Thursday, June 5, 2014

City Burger Food Review

Burger with Roof Top Fries and Vanilla Hand Spun Shake

Whether or not Bethesda needs another low-cost burger spot remains to be seen; but City Burger proves a welcome addition regardless of the competition. Located on the other (south) side of downtown, City Burger faces a challenge for foot traffic; but I've been known to walk an extra block or two for killer fries and a shake.

My first visit to City Burger got off to a great start thanks to my cashier Matilda, who was both friendly and informative (caring enough to tell me what's standard on a regular hamburger.) Prices are friendly too... Just $3.95 for a Hamburger, $2.95 for a generous order of Roof Top Fries (rosemary, sea salt) and a $5 shake (a tad pricey.)

Vanilla Hand Spun Shake

Beware of whiplash (the good kind) because orders comes out (blazing) fast at City Burger. Granted, there weren't a lot of customers at 2:18 in the afternoon; but quick is quick, and I like it. The dining area is relatively small with an old wood decor; but has two extra tables outside on the sidewalk. My table was comfortable enough; although there was a coat of dust over the napkin holder (probably because I was so close to the front door, which was open.) I had plenty of room to sit; but I have to admit... the music (a mix of techno and Cher) was a little loud for my taste. I get the impression they're aiming for a younger crowd.

Food quality had its ups and downs. The fries were sensational... the perfect balance of rosemary & saltiness. They were nice & crispy, and not at all greasy. Even better, when you consider they cost less than three bucks. On the other hand, the burger was dry and sadly forgettable. The bun was nice, and grilled on both sides; but the burger patty itself was quite small and overcooked. To be frank, I thought it was overpriced at $3.95 (add another patty, and the price jumps to $6.50.) Fresh toppings, but light on overall flavor. Hopefully, it was a random miss: I'll be sure to return for a double patty, and report back later.

The shake was thick, and had a strong vanilla taste. Not very creamy, nor overly sweet... I actually dug it more with each ensuing sip. That said, I regret not forking over an extra $.89 for their "High Rise" speciality shake (vanilla custard, Heath bar crunch, salted caramel & brownie.) All shakes are hand spun. They also serve house churned custard on a sugar cone ($2.75) or a waffle cone ($3.25.) Last but not least, City Burger also sells grilled cheese sandwiches ($3.25) and three different kinds of hot dogs (surprisingly pricey at $5.75-$5.95.)

Overall, it was a good start with room for improvement (no good-bye when I left... something you notice in a small area.) City Burger seems to be a little late to the "Bethesda burger party," without bringing anything all that new to the table. That's a big risk with so many other burger options nearby. That said, they have Wisconsin Avenue all to themselves, and if they "catch on," City Burger could make a big splash. I'm anxious to return: A better burger, similar fries and a speciality shake could have me singing a brand new (award-winning) tune.

Atmosphere: C+ (Not terribly fond of the location, and music was too loud.)
Burger: C (Go for two patties, and watch for overcooking.)
Fries: B+ (Best part of my meal. Really, really good.)
Shake: B (Got better with each sip.)
Service: B (Fast and friendly, but no "good-bye" hurts in close quarters.)
Overall: B- (I have a feeling my next visit will be a lot better. If it is, watch out Bethesda.)