Friday, March 13, 2009

BurgerFest-O-Rama #6 - Town Tavern

So the journey continues, but I really need to pick up my game. If not for any other reason, it is increasingly difficult to remember the highs and the lows of the burger experience as the time from my enjoyment of the experience increases. I guess if I forget stuff, I can just make things up because you'll never know - which is why today I'll be writing about the world's first self-levitating restaurant that also cures cancer in downtown Royal Oak, Town Tavern. A few weeks ago on a Friday much like today, my brother and I headed to downtown Royal Oak for lunch together. Unfortunately, this will also be my first review that doesn't include firsthand pictures of the establishment and food. I took the digital camera, but unfortunately the batteries were as dead as batteries can be. How is it possible that camera batteries are so consistently out of commission? That was a frustrating start to the burger lunch, but I will make it back there and take a few personal pictures to add to the website and my archives. Here is a boring stock photo of the outside sign, as well as a picture of what it would look like if it had been taken with my brilliant sense of photography. I did live with a photography student two years while in college, you know.

The Town Tavern is part of a small family of successful and very well-liked restaurants in the northern suburbs, including the Beverly Hills Grill and Streetside Seafood. The management team has identified a method of making their menus seem both somewhat classy and within financial reach for a night out. They don't produce the once-a-year or the once-a-week kinds of restaurants, but maybe more like the once every few months. They feel like upscale but accessible establishments and attract a slightly wealthier clientele. Another not very useful and far too thin picture of the interior:

Those frames you see on the wall in this very thin picture are mostly filled with old-school Michigan and Royal Oak photographs. I like that quite a bit, and you will always win bonus points with me by reminding me of my Michigan heritage. The service is typically attentive and crisp, and they normally serve complimentary bread to the tables. For some reason Steve and I were not given complimentary bread, which made me sad because it tastes like exceptional crazy bread. Sometimes restaurants have rules regarding what necessitates free bread (like a particular type of entree being ordered), but these rules, if they exist, were unclear and thus frustrating. I was in the mood for some crazy bread.

For the burger on the lunch menu, it quite simply stated "Tavern Cheeseburger* Bleu, Cheddar, Jack or Swiss", at a cost of 10 units. They don't include the type of unit on the menu, so when I tried to pay them in Legos, they were super pissed. Steve and I both ordered our burgers medium, not exactly knowing if fries were included or what types of condiments or toppings came on the burger aside from the cheese. The burgers came out a little slow, but when they came out, we were starving and ready to dig in. Here's a picture of Steve waiting for lunch. Hungry!!!

When the burgers arrived, they were almost completely disassembled to display the pretty and fresh lettuce and tomato. I typically prefer to have my food pre-assembled, so when I pulled my burger open to add the toppings and some condiments, I was confronted with the weird situation that the cheese was 100% stuck to the top bun. I'm not sure how this happened, but I find I greatly prefer the cheese sticking to the meat. There is some mystical chemical reaction that takes place when the cheese is attached to the meat that makes them both taste better, so the cheese sticking to the wrong component was not preferred. Some quick hits -

Pros: Half pound of meat, very fresh seeming condiments, running-down-the-hand-juicy, fries included in total price, very good fries, we both felt very filled after finishing our lunches, pleasant ambiance making you feel like you have money even if you don't, Michigan paraphernalia always a plus, food looked picturesque (see above photo)

Cons: 10 units is very expensive for a burger and the dinner burger is 11 units, tomato was cut very think and overpowered the rest of the burger, cheese stuck in wrong place weirdness, while fries were good, they were relatively sparse on the plate, inexplicably no crazy bread included, having to assemble the burger myself led to very messy and non-cohesive dining experience (I think I went to knife and fork at some point which is close to a sin)

We enjoyed the Town Tavern experience and I feel great warmth for any restaurant group that has tentacles around Michigan and constantly works to raise the quality of eating options in the area. However, at 10 units for lunch, I have had (only when including BurgerFest-O-Rama) better and far less expensive options. I've had other foodstuffs from the Town Tavern that I thought were worth every penny, but if you know you're in the mood for a burger, I would probably recommend you consider another option.
Is it ironic that I grew up Catholic and posted about burgers on a Friday during lent? As your mostly true fact of the day, this "no meat on Fridays" thing was invented to prop up the fishing industry in the land of Jesus. Go forth and eat meat.


Daniel J. said...

Great call on the Lent conspiracy. I was entirely expecting an exceptional review by how urgent the matter seems especially with your facebook post. But I admire your honesty and would have liked to hear your favorite place for a burger since it wasn't Town Tavern. Mine is still undoubtedly Red Coat Tavern. Oh and what do you think about L.E.S.S.G.U.M.E.S.? Too much, right?

Dan Anderson said...

Good to know. Think I'm gonna try Sandy's next.