Sunday, April 5, 2009

BurgerFest-O-Rama #7 - Fiddleheads (the sad edition)

As I previously mentioned, my sister, husband and nephew made their way from Rochester, Minnesota to Royal Oak, MI for a very enjoyable family weekend together. They rolled into Michigan very early Friday morning, and one of my primary goals of their visit was to make sure that my sister and brother-in-law participated in my ongoing period of burger appreciation. After much discussion and thought to identify the best place to go (mostly didn't want to stray too far from home), we settled on a restaurant in Royal Oak called Fiddleheads. As with several of the restaurants on the list, I have long wanted to eat at Fiddleheads because anything I ever read about the place was quite positive. The one point of concern was that I knew the food was a little bit expensive, and because of this, the burger was categorized as another "Best High End Burger" (the second fancy pants burger I've eaten after the Town Tavern). To make things just a little bit more complicated, the burger isn't even technically on the dinner menu (the time at which we would be eating), so Steve took the time to call to make sure the burger was offered at dinner. The person he talked to seemed genuinely surprised that such a question was even on the table and enthusiastically responded that the burger was absolutely available for dinner. Success! We picked a place that met all the criteria.

And then the sadness fell.

Before we left for dinner, I fired up and read the headline "Royal Oak Fiddleheads eatery to close tomorrow". I've joked before that maybe one or two places would go out of business thereby reducing the number of restaurants at which I must eat burgers, but this is the very first time that this issue confronted me square in the face - another unfortunate victim of our challenging economic circumstances. We had a pow-wow and decided that either way the restaurant was going to close, so we might as well contribute our dollars to the outgoing staff and owners instead of steering clear. So Friday night Steve, Gail, Jeff, Maureen, and I hit the road to celebrate and mourn the five year life of Fiddleheads, located on 13 Mile Rd. just a bit east of Greenfield.

Fiddleheads more or less stands alone in a sea of condos on 13 Mile down the road from Beaumont Hospital. I fear that some people would not have anticipated fine dining in this unique location. The inside of the restaurant had a bunch of hanging light bulbs, the tables were covered in tablecloths, and the servers were dressed like those in an upscale casual establishment. The newspaper article indicated that the staff was aware of the situation, but they did not do anything sad or negative to indicate the unfortunate plight. I was more sad than most of the group, largely because it forced me to again reflect on our collective dream for better times and prosperity. Most of the items on the menu were in the $18-$30 range, so it definitely isn't (wasn't...sniff) a cheap night out.

As expected, the burger was not on the menu, but all of us knew that we wanted to order a burger. Jeff, Steve, and Maureen each took one for the team by ordering the Salmon, soup, and a salad (respectively), so that we were not a table of 5 people ordering the cheapest thing available that wasn't even on the menu. This is one of the occasional complications of BurgerFest-O-Rama. It's somewhat odd for a whole table to order a burger when there are so many other delicious-seeming things available on the menu. We placed our orders, and after a slightly longer than expected break, the food hit the table. Unfortunately in my hunger and sadness, I forgot to take my normal picture of the whole table filled with food. Here was the only morsel left on Maureen's plate as we neared the end of dinner.

The burgers came out looking exactly as I hoped. There was probably around 8 oz. of meat, stacked high on a bun that barely contained the burger. Standard condiments included tomato (two slices sliced to my ideal thickness), one small piece of romaine, red onions, and mayonnaise. There was even one tiny ring of onion actually baked into the top portion of the bun, which I thought was quite a nice touch. The burgers also came standard with cheese (pretty sure it was cheddar) melted very nicely over the meat, and the plate was filled out nicely with shoestring-fried potatoes. I thought the meal was delicious.

Pros: Of all the burgers so far, the meat had the most flavor (maybe just my optimal amount of salt), despite small bun, burger had stellar structure, I could actually taste the cheese (something I've been losing in recent burgers), shoestring-fried potatoes were in keeping with the more classy overall theme of the restaurant and also nicely salted, $9 with fries is a good deal for a "high end burger", wait staff very professional, the bun played a great supporting role in that it had its own distinct but not-overpowering flavor.

Cons: We all asked for medium and somehow some parts of the burgers were a bit less than medium, too much mayonnaise, the high surface area of the fries caused them to loose their heat almost instantly, too small piece of romaine, burger could have used more general warmth, no salt shaker on the table.

Overall, the flavor experience was probably the best I have had in this entire endeavor. My flavor memory can still taste the burger two days later, and there was a pretty strong consensus of deliciousness around the table. If the burgers were cooked more to our exact desires and contained more excited atoms and molecules (i.e. heat), I would proudly declare this burger my first FOUR HAMBURGLAR burger. In a normal world where the restaurant wasn't already closed (as of this writing), the official ruling would be three hamburglars, but in memory and honor of the fine establishment and its staff, I am going to award three hamburglars plus one sadness hamburglar.

Fiddleheads, I apologize for never eating within your walls before Friday night and I am sad that I will never again get to eat there. Now that I know what I was missing, I probably would have had more than a few burgers in your restaurant. You will be missed.


Dan Anderson said...


Tank said...

now the sadness hamburglar will skew the overall ratings!

Ken said...

A valid concern, but two counter-arguments.

Uno - With the closing of the restaurant, it is not possible for the rankings to affect anyone's eating decisions

Dos - I was inches from giving it a pure 4, but Steve disagreed with that final rating. Taking into account dueling opinions, it seemed fair to me to give them a three, and then to give them the parting bump up to 4.

It's just too bad that any sadness hamburglars had to be included at all.

AlexJD said...

Where can we get one of those tshirts?

Ken said...

Alas, they are extremely limited edition. Maureen had 7 of those made for me as a Christmas gift for family and me. Maybe one day there will be enough reason/support to push out a fresh batch? A boy can dream.