Friday, September 9, 2011

Results or Random Thoughts on Burgers?

The best fun I had last winter/spring was perhaps writing this. Mostly because it meant I was blitzed on only the cheapest of dark swill. Hard to imagine I was able to form words at all most of the time.

I would like to give you the results, but I do not have them in front of me. So I cannot. Seriously though, if you read the durned blog, you can figure out the good places to chill at, among other things. I guess being blitzed led to too many ramblings, no comments and only three followers!

The trick was trying to stick to burgers. I obviously failed. But by sticking to only burgers, we could have been distracted by all the other problems of the world and be entrenched in the simple purity of greasy meat. It was my goal to stick to burgers. But the problems of the world, or just me maybe, were too big to be distracted from at times.

I wish I could have tried harder to let the reader understand the necessity of loosing one's self in the purity of the burger and forgetting all other thoughts, memories and daily nuances. I'm sorry I failed you, but I think there is still much to be gained by what we experienced. Some good joints were discovered and I think we learned a little about ourselves. Maybe we just became better friends, either way, the upside was greater than the negatives and I really think it's worth reading.

So let me beg of you, no, no, no, let me get on my knees and beg of you to read this blog. All those other postings you find through Google and such are so horribly inaccurate that it pains my heart. Give me a charbroiled patty and I will die a happy lad.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sidekicks it Is

And then there was one. I’m not even going to get up to go get the score card for this one. We should all simply be excited that this is the final stop on our journey through the burger kitchens of our dreams. Well some of them were the burger kitchens of our dreams anyway.
The fact that I so effortlessly decided to wing this post is a side effect of our effortless scoring for Sidekicks. Can you believe both Sarah and Karen gave 10 out of 10 for burger taste at this place? Our appetites may have said, “Burgers please,” but our hearts said, “Let’s get on with it! Who is the winner?”
And that’s why only three of us wrapped the season up at Sidekicks. I felt like I was kicked in the side when I saw their ridiculous scores. Overall the place didn’t have bad burgers but I don’t think they were anywhere near 10 for taste. I think I was generous albeit weary of burger testing, to give them an 8 out of 10.
From what I can remember, the waitress was nice and they had a decent burger selection. No celebrity encounters, no plain orders, no cribbage, no weird buns and most importantly no soggy underwear. I think everybody is ready to find out who the winners and losers are.
Be sure to stay tuned for the post of posts from the burger coast coming next. Get the low down on what joints to hit and which to avoid incase you still cannot decide from the original posts alone. And there is something to be said about that.
Just kidding, no lame side thoughts tonight for the two (three?) people who read this. And if you’re tuning in for the first time, start from the beginning and enjoy our burger adventure!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Bar West

We’re winding down. Only two spots left this season. But I know a place. A bar I went to once during a Packer game on the other side of the stadium. With much effort I convinced everyone to go. It was me, Nick, Sarah and Karen.

But we get there and not only does the place smell of bowling alley shoes but they don’t serve lunch! Good thing too because the burgers would surely be tainted by the swift scent of fungal bacteria. In a haste we had to find another locale to whet our appetite for burgerlicious desire. The Bar West was close and we knew they served burgers so we drove on over.

Some may say the Bar is a chain so it does not count in burger testing but after much debate we decided to let it slide. And we slid into our seats. At this point in the season we have tasted great and not so great burgers. We were winding down and ready to wrap this journey up. But before we did, the Bar served up their best.

No they weren’t the greatest but it’s a nice place and perhaps they were the benefactors of our easy scoring mood at the time. The waitress was just above average and the condiment availability was top notch.
Flavor averaged out to an 8 out of 10. Like I said, they were the benefactors of our favorable end of the season scoring (wait until you see Sidekicks!). The bun had rave reviews considering the place’s reputation as a hip hang out joint.

Overall we enjoyed the experience and rated them favorably, about a 7.75 overall out of 10. Sometimes it’s easy to give favorable treatment to something you are comfortable with. Even if their burgers were terrible we would have probably given decent scores. And there is something to be said about that.

Where the unknown will take us we could never guess. And so we sidestep things that are not swept along with the eb and flow of the people around us. When someone or something does things that don’t quite equal their square peg fitting into the world’s triangle hole we avoid it for good or bad. It might have been the best or worst of things but at least we remain comfortable in our lives and routines. And so it is with a place like the Bar.

