After it seemingly sprang from nowhere, the words “Gourmet Burger” seemed to follow me wherever I went. About a week and two recommendations later I found myself crossing the threshold into a brand new food adventure. A quick assessment of the inside had me thinking that this must be one of those hole-in-the-walls with food that keeps you coming back. While it certainly constitutes a hole in the wall, a return trip to “Gourmet Burger” is certainly not on the menu.
Let me start by saying that, when it comes to restaurants, patience is something I’ve got plenty of. Having worked for many years in multiple restaurants, I know how it can be. Sometimes it gets busy, orders are lost, food is burned. Sometimes it just isn’t your day. I can understand that, and while not preferable, there’s nothing wrong with having an off day every once in a while. On the flipside, while I do have a well above-average patience threshold, there comes a point when enough is enough.
Upon entering, the interior resembled something thrown together in a weekend; A very small, very simple venue to serve (what I hoped would be) good food. A few friends and I sat ourselves at one of the available tables. The menus were laid out very simply with a few appetizers in the $4.99 range and most entrees around $6 to $10. The Stuffed 1/2 Pound Burgers they’re allegedly “famous” for come with a 16 oz drink and one refill for $7.99. While it certainly isn’t a bad price for a half-pound of meat, charging for more than one refill on a 16oz drink is classless. They serve Coke products as well as a brewed sweet tea that somehow managed to taste like the kind made from syrup.
Now to the important part. On paper, Gourmet Burger has the makings of a miraculous restaurant. A hamburger stuffed with ingredients and grilled to perfection is quite a mouthwatering proposal. Pair that with a recommendation for the wings and a natural love for quesadillas and I had what I thought would be the perfect dining experience. I literally could not have been more wrong.
Our original order was as follows: 1 chicken quesadilla ($4.99), 1 steak quesadilla ($4.99), 10 “buffalo” style wings ($6.50) and 1 cheese stuffed 1/2 pound burger ($7.99). After the waitress took our order, she handed it over to the cook. He seemed kind of busy already and in a tone that implied trouble the waitress told him, “You have another order.” Though it seemed foreboding, I thought nothing of it and continued waiting for the food. After about 10 minutes, the waitress brought out one quesadilla. One chicken quesadilla in a tray, all on its own. She asked if I wanted salsa, guacamole or sour cream. Seeing how it’s pictured on the menu with one large cup of each, naturally I asked for all three. About a minute later she returned with a thimbleful of each. By this point, the rest of the food was still nowhere to be found but I figured the next time she came around I’d ask for more.
The quesadilla was alright, but the chicken was overcooked and dry and while there was technically cheese on it, there was so little I could barely taste it. As I continued to lube it up with sour cream to make it go down a bit easier, our 10 buffalo wings came by. I was surprised to see they came with fries, making the price an even better value. (By this point we had still heard nothing of the rest of our food but we did hear the waitress ask about our as yet unseen steak quesadilla and a “cheese”.) I then asked if we could have some ranch to go along with the wings and she brought us a squeeze bottle for the table, avoiding another tiny-side fiasco. As I finished my first wing though, I noticed a large bit of completely uncooked chicken still clinging to the bone. Having been on the other end of this stick at least a few times, I simply asked if they could cook them a little more. I’m not looking for any free meals, I’d simply like what I’m paying for. Without so much as an apology (or really any words for that matter), they took the wings back to be cooked some more.
As soon as the wings came back, so came our steak quesadilla, making our meal three-quarters served, but still missing a burger. The steak quesadilla, having exponentially more cheese, was better but we still had to ask for more condiments and were still given the tiniest portions in existence. We soldiered on, waiting for the stuffed hamburger that was sure to be the saving grace of the entire trip. A few minutes later, our waitress–still burgerless–decides to come by and drop off our check. You know, the very same check that has a half pound, cheese-stuffed hamburger on it, a burger we have still not received. As she began to walk off, we asked her if the burger was still coming. She seemed terribly puzzled by this question, as if this we had stepped into some alternate universe in which you pay for hamburgers but don’t get to eat them. After reminding her which burger we were talking about, she proceeded to tell the cook that she “still needed that cheese”. All this meant was, the entire time we waited there, the burger had not been on the grill.
So, we continued waiting, eating our mediocre quesadillas and twice-fried wings for another few minutes when a burger finally came out. Now this particular burger surely doesn’t live up to the “Gourmet Burger” name nor could it be considered gourmet by any means. Despite being ordered medium rare the burger was well done, hinting even more that this burger was not originally meant for us. To make matters worse, the burger was nothing close to a half pound and while it might have had some sliver of cheese in the middle, I wouldn’t go so far as to use the word “stuffed” (worse still, it was ordered with extra tomato and came with only one slice). Having already offered to not charge us for the steak quesadilla, it seemed worthless to push the burger issue any further. The entire meal (less one quesadilla) cost 25 dollars.
Gourmet Burger is a great idea on paper but failed to deliver in every way. The food was poor all around, came out in random intervals, was both undercooked and overcooked and overall did not live up to expectations. The service was no better and our waitress seemed to care very little for us, despite something constantly going wrong. While I would normally give a restaurant a second chance to prove itself, there was so much wrong with this particular visit that I don’t imagine a return trip doing much good.
I really wanted to love Gourmet Burger but it failed to impress in every way imaginable.