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