We are comfortable that we know this place and our lives will continue on without interruption no matter what happens. It’s those places under bridges and far away on hilltops, with people playing cribbage and with young kids with crooked hats reading a book of all things that scare us away. Contradiction does not sit well and how could we ever test places where people will not feel comfortable. Most all the world seeks comfort above all else, and they risk little to achieve that comfort. Unfortunately, some of the the most comfortable treasures are found and lost in those places and people we choose to avoid.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Abbey

We are human. As such, we believe in things like second chances. Maybe a bad first impression, a fight with a good friend, something said off the cuff not meant to harm. We say time heals everything. I don’t know, some scars run deep. Back to second chances. Do we all deserve one? One usually turns into several. More importantly, people seem to forget the past all too fast. What is here and now is what we pay attention to. Who wins us over at this moment and in the end, what can I get out of it?

We decided to give the Abbey a second chance. They screwed it up the first time. Treated us like scoundrels. Some people keep going back to a bad situation. But not us … Oh wait, no, we gave them a second chance. Last year their burgers were burnt and they received the absolute lowest score ever in Burger Testing. It only seemed right to give them another try, especially in this the season of many a good burger joint. So we headed to the Abbey one final time. Seriously, one final time.

So the burgers weren’t much better this time around so I won’t bore you too much. I shouldn’t really say that, they obviously made a vast improvement over our last experience but still, the burgers were nothing special. The most amusing part was the waitress. She was very um, disconnected to her surroundings. But she managed to keep up with service and we appreciated her effort so she got threes across the board. We were pretty much in consensus that she was on drugs but it was really no one’s problem but her own.

Flavor scores ranged from a 4 to a 9 out of 10. I don’t know why Karen gave a 9 but either way the overall flavor score averaged pretty low. The bun was alright, averaging about an 8. Overall we gave a score of about 7 out of 10. I think that is a surprisingly good score considering how poor their burgers turned out to be. I don’t think all the crazy college kids go there for the burgers. Maybe they have good tacos or something.

If it's any consolation Sarah and I gave the lowest scores and Karn gave the highest. Plain Jane fell somewhere in the plain middle and our special guest Sarah II came in just below Jane in overall scores.

Some of us never got a first chance. This place got two and never really made up for the first. But I think we all feel a little better that now we know. It’s good to know for sure. So if you’ve never given that second chance now might be the time. It very well could turn out as bad as the first but at least you’ll know. And if you never got around to giving it a first chance in the first place, then what the hell are you waiting for? At some point we need to reach a ‘what the hell’ moment and just find out. Why should there be any repercussions? Run with it and see where it goes. And you can worry about second chances when the time comes, and then you will know. Or just give up on life all together. But don't live forever and die without knowing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


What’s legendary to you? I tried to think of some of the most legendary things I have ever experienced but at times like these, my memory fails me. Age has caught up with me I suppose. Some guy with a sweet roundhouse ninja kick? A lady who does an amazing summersault? I don’t know. Guys who can work their way around a lady with ease seem legendary to me. But really, none of this is legendary.

Sometimes a thing, or person captures some part of us that we cannot explain. I think those moments are what is legendary. That person that for some reason tears out your heart and you can’t explain why. Our lives are divided by what we see and do every day but the emotions we can’t control are sparked by the most unexpected things.

And so we went to Legends, a fine establishment in Aswaubenon. Sarah said she heard the Ashwaubenon bowling alley had good burgers. If they served lunch, she very well could have been right. Fortunately, Legends is just down the street and turned out to be a good backup plan. So we cruised down the road.

The story about this place is their buns. Not legendary at all. They serve only wheat buns and they taste a little different. Don’t get me wrong, different is not always bad (see Titletown) but in this case, it spelled disaster. The bun got low scores overall except for Karen who gave it a 9 for some reason.

The taste averaged out to an 8 overall. It wasn’t a bad burger, if only they chose a different bun. Everything else was rated pretty well. Ease of consumption, condiment availability, presentation and atmosphere all got good marks.

The waitress was so so. She did a good job but didn’t make it an overwhelming experience. Overall we gave it about an 8 out of 10. It was a good side job but nothing spectacular. In fact, the conversation centered more around who is more attractive between Donald Driver and Alex Rodriguez than about the burgers.

If you’re looking for something truly legendary, don’t judge this book by it’s cover when it comes to burgers. While the sign may say Legends, when it comes to burgers I expect a Legendary to be 10’s across the board, maybe a few 11’s.

