapeno cheese dip for the spice lovers.
Our burger arrived a short 15 minutes later and we went to the condiment bar to pile it on! For some reason my burger was very unreceptive to this assault, probably due to the fact the patty cooked up like a meatball! They need those iron hamburger presses to keep a 1/3 patty at the desired 1.25 cm thick and 10. to 11. cm in diameter. Although tasty, this burger was too thick in the middle and too thin at the edge. Also, would it hurt profits too much if a little salt and pepper was sprinkled on the patty while it was frying? Fudruckers has a very exquisite bun that is baked on the premise. It has a flaky texture with a bit of chewiness to it. The only flaw in the bun was it was a little too small to handle such a thick meatball of a burger. If they would follow the NBS (National Burger Society) guidelines for thickness to diameter ratio the bun would have been a work of art. One final note, quit believing those California cheese commercials. If I were to blind fold myself I could not tell CA. jack from CA. cheddar. Go north to the Tillamook ranches! Oregon has some of the best most flavorful cheese on this planet and they get no love from the media.
The fries at this place are potato wedges. They are not worthy of this column for a review. They were buried in peppery season salt and they were way to thick. We were fooled by the texture into thinking the were fresh, but they were just frozen Shake and Bake potatoes. What these wedges needed was a cup of Danny's (on Broadway) 3 alarm chili, a 1/2 cup of chopped white onion, and some shredded aged sharp Tillamook cheddar.
When I finally tore into my burger I was impressed with the flavor of all the ingredients together. The bun was so good, I may go back and buy a dozen of those beauties and cook up some of my own burgers to savor over the weekend. Lastly, I must make a statement on the atmosphere. As I said earlier it is homey and I felt comfortable lingering there. I guess there is something to be said for a Bose sound system, TV's on baseball games, and comfy chairs that were made for rocking in. I kind of half expected my Mom to come out of nowhere and holler at me for tipping the chair back.
Point Total 69
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