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.