We all look for a legend, something legendary perhaps. But it is never where we are looking. Rather, it surprises us and usually only after the fact. Maybe we don’t know the legend we seek until after we’ve experienced it, after we have spent time with that legendary thing only to experience a truly awe inspiring experience that we can never have again. If we could, would it still feel legendary? I’m still looking for that burger. My legends overwhelm me. And I’m looking for a burger to do the same.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

White Dog Black Cat Cafe

We try so hard to try and do something new all the time. Not every day, because every day is brushing your teeth and driving to work, etc. But we plan, in advance, something special that we will do different this time. Usually afterwards we feel like idiots and say, “I can’t believe I did that, I’m never drinking again.” But we do.
That’s kind of how I thought I would feel after going to the White Dog Black Cat Café. But I was wrong. What the hell is this place? It looks like some cardboard and plywood fly by night coffee shop that will be closed in a week. Step inside and you’re still left a little wondering. There is a full bar with stools and everything. Then, it really does turn into a coffee shop with couches and everything. Turn the corner and you’re in a nice restaurant. I’m not sure what they are going for, but it was a nice place overall.
The dining area was very dark but nice. They had all sorts of paintings on walls with price tags on them. It was kind of one of those places. It’s just amazing though, that places like this exist, places we never heard of and would never dare step foot in. I’m glad I did.
Tom suggested the place. I don’t know why. He must have heard some crazy rumor about good burgers made from dogs and cats maybe. Either way, we are fortunate we went. Their 100% beef patties were nothing short of delicious.
The entire panel made it out! And we were joined by guest celebrities Liz and Mandi. Mandi had the audacity to ask if she ordered the veggie burger if it would count for the burger test (I’m shaking my head right now). Either way, we had seven people scoring the burgers!
I told you the burgers were good. We had mostly eights and nines across the board for flavor. Sarah, Nick and Mandi gave eights. Tom and I gave nines, probably because it was his joint and I was overwhelmed by the experience. Karen and Liz pulled sevens. Maybe Karen had a bad burger, and Liz isn’t one of the professionals so maybe she was just giving tough love. I ordered some crazy thing with a slab of cream cheese on it and it was delicious!
Scores for flavor would have been higher except most people thought their burgers were over done on the outside. It kills me because I think this is something they do on purpose and I wish it didn’t affect the score. I did notice the outside of the burger being a little crisper than usual. I thought it gave it a char-grilled type flavor and assumed that is what they were going for.
There is so much to say about this place. Condiment availability was good across the board. Except for Sarah because she did not get a pickle. And I can’t blame her. That might have pissed me off too. Ditto for ease of consumption. The burger was put together well. It wasn’t sloppy, didn’t slide around and did the damn job it was meant for.
The bun was rated the highest of anything. Eights and nines for everyone. And they were nothing out of the ordinary. They were burger buns, but they were real good. This was a bun place for sure. Right along with a hearty atmosphere score too.
I’m a little surprised that the overall scores were not spectacular across the board. Four sevens and three eights. I think we did a disservice to this place, it probably should have been Four eights and three nines.
Some people were put off by the waitress. Nick and I gave her a hard time and she told us to hurry with our orders because she had other customers to wait on. I wasn’t offended but I guess most of the group was. She did make a strong come back though and kept our drinks full. Even Janie gave her a four!
The only other note is that they had a litter box in the restroom and Karen used it. They keep the litter fresh and everything. I think it’s a clumping formula.
As I randomly roll off the scores we give, I forget that the readers don’t know the scoring system. I will make a separate post about it some day. But basically, taste, bun and overall are out of 10 points. Everything else is out of five points. This place should put up a battle with Titletown in the end. But I fear that the lower overall scores will hurt its chances.
In the end we found that ‘new’, that ‘different’ thing we were looking for. In the morning we awoke and smiled thinking, “Did that really happen? Because I’m really glad that it did.” If only we had more mornings like that.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fox Harbor

