Includes Chuck’s, Raleigh, NC
I try not to eat according to food trends, really I do. But I already loved cupcakes long before that craze hit, and pie too, so when dedicated eateries opened how could I not partake?
Now in-house-ground, upscale burgers are a big trend. And I caved in and went to downtown Raleigh’s Chuck’s last night. Pride be damned, I’m glad I did!
You might have heard me proclaim in earlier posts that the hype about local chef Ashley Christensen exceeds the output when it comes to Poole’s diner. But I love, love, love Chuck’s.
The setting is minimalist but not stark. Exposed brick, cow heads (not taxidermy) hung high around the walls and a red, black and white color scheme.
The menu is equally simple: burgers, fries, one salad and drinks. Our burgers were served on round tin trays topped with brown paper.
Great news: You can order any of their burger varieties with a house-made veggie patty. The texture of mine was excellent — thin crispy exterior with a softer, delicious interior. Not crumbly. Not too dense. I just saw on the restaurant’s Facebook page that it’s made with ingredients like egg, lentils, sweet potato, farro, fried onion, porcini and kale. No wonder it’s so tasty.
I ordered it with the Spirit Animal treatment: cream cheese, roasted poblanos, grilled tomatoes and tortilla dust. It was pretty fabulous — a bit smokey, a tad spicy, great but not too over-the-top Southwest flavor. (Sorry re: the photo. Lighting was a little dim, again.)
My dining companion ordered the meat (100% ground chuck) Dirty South, and I tried a bite. Familiar flavors with a more powerful punch than the average chili cheesburger. Toppings included smoked pork and red pea chili, tobacco onions, roasted tomato slaw and mustard.
I’d heard a couple of complaints from friends when they went to Chuck’s earlier, but they’ve been taken care of:
Order-at-the-counter process didn’t match the kinda high prices — check. Table service.
Couldn’t choose how you wanted your burger cooked — check. The server now tells you it will be cooked medium unless you want it otherwise.
Burgers only came in giant sizes — check. Now you can get 8 or 5 ounces.
So all in all, I rank Chuck’s veggie burger right up with with the Raleigh Times’ (Chuck’s version being more unique and the Times’ more traditional.) And the prices are certainly better than other trendy new burger joints ($11 for a veggie burger at Tribeca? I don’t think so …)
I will be back. Very soon. To try new burger toppings, but also some Belgian-style fries (multiple aioli sauces are available for dipping) and a liquor-spiked milkshake. Madagascar Malted with bourbon?! My god …