The idea of a cheeseburger makes most carnivores crave the juicy sandwich. However, not all burgers are created equal. The bun, toppings, ground beef, types of cheeses and seasonings can be the difference between a mushy, flavorless bun and thin bland meat patty or a bun with structure, some sesame seeds and a well-seasoned, juicy beef burger. The toppings and cheeses are a matter of personal preference, but freshness, balance and generous servings can improve the burger tenfold.
Christy's Hamburgers: 14560 Manchester Rd., Ballwin
The bright red walls, florescent lights and almost too eager counter girls were a little overbearing. Walking toward the counter, a feeling of trepidation seeped in. Dare I say it? An overwhelming odor of spoiled raw beef filled the restaurant. I ordered my burger. In return, I got a small plastic foam cup to fill up my drink ($1.79), which was reminiscent of the little cups at doctor's offices for water. The burger itself was bland and dry, the bun like pasty Wonder Bread. The burger might have been dry because the fat-to-meat ratio was low, or the burger was overcooked. There was not a grain of salt on my dish. I made my way over to the "salad bar" to top my burger, and this was the one bright spot in my meal. I love lots and lots of tomatoes, and even when I ask for extra it never seems to be enough. The fries were unseasoned, not mushy (not crispy, either) and bland, like the rest of the dish.
The good: I liked being able to pick my own toppings, which were fresh and kept at the proper temperature at the salad bar.
The bad: The burger was dry, bland and apparently allergic to salt and pepper. The bun tasted like cardboard.
: 1070 Town and Country Crossing Dr., Town and Country
The atmosphere in Five Guys is relaxed; grab some free peanuts and wait for your turn to order. Cooks make burgers to your liking—tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mayo, pickles etc. The great thing about the choices is that you can also order grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms as well as extra cheese, making for a better burger without additional cost. Additionally, two meat patties make for quite a filling meal. The sesame seed buns were fresh (albeit a little mushy), the meat was very juicy and reasonably seasoned, and so were the toppings. Crispy fries are served with or without Cajun seasoning and fill the to-go bags to the rim.
The good: The burger is large and flavorful along, and there's a variety of toppings.
The bad: The bun was slightly mushy, and the huge burger was a little messy. (But is that really a bad thing, since it was the overflow of ingredients?)
: 17308 Chesterfield Airport Rd., Chesterfield
This colorful restaurant is lively and busy with balloons, music and robin (the little red bird) décor. The waitress was attentive and friendly. Although there are a variety of burgers to choose from, like the Pub Burger, Bonzai Burger and Guacamole Burger, I stuck to my regular cheeseburger. The bun was fresh, flavorful and topped with little sesame seeds. The Swiss cheese was nutty and earthy and stood alone in the burger. The meat was properly seasoned, and the toppings included shredded lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and a generous amount of mayonnaise. The toppings took me back to my childhood; the combination of ketchup and mayonnaise with all of the toppings was reminiscent of a burger I ate as a child with a hint of Thousand Island dressing flavor. The bottomless fries were fresh and hot, but could have been slightly more crispy. But overall, a great burger.
The good: The burger and toppings were well seasoned and properly balanced. A great, fresh, delicious burger.
The bad: The fries were not crispy enough, and the price was a little steep, if you are in it just for a burger.
The winner: I had a difficult time choosing between Five Guys and Red Robin. Ultimately, I thought about which burger I would go back for, and that was Five Guys. The other things that topped the competition were the crispy fries and lower cost of food.
Next week, we'll review lemonade. Who has the best lemonade in West County? Let us know in the comments.