Do you get it? A bar on the Fox River -- Fox Harbor. Oh, that's a side killer. I get it!
Don't expect to find great parking but once you're in, you're in. The bar is a really nice little bastion of alcohol, a charming place to gather and discuss business with your colleagues. But what does a nice bar have to do with a good burger?
Unfortunately, not a whole lot. We all wanted the burger to be as great as the place seemed to be. And when the burgers arrived, they looked amazing. The burgers were not delivered on golden plates or on top of a mountain. But when I got mine, I told Nick that I didn't want to eat it because it looked too delicious. That's why I gave it a 5/5 for presentation, because before even tasting it, it looked like the best burger I'd ever tasted. The rest of the gang gave high scores too, mostly 5's.
Another lean group of testers showed up for this one. Myself, Sarah, Karen and Nick.
What should I tell you about first? Obviously we were under whelmed by the burgers. When we get down to it, the burger taste and bun were rated fairly low. The bun about a 6/10 average and taste a 6 or 7/10
They had a fairly original lineup of burgers with different flavors across the board. But that is really all they offered. The burger was not great, and the buns were poor and dry. The stuff they put on the burgers is the only thing worth ordering a burger in the first place. They’ll layer on pepper jack cheese and jalapeños until it is so hot you can’t taste the burger. That’s a good thing.
We all loved the atmosphere, it really is a nice place, but the wait staff was non existent. Much of our conversation centered around the service or lack there of. A random guy took our orders. Someone else entirely brought us the food, and then we got our bills eventually. The servers were really unenthused. We discussed giving a 0 for service, but, the service did exist, it was minimal.
Overall, it was a nice place, an enjoyable time, but the burgers were not good. Keep that in mind. If you’ve had a lot to drink, the burgers will look and seem amazing in your mind. If you want a good burger, I would seek it elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Skips Diner

Simply skipping along on a sunny afternoon. Skipping all around the room. We think of years past when as kids we jumped and frolicked along. Knowing, that nothing would ever be wrong. Nothing in our hearts but a song. And so we skipped here and there. Seemingly without a care but not unaware.
On a certain Friday afternoon we skipped right on over to Skips on Holmgren Way, less than a stones throw away. Many a time had we passed this establishment, on our way to some other secret hint. Another joint with the best burger.
“Why not try Skips?” Nick would say.
“No reason at all,” I would relay.
And so, during Burger Testing Season One, we went to Skips, where they ruined our fun!
“We do not take plastic, debit, checks or credit,”
“Pay attention, you should have read it!” the waitress bellowed.
“Who amongst us has cash to pay?” we asked.
“No one, at least not today,” responds Tom.
Finding a day when an entire panel will pay, is more difficult with cash than credit any day.

We put our collective feet down and made a point to skip the town and into Skips with a few dollars in our pockets. They don't take credit, but we will rockets (rock it)! Or keep a few dollars in your lockets? But please don’t drop its? Anyway, today was Skips day to sock it!
I want to string together crappy rhymes all day, and I probably would, but it will take four hours and I just don’t want to stay up that late. So here it is; we finally made it to Skips. Nick had always wanted to go, the rest of us were just along for the ride. Sure we want to hit up any place with a good burger, but what was so special about Skips?
Maybe it was the fact that it was one of the few remaining structures in Aswaubenon that was built before 1920. Ok, I don’t know that for fact, but when you step in the door, you certainly go back at least 20 years. So to the jerk kids today, it might as well be 1920.
There is nothing really spectacular about this diner. It has tables and greasy spoons, but is not ideal if you’re looking for the best diner in the world. The abundance of old folks playing cribbage is above average however. The outside walls were mostly windows which was nice in a place like this. Except the building is out of place in the middle of Packer territory. Unless you consider that it was a hotbed of excitement in the roaring 60's.
The employees are diner folk, very nice older women as waitresses, a hairy old angry guy with a paper cap cooking in the back, and a strange young lanky lad bussing the tables. We did not feel out of place or even lose face, when we sat at their largest table for eight. We did however feel some sort of disconnect.

This Friday, the panel, save Tom, made it to the test. Kayla also joined the group and was a delight for sure. Amongst the newcomers was a mistress named Heidi, a new coworker of Nick’s, out testing the waters at a new place. Well good for her. Hopefully she joins us again, but I cannot blame her if she does not. And as always, Kayla has shown to be the most resilient friend to the burger testers as we may have.
So let’s skip to the brass tacks. The menu was somewhat promising. A promising lineup of burgers. The only extraordinary burger was the Skips Burger, the others were routine but abundant, and available.
Neither of our guests ordered burgers, I was the only one to order the Skips Burger so I will go first. I chose the burger only because no one else would and it was Skips signature burger. In doing so, I may have become the ass of the group. The burger featured a beef patty and a brat patty. I was apprehensive of testing a burger mixed with a brat. Unfortunately, the brat did overpower the burger. The discs were about the same size and obviously a brat has more seasoning. Oh, someday I will have to write about the marvelous Titletown Cajun Burger, it was truly a delight (they did the sausage burger thing right). Anyway the burger part was good but the brat part was overpowering and extra greasy. It still tasted very good so I gave it 7 taste.
Sarah really enjoyed the service and the food. But clearly, the establishment was not her cup of tea. Her lowest score was a 3 and went to atmosphere. Overall she gave a 7, which easily would have been an 8 almost anywhere else.
Plain Jane, er, Nick gave the atmosphere the highest score of all, a 4. In fact, he gave it a better rating than anyone else. Maybe it was the fact that he was pinned as the Skips guy, so he felt obligated to give them a pass. But I think he was perhaps the most honest. They truly did have a good burger, a better bun, the waitress was nice and nothing was really wrong. We couldn’t knock off points for anything, so I think Nick gave it an honest score, an overall of 8.
And then there is always Karen. Who did she meet in the bathroom today? Well, probably no one at Skips, maybe the bus boy, Ray. I’m not sure who copied who, but Karen and Sarah gave the exact same scores for every category. I think Karen wanted to give the place an 8 overall because of the burger alone, but settled for a 7 due to all the elements.
So together, most of the group was pleasantly surprised by the charm of the waitress. She was not spectacular, but for some reason, the group thought she was very good. Burger flavor was a solid 8 across the board. They had good burgers to be sure. One jerk gave a 7 for taste, but that was because he ordered the brat burger thing. Condiment availability and ease of consumption were all rated high. I think the buns played a big role in ease of consumption. They may be easily overlooked, but Skips had some good buns. The buns enabled an ease of consumption and were tasty. The major downfall was the atmosphere. In today’s world of fast cars and loud music, we just cannot stay still long enough to appreciate old folks squabbling over a Cribbage game gone awry.

