Monday, March 4, 2013

Stage Burger Lounge Food Review

Stage Burger and Onion Rings

Stage Burger Lounge Goes Hybrid, Fails

According to the Internet, the Stage Burger Lounge in Silver Spring, Maryland doesn't exist anymore. It's still open for business at 8624 Colesville Road, but its online presence (Facebook, Twitter, website) is nada. Gone also is the charm and quality formerly associated with the quirky burger joint... inexplicably replaced with table service and a fine dining concept, dressed in tattered clothing.

Stage Burger is barely a year old, but I'm almost certain it's under its third owner. I can't say for sure, because there's an air of mystery over this place that goes back to last year, when the original owners said bye-bye, and the casual restaurant began its odd transformation into what it is today.

What that is, is anyone's guess. Tonight was the fifth time I've been here, and only once before has anyone else (besides my guest) been dining in at the same time. The biggest change is you now have to order your food with a server (which adds a $5 tip to what used to be a small bill.) What's wrong with picking up your food at the counter? There's also a long (empty) bar that makes no sense whatsoever. Who goes to a burger joint to drink liquor? The decor remains the same, including the cheap-looking LP wall display and some of the dirtiest booths in Maryland. The moment I sat down, I made the mistake of touching the table and "picked up" something extra sticky. Yuck.

I recognized my server from last year, when she was behind the counter. She's still nice and handed me a menu (a cheap vinyl cover with four printed-out pages.) Talk about chic! Here's a tip: Put everything on one page, laminate it and be done with it. I had a movie screening to go to, so I asked for my order to be served all at once (fries and onion rings are considered appetizers.) The price is still right: A Stage Burger runs $6.75, small fries with Old Bay $2.50 and a small onion rings $3.75. I got my order relatively quickly (I sure hope so: I was their only customer.)

Small Fries (strange plate)

The onion rings were straight out of the bag, frozen. They were cooked nicely, but I could do the same with a bag of Ore Ida and a toaster oven. How hard is it to slice an onion, dip the slices in batter and fry them? The fries weren't frozen, but they were horrible. Slimy, overcooked and few in number, they might qualify as the worst fries in the state. My server brought me a small container of aioli, which made the half-dozen or so I ate edible (I left the rest.) P.S. I only got one paper napkin, and there were no ketchup or mustard bottles on the table.

Thankfully my burger appeared to be cooked fresh with familiar seasonings that won me over during prior visits. It was also properly cooked (medium, as requested) and juicy. My bun looked healthy and was thankfully grilled. B+ for burger presentation.

There's no way this place stays open for more than a couple of months... The changes made, only hurt the restaurant. My advice? Ditch the LPs on the wall, lose the table service, play music and put some much needed light in the front dining area and more importantly the windows. If folks don't come in for really good burgers and fresh fries and onion rings, then it's just not meant to be.

Atmosphere: D (Service is pretty good, but the restaurant's hybrid look is an epic failure.)
Fries: F (They should be ashamed to sell them.)
Onion Rings: D (Make 'em fresh... It's easy.)
Burger: B (Their burgers are still good, and worth building a menu around.)
Service: B- (Friendly and quick, but no excuse for missing condiments, flatware and napkins.)
Overall: D (The burgers are good, but this restaurant is dying a slow, painful death. Filthy tables are inexcusable.)