It's about three hours into a four-hour road trip, so I'm finally hitting the home stretch, but I can't wait another hour to get home and eat. So I pull off the Florida Turnpike into the Lake Worth Rest Stop (mile marker 94 for those deranged enough to follow along my gastro-journeys) and see a couple of the coolest names I've ever seen at a rest stop. Gone are the Sbarros and Burger Kings I'm used to seeing in rest areas. They've been replaced by the likes of Earl of Sandwich (which claims to have the best hot sandwiches ever, by the way) and Cheeburger Cheeburger. I've never had a Cheeburger, but I've heard plenty about them. So many people who've visited the chain sing its praises and call it among the best fast-food burger you can get. I decide to give it a shot. I order the Classic 5.5-ounce burger with banana peppers (one of about 30 toppings they offer on every burger) and an order of fries.
Now, I'm keeping in mind that I'm at a rest stop along an
interstate, so this isn't exactly the greatest example of what a true
Cheeburger Cheeburger has to offer, although seeing that it's fast
food, it can't be too far off. The menu has been pared down from the
typical franchise, as there is no Pounder (20-ounce burger) on the
menu, nor is there even the Delirious (14-ounce burger). Instead, it's
the Serious (10 ounce), Semi-Serious (7 ounce), or Classic (5.5 ounce).
I notice they proudly announce they're now serving Naturewell Natural
Angus Beef: no additives, no antibiotics, no hormones, 100% Angus, 100%
American, 100% vegetarian fed, and 100% fresh, never frozen.
order takes longer than most fast-food places I'm used to (about five
minutes), but when I open the wrapper, I understand why. This
Cheeburger (which is the smallest on the menu) is more than an inch
thick. It's easy to cook a quarter-inch-thick patty in just a few
minutes, but if this thing would have come across the counter any
sooner, I'd have been concerned it was either WAY undercooked or
sitting under a heat lamp for the past couple of hours. It's served on
a warm kaiser roll, another nice touch, and the toppings are neatly
piled on the burger. It's nice to see an aesthetically pleasing burger
served at a fast-food joint.
It's even nicer to be surprised by
the quality of a rest-stop fast-food burger. Although the burger is
clearly well done, it's so juicy that it drips onto the wrapper, and it
has that "backyard burger" taste. It's not that it tastes like charcoal
or gas; it just doesn't taste nearly as processed and preserved as most
other fast-food burgers. That's as much a compliment as it is a
detriment, though, as the beef could have certainly used more
seasoning. The cheese and banana peppers mostly covered for the lack of
proper seasoning, but it could be a problem for those people who don't
cover their burgers in vinegary peppers and melted Swiss cheese. To go
along with the burger, an enormous basket of thick-cut French fries
cooked perfectly (not too soggy, not too crunchy) in peanut oil.
There's not much to say about those except all French fries should be
cooked in peanut oil.
I left the rest stop shocked at the
quality of the burger I'd just devoured. Although I wouldn't put it up
there with Five Guys, it's a clear shot above the Burger Kings and
McDonalds of the world, and I'd wager most people would prefer it to