If you are still reading this post, read a bit more. Skips may be the absolute best burger per dollar joint in the state. Better than sleaze holes like the MacDonalds! At skips, you can get a delicious burger and fries for $5. This isn’t just another value meal. The burgers are top notch compared to places that charge similar rates. It would be like the most gourmet of Big Macs, for a fraction of the cost. If you want, or need a great burger and only have $5, head to Skips. We understand not everyone can always afford to try some of the outrageously priced places we test, but Skips will give you a taste of the real thing for a fraction of the cost.
Skip with it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


We’re going to get naked for a burger test! Oh wait, we are going to a strip club. Either way, someone is naked! Oh wait it’s not really a strip club. Obviously it was once a strip club. They called it Xcetera. But it was not even Xcetera anymore. They wanted to move away from the strip club label so they renamed the place the Broadway Supper Club.
And they were right to do it too. Because there are no strippers there anymore. I tried to relive the experience and see if anyone in the group wanted to get naked. It didn’t work. I would have done it, but I think Karen has a camera phone, and you know, what with you tube and such these days...
Anyway, it was mentioned on a random blog once, that a place called Xcetera had good burgers. After much research, we concluded the former Xcetera was now the Broadway Supper Club.
We walked into a dark, damp, dungeon of cellars. One half bar, one half, some type of former stripper club restaurant. We all had a good chuckle at our surroundings. Instead of window curtains, they had what appeared to be shower curtains around the walls. In fact, it seemed a bit cluttered.
Seriously, it’s the burgers that are important. Unfortunately, we waited nearly 45 minutes for our order. Obviously Nick was going to smoke the waitress score with a 1, but he gave her a 3 like most of us did. She was nice and obviously did her job despite the slow service.
Whence the burgers finally did arrive, they were met with delight. For such a shady, dirty strip club of a place, we gave eights across the board for flavor. Something about their burgers was right. And that’s saying a lot when so much about the place was wrong.
We all gave high scores for condiment availability, except for Nick, he must not have received his Catcup. And although good, the burgers were a bit sloppy jalopy. It was not as easy to eat the burgers as it was to taste their excellence.
As you can imagine, in a dungeon of a former strip club, the presentation scores were average to low. The bun was a low score too, and so was overall experience. Obviously the burgers themselves tasted very good, but everything else, hurt the experience. It’s hard to enjoy a great burger if a shower curtain is falling down on your head and there is no lighting in the joint. Clearly, the atmosphere was a very low score.
Overall, if you are blind, deaf and mute, this is an awesome place for a burger! Otherwise, you get a good burger but you leave feeling a little dirty and not quite right.
Lets talk about the panel, Nick, Karen, Tom and I made it out this week. Sarah was on vacation, in a better place. I was the jerk of the group by giving a 6 overall when everyone else gave a 7. I think Tom was the one that said it reminded him of a place called Studio 8.
I think you have heard enough by now. I was under whelmed. Nick liked the burger but was unimpressed with the place. Karen showed off some of her dance moves, but cared for little else and Tom was too nice to a dirty establishment. I just wanted to dance on the rusty pole.

