Thursday, November 11, 2010

Don's Original: Like Bill Gray's, But Good

So... I'm coming around to this Rochester burger thing.  I guess it was bound to happen, because really, I like almost all types of food, and I'm not generally one to discount entire styles or ingredients.  Cuisine evolves because someone comes up with something that works, and it gets passed on down through the ages. Somewhere along the line though, the Rochester burger lost its way and degenerated into the kind of crap that gets served up at Bill Grays. As I learned from my experience at Food, its possible to make a good Rochester style burger, and Don's does just that.  Don's has been around in one form or another since 1945 when it opened up as "Don & Bob's" hot dog cart.  You can find the whole story on their site here and they currently have three locations.  I ate at the one on Monroe Ave.

Of course I was wary going in.  I have been eating crappy Rochester burgers for years, but the friendly dudes behind the counter immediately won me over by giving me the option of getting my burgers (they call the burgers by the old timey name  "Ground Steak Sandwiches" but don't get confused, its just a burger) on a regular bun instead of a kaiser roll!  HELL FUCKING YES!  This burger adventure was off to a good start with the defeat of my Rochester nemesis, that bready german bastard.

They did seem confused about why anyone would want to take pictures of their menu board
So I got their "Famous Ground Steak Sandwich" plus a cheeseburger (which I think really for consistency they should call a "Famous Ground Steak Sandwich With Cheese") and some rings and fries. 

The Spread
Before I get into the burger I want to point out that as you can probably tell from this picture, these onion rings are lightly battered and freshly made, not like the usual crappy bags of frozen rings some places (I'm looking at you Dogtown) will just open up and dump into the fryer.  It is really nice to see an establishment take pride in making decent onion rings from scratch, as they have always been my favorite side when done right.  These rings seriously kicked ass.  Highly recommended.  The fries were mediocre - I'm not a fan of steak fries to begin with and these were pretty bogus anyway - but hey, awesome rings.

Now on to the burgers - here's the autopsy shot of the cheeseburger:

Aww yeah.  This thing was good.  The first thing I noticed about these burgers (apart from the fact that I wasn't chewing through a retarded amount of bread to get to the meat because they offered me the choice of a sane bun) is the quality of the meat.  Definitely a cut above Bill Gray's.   The grillmeister at this location also gave my patties some good char and a great texture - approaching the ideal fast food burger technique.  The accoutrements - spicy meat sauce, mustard, onions and cheese (on the cheeseburger) all mingled nicely, and the meat sauce was a big improvement over that found over at Bill Gray's, mainly because it was spicier.  A dry medium-well patty is always going to require some kind of toppings to give it a boost, and I have to admit that this Rochester trio works.  There was a time in my young naive life when I thought I would never stray from boring toppings like ketchup and mayo, but then at times my thinking gets so uptight that the mere thought of toppings sends me into a blind rage. I guess the moral is that I'm usually wrong about everything, so you probably should take what I'm saying on this blog with a grain of salt.  Or maybe the moral is that life is a journey, so right now I would like to thank Don's Original for being my guide on a little the part of that journey (the part where I start liking Rochester style burgers a little more).

The End (or is it?)

Prices (as of this post):
"Famous Ground Steak Sandwich" (actually just a burger): $3.95
Cheeseburger (actually a "Famous Ground Steak Sandwich" with cheese): $4.30
Fries: $2.85
Onion Rings: $3.85

Monday, March 29, 2010

Food: A Place For Food

 "Food" is an aptly named establishment located in Victor.  I would recommend Food for people that enjoy food, and I am happy to report that they make a very good hamburger (hamburgers are a type of food).  As you can see from the smaller sign to the right of the sign that says Food, the hours of Food are limited, so take note if you are in the mood for food at Food.  Food is usually pretty packed, and its a small place, so be prepared for the possibility of a wait.  Here is what it looks like when it is not open:

Usually, a lot of cars are here.

A sign that the food at Food is going to be good: it is always busy despite being a restaurant named "Food" with weird hours located in a boring portable-looking building next to an office park. My one previous visit to Food had been pleasant, so when I recently became hungry for food, I decided to return, and this time burgers were on the menu.  The menu just said "Cheddar Burger" so I had no idea what to expect in terms of burger style, and our server seemed in too much of a hurry for me to ask, but since everything else at Food is good, I figured it would be a worthwhile offering.

Food serves up easily the best Rochester Style burger I've had to date, and though I'm generally not a fan, this burger won me over with a great execution.  The first thing that set it apart was the bun, which although more robust than the typical fast food style bun, was still extremely soft and light and was clearly fresh baked, making it a great burger vehicle and a far cry from my burger nemesis, the kaiser roll.  I was wary of the name "Cheddar Burger" which could have meant an overpoweringly Cheddary experience, but the cheese used turned out to be very mild, so even thought it was generously applied the flavor was subtle and well balanced in context.

Most important of all, the patty was awesome.  You can see the killer crust peeking out from under the edges of the cheese, and it tasted as good as it looks.  This is a smashed burger done right: smashed onto the griddle at the beginning of cooking, but not weighted down or repeatedly flattened, yielding  maximum surface crust without losing too much moisture.  Not only was this cooked properly, it was also well seasoned, good quality meat. As you can see, they put the lettuce and tomato on the side.  A good move, as they would only detract from this burger.  My only complaint is that I think it would really shine with two patties instead of one, so I may have to ask if they'll make me a double next time.

Verdict: Food serves a great Rochester Style burger, even if you're not particularly into that kind of thing.

Price: $7.00, came with a side of potato salad, which was also good.

(Also:  I should mentioned that the menu at Food changes every day, so the burger might not always be available.  If you want to make sure, give them a call first: (585) 742-3280)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Not a burger: Cheeseburger shot at Lux

From left to right, tequila, tomato juice, pickle juice.  Vaguely reminiscent of a burger.  Would drink again.  Also, actual burger reviews will return, I promise.