Monday, January 24, 2011

Charley's, Newton

There is just something about the very idea of a lovely hamburger that gets my heart pumping.  Picturing a thick mound of ground beef, artfully spiced with seasonings to enhance the true flavor of the beef, but not overshadow it, grilled til the inside is a perfect pink may be one of my "perfect foods". I like then when they are grilled using gas or good old fashioned charcoal and they get all smokey, and I like when they are griddled on a flat top and a beautiful crust forms over the meat.  I like them with cheese, without cheese, with lots of toppings, and simply with just some lettuce, onion and tomato.  Honestly-I can't think of a burger I don't like.  So, on Saturday, when the mood struck for a burger, I jumped right on board.  As we were running some errands in the Chestnut Hill mall around dinner time, Charley's seemed like just as good a place as any to grab a quick dinner, and to indulge my burger craving.

I settled, almost immediately on their Au Poivre burger, described as being topped with caramelized onions and aged cheddar cheese.  I requested that it be served medium rare.  Au Poivre, in case you are curious, refers to the practice of dipping the formed burger patty into crushed black pepper, and cooking the burger encased in the pepper.  The result is a lovely spicy flavor on the outside, and a very satisfying textural crunch with each bite. 
Our waiter returned with the food, and he requested that we each cut into our burgers to be sure that they were cooked properly.  I am actually not a fan of this practice.  I understand the logic behind it- if the dish is improperly cooked than the kitchen can replace it.  However, that can take forever, and it can just be more of a hassle to ask them to recook the entire meal. Additionally, if only one person at the table has an issue, then the entire table has to either proceed with their meal, or wait.  I think its just messy.  Finally, I am just not that picky-especially when it comes to burgers :-).  As the case may be- I cut into mine, and it was over cooked.  The beautiful bright pink I was hoping to see in the middle was faded into just a thin line of "kinda pink" and the gray surrounding it was much too thick.  No bother, I decided to "muscle through".

The burger, was actually very tasty.  Served on a poppy seed bun, the bread was soft and fresh, perfect for soaking up the excess juice as it ran free.  The meat was flavorful, well complimented by the ground pepper corns, and thankfully not over salted.  The cheese was delicious- a perfect sharp contrast to the pepper and decadence of the burger, however it wasn't completely melted atop my piping hot burger.  Sadness for that, though it didn't affect the over all flavor.  Finally, the caramelized onions were just ok.  Many had not yet reached the "caramelized" stage and were left in a weird pale white, almost translucent, greasy limbo.  I missed out on the beautiful sweetness that onions turn into when left long enough, which I think would have paired perfectly with the spice of the pepper and the sharpness of the aged cheddar. Now that isn't to say that the burger as whole wasn't delicious, because it was, there were just some oddities as well.  

As for accompaniments, the burger was served with french fries (thick cut), two onion rings, and a pickle.  Thick cut french fries are not my favorite. I like a lot of crispness to my fries and these were much too soft for my taste.  The onion rings were delicious golden brown circles of deliciousness.  The pickle though- oh the pickle.  I am forever disappointed when served a poor pickle- a limp stalk, oddly tasting metallic, or some other terrible let down.  Charley's though, this was crisp and fresh tasting- almost a lovely little pallet cleanser.

Overall, I feel that the misses on my burger were probably just mistakes that I would hope wouldn't occur again, and the flavor of the burger far outweighed them.  I would definitely return to Charley's for another burger.

Out of curiosity- what is your position on the "please cut into your burger/steak to check if it's done to your liking" practice?


Daisy said...

my position on the "please cut into your burger/steak to check if it's done to your liking" practice is that its odd. I eat burgers rather frequently and no one has ever asked me to do this!

Megan said...

I'm with Daisy. I've never heard of that either. But if my burger is overdone, I will send it back. I'm not spending my money on hockey pucks. :)

kitchenmisfit said...

As long as my burger hasn't reached hockey puck stage, I usually won't return it.


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