So now for the moral of the week. What is it? What is the biggest lesson I’ve learned that I want to spin off on the burger blog? I don’t know. No burger will ever be the burger you dreamed of, but if you find one that works, stick with that shiznit. Because it might be the best you can find. Ok, lets do a better one.
Um, come up with some secret signal that no one else will know. Say, put your butter knife perpendicular to your fork or vis a versa. Something like that. To signal that you favor, or disfavor the burger, or a need to dance… That way, you don’t need to worry about influencing your fellows with a certain rating. For example, if you are unsure of your burger, cross your utensils. If the person across from you does the same, then you have a basis to work with. All you have to do is share one word with the person across from you. Something like, “It’s a nice day” meaning it is good. Or, “The floor is sticky” meaning it is bad and there is no chance. I don't know, whatever.
Anyway, enjoy your damned burger.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Burger Company

You reading this, what would you name the premier burger joint, home of the greatest burger you have ever tasted? Ok, so anyone with half a brain could think of some crazy cool name like Burgers Extraordinaire or something. For the rest of us, the simple folk, I think we would settle for something like The Burger Company. And what a company it was.
The story does not begin last Friday. No, it begins several Fridays ago. If you recall, the burger testing season got off to a slow start. We tested one joint and for various reasons took many Fridays off. One such Friday in January, I personally had the day off. On Thursday I say to the group, “I won’t be at work tomorrow, but I would gladly meet you for the weekly burger test. Such is my devotion to burger testing.”

We agreed to meet at The Burger Company. Friday came, I was working on my new kitchen, probably headed to the gym for a well rounded run (the winter treadmill), yet diligently made time for burger testing.
I walked into the small establishment after the slow frigid walk to the front door thinking maybe I am early, no one I knew had arrived. There were only about six tables in the joint. One right by the door was open with seating for maybe six people. A smaller table by the window was available but I knew others were coming. I told the elder waitress I was waiting for guests and ordered a coffee. While I waited I took in the surroundings.

More a coffee shop with a bar than a burger joint, I felt very comfortable. A TV on the wall was tuned in to a network cable channel. After about 20 minutes of waiting the waitress came back and asked, “You still wanna wait, or do you wanna order?” To which I replied something along the lines of, “If they’re not here now, they may never come and I’m hungry so I think I’ll order.” And order I did. I ordered the Shroom Burger and was very pleased. I tabled my ratings and enjoyed the burger for what it was.
On Monday I asked everyone what the hell happened. We may be adequate burger testers, but when it comes to communication, something is left to be desired. Apparantly the Friday burger test had dissolved that week and no one felt fit to tell me. 600 words later, and I can finally tell you about the Burger Company.
Oh, there is more to tell. We never went to the Burger Company because Sarah said it was not open for lunch. We saw that it was and so we finally decided to go. Anyway, it was an easy choice to make. Kayla joined us for this endeavor. We certainly appreciate any burger nomads who want to join us and if nothing else, provide swell company.
When we arrived we were given a flimsy single sheet white paper menu. I tried in vain to explain that when I had come previously they had actual menus. Perhaps they were now in transition. Anyhow, besides the few snide comments, it did little to demur spirits.
Sarah ordered the California Burger, Karen and I the Black and Bleu Burger. And Nick earned a new Nickname when he ordered the Plain Jane. Our guest, Kayla also had a California Burger, although she is not part of the regular panel there is a part of her order of note. When her Burger arrived it was hand delivered by the cook, an elderly gentleman, presumably the owner, with some kind words. A moment later, Kayla realized there was no special sauce (Thousand Island dressing) on her burger. Immediately, the old man went to the kitchen and retrieved an entire bottle of the delicacy!
I would tell you the final scores but the consensus was, that this small, cozy coffee shop atmosphere of a place really grabbed the goers on this day. For a small unexpected joint, we gave good scores. The service got a five across the board. The hardest hit categories were presentation and atmosphere. Presentation because they make no effort to embellish their burger. It stands on its own and comes in an ugly basket.
Sarah was worried her score would affect the overall rating because she had a rare condition of an underwhelming burger at a decent joint. But Nick was quick to say that this is why we have at least four people providing scores. Nick was also forever known as Plain Jane following this rendezvous. He was not overwhelmed with the place but thoroughly enjoyed their burger.
Karen and I really enjoyed the place. Something about it comforted me and the burgers were not bad. Karen may have been a bit biased because she saw Donald Driver in the bathroom. We tried to remind her that we were there to test burgers, not wide receivers. Apparently, Donald has good hands.
Overall, I think the gang was pleasantly surprised by this little bastion of burger hope. It is a neat, quaint little shop that whips up a pretty good burger, and better service.
One final note. As previously mentioned, our communication is poor. Caught up in the dissarray of our congregation was Tom. To him, we owe our deepest and most sincere apologies. For we were without him and suffered much. He is our rock and because of our deviance and ineptitude, he was left behind. We will never forget, and never let it happen again. Tom, for in you, our burger salvation lies.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

From the Beginning

How did Burger testing begin? Perhaps this story would better be written by another member. It shames me to admit that at the first burger testing, I did not test a burger. Memory fails me now. I will have to open the annals but I cannot recall our first burger test. Krolls West comes to mind but doesn't seem right.

Regardless, we arrived, we ate and we scored, the burgers. My memory is so hazy, I venture to guess it was Sarah's idea to begin burger testing. We often had group lunch once a week and Tom, Karen, Nick, Sarah and I were staples. Let us imagine the Friday before the first burger test:

(Wavy memory lines.)
Nick: Would you rather wear wet underwear everyday or wet socks?
Sarah: Um, I don't know.
Karen: Let me think about that.
Tom: (Laughs) socks.
Me: Socks, wet boxers would be terrible.
Sarah: I think I'd do wet underwear.
Karen: I don't know. Maybe socks?
Me: (To Nick.) What about you?
Nick: Probably underwear. I don't know, I would feel socks everytime I walk. I think I'd get used to underwear.
Sarah: Work sucks, let's test burgers around the Greater Green Bay area.

To the best of my recollection, that is how burger testing began. I don't know if now is the time to discuss last year's winner. But it was very close between Curly's and Champions Bar and Grill.

We changed the scoring this year to give less value to things like atmosphere and waitress, and more value to burger-important categories such as taste and bun. The new scoring should help eliminate close battles between places like Curly's and Champions. And Nick's personal vendetta against waitresses.

The importance lies in that what we do will never change. We will test burgers and go from place to place. Our tests will remain accurate per our scale and only the locale and burgers themselves will change. As for us, we will remain who we are well after all is said and done. A bold move is required to change the state of things and no single person is capable of such a move. We will skitter and frit along the edges of temptation, yet never step over the edge. The constant is burgers for which we will always arrive and intersect at a crossroads, time and time again.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Titletown Brewing Company

How fitting. A Titletown burger test on the eve of the reemergence of Titletown. To be fair, the test was conducted weeks ago, January 7, 2011 as it were. If it was not stated, the date would be meaningless, this posting is as timely as ever.
The Titletown Brewing company was the final stop for a rail line that once ran from Milwaukee to Green Bay. What a story to write that would be. This is a burger test, not a political forum of the rights and wrongs of high speed rail. Let us conclude this test of spectacles.
What a fortunate set of circumstances to allow a group of ‘haggard’ testers to try a burger or two. After the rail line shut down, the Titletown Brewing Company eventually came to power. And what an emergence it was, at least for the sake of our slobbering appetites. Hopefully you know us enough now to at least somewhat understand our motivation, even desires maybe.
Now that the readers have a somewhat vague familiarity with our testers they can take into account our random traits. Eventually they all run together and the scores we compile matter the most. Due to the untimely demise of Tom, Dick and Harry’s, the Titletown Brewing Company is our first set of scores for the new year. What a tease to the viewership.
We thought maybe the waitress teased us with the offer of a Skippy Burger. It was no tease, rather a burger slathered with delicious Skippy peanut butter. Anyway, this is how it went down: As per usual, Sarah asked where we should go. I often suggest places not within the immediate area that are often rejected because they are different but we agreed on the Green Bay Brewery that is actually Titletown Brewery.
Nine people signed up to go. A good number for prime results. Unfortunately only four of us ordered Burgers. To say the least, the others provided charming company.
The Spicy Elk burger attracted me the most. Nick ordered the Brewer burger, Sarah the Bison burger and Tom and Karen took the leap of faith on the Skippy burger.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Spicy Elk. We were a bit perturbed at the bun situation. Titletown Brewing uses various flavored breads to bun their burgers. Although the ‘buns’ were very unexpected, they presented a delightful surprise. To be honest, I was enamored with the atmosphere. The burger was delicious and I couldn’t rate it any less than a nine overall.
Don’t be dismayed that I group the rest of the crew together, for they all gave an overall score of eight points.
Karen was kind enough to share part of her Skippy burger with me and I found that somehow the combination of peanut butter and burger was delicious. Tom and her gave nearly identical ratings.
Surprisingly, Nick rated the flavor his Brewer burger a paltry six but the other categories enamored him enough to enable the overall score of eight.
A score of eight from Sarah however does not come lightly. I knew it was either the burger or the good company, perhaps both, that gave her a rise. I felt her enamored sense of things the vibrations of the table.  The taste coupled with the exotic sounding menu was enough to exclaim the excellence of this joint.

If there were any negatives about the place it was that some guy named Nick thought his burger was not quite cooked to specifications.
Overall the place was very nice. It was an old train station reminding me of an old wooden dormitory. The waitress was extremely cheerful and kept our water glasses full. I’m not sure what needle work is, but someone seemed to have enjoyed it. Rare is the first burger test that results in a score of eights across the board.
Often, the first test is a series of hard scoring and little fanfare. We can safely assume that Titletown Brewery is a safe haven for those seeking a superior burger.
It is with disdain I don’t write more about the other guests seated at tables beside us or the flowing atmosphere. There is so much to say but as these blogs often go, I fear I have rambled on far too much. Until the next test, take our recommendations to heart and flow forth to a better tomorrow, sometime around noon and at a vestibule with a better burger, I'd imagine.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Round Two, Burger Testing 2011

Lose weight for a New Years resolution? Please. Stand out by eating out. Resolve to explore the greater Green Bay area for the tastiest, juiciest and yes, fattest burger!
We were just like you, wallowing in all the failures of yester-year as the ball dropped. Thinking back on it all, past failures and future accomplishments, etc.
Let's get to the story. Sad but true, the gang began the new year on a lame leg by hitting up Tom, Dick and Harry's just a step from the stadium. They went out of business a week later. Rumor has it we gave them a bad review and they had no other option. In truth, their burgers were not bad. The wait however killed our senses, the taste sense for the most part.
Speculation arose that we may have come across yet another pregnant waitress. Prego waitresses don't make the burger but they sure distract from it. Suffice it to say, the  team voted not to include Tom, Dick and Harry's in the competition. It only seems reasonable considering the unwritten standard that based on our results, a patron could not go to the establishment since they are now out of business. I hate to leave you with nothing further but as it stands, Tom, Dick and Harry's no longer exists. Rest in peace sweet prince of burger flipping.
Little else follows. I'm ashamed to admit and will take the bold step of speaking for my fellows, that due to circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to test any burgers save one in the ensuing four weeks. Therefore I have no choice but to leave the audience hanging, as it were. I will document our lone success in next week's edition. From there, let us hope we are fruitful in our never ending quest to find the best burger in the Greater Green Bay Area.
For now, let me introduce the panel:
Nick--A strapping young lad very particular about his burgers. His ratings are very formal and take good order into account. Weary are the waitresses who forget to fill his drink. Others may rate the burger alone but Nick knows better. He can be swayed to raise or lower his scores but nary a single point is frivolously checked.
Karen--The stealthy feline of the group has known a burger or two in her day. Less important is whether the waitress is preggo or not or if the water is warm. It is instinct that drives her passion, not boring stats. She can tell if a burger is like no other she has tasted and goes unimpressed at even the most sumptuous palates if it is something she has seen all too often. Because instinct alone can only judge a burger so far, less popular although just as important categories like condiment availability could very well be the deciding factor in her score.
Tom--Our lovable affable burger connoisseur. Tom is easy going and charms us all with his  presence. The scores he compiles for each burger is more a mystery to us than to the readers themselves. A good burger will not pass his plate unnoticed, rather it will be consumed with the utmost respect and admiration. For him, the atmosphere could very well be as important as taste in his merry mind. Could any burger panel exist with any less a free spirit?
Sarah--Sar-bear is the steely eyed vixen of our group. Regardless the importance of her score we all look to her rating with waiting hearts. Perhaps by default, perhaps by passion, she leads our group to success. While we exclaim a delectable dish  she keeps us honest and brings us back to Earth. On those occasions when there is one outlying score, you can be sure it is hers. An enigma of epic proportions that could take a lifetime to figure out. The passion begins with Sarah, and through her lovely eyes, and more appropriately her mouth, we form our results.
And then there is me--I try to stay true to the values of burger testing. Need I say more. Taste is most important to me.
We invite as many friends of the group as we are able to muster up better results. On any given occasion there can be four to ten people gathered for a burger test. Those I have listed are the true caretakers of this endeavor. I end now, there is much more to say but I have gone on long enough. In the coming weeks you will hear of special vestibules and dreary bars. Former tests will come to light as they should have ages ago. And in the end, a new best burger will be crowned. Until then my friends, never stop the desire for a better burger. Perhaps the best burger is in our hearts.