The Fat Men From Space tell me these are the last hamburger reviews they’ll be doing this year. Not because they are tired of munching local burgers but because they’ve determined that they’ve hit all the Amelia Island burger spots …… places where they might bump into Popeye’s hamburger-addicted pal Wimpy, who promises owners he’ll “gladly pay them Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
In their quest to determine the island’s best burgers the two galactic fatties have downed an amazing number of Amelia Island burgers and registered their expert opinions here. So far they’ve uncovered some very good burgers, some very bad ones, some reasonably priced ones, and one that requires installment payments.
Since the island’s reigning “Best Burger” champion — Putt Putt on Main Beach — has changed hands and no longer offers its wildly popular “Beach Bum Burger,” the race for the number one spot is wide open. In fact within the next few weeks the fat fellows and I will confer to determine the top five ranked in order, offering brief opinions here on why.
They don’t eat at chains or fast food joints and don’t review places that aren’t open for lunch. However, if you think they’ve missed one of your favorite burger emporiums tell us why and if we agree the fatties will try it.
So, here’s the fat boys latest and last samplings unless someone can convince us to try options we may have missed.
The Pub At The Ritz Carlton: This place is really more akin to a sports bar/lounge, complete with many TVs, comfy chairs and sofas and a pool table. Despite being in the Ritz, the Pub itself is fairly laid back. The menu is elevated bar food (wings, nachos, burgers, etc.) offered at Ritz prices. So the burger comes in at a whopping $16. It’s advertised as a 7 oz. Black Angus patty served with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, a house-made pickle spear and fries on a potato roll.
It’s hand-pattied and cooked to order on a grill. I ordered mine medium with none of the many optional upgrades (Béarnaise sauce, pork belly, bacon jam, etc.). While I am certain these items are delicious, they simply do not belong on a proper burger.
When I received my burger, it was as impressive a presentation as I could have imagined coming from the kitchens of the Ritz. The condiments (mayo, mustard and ketchup) are delivered in individual, mini-jars of Heinz labeled products. A nice touch, for sure. The tomato was perfectly ripe, the red onion slice was fresh and the lettuce was a fancy mélange of mixed baby greens. I dressed my burger with a healthy slather of mayo, a little mustard and some ketchup. I was giddy with anticipation as I stuffed the first bite into my pie hole. It was delicious. Perfectly grilled to a juicy medium. The fries were crispy and hot. And the house made pickle was a wonderful accompaniment to cut through all of the fatty, unctuousness of the burger. There really is very little to criticize about this burger. But I offer the following. The price. After tax, a drink and tip, and gratuity for valet parking you’re in the neighborhood of $30. That’s prohibitive pricing for many folks. And price is a factor is the Fat Men’s analysis. Also, the use of mixed baby greens as lettuce seems weirdly unnecessary. Finally, the bun was described as a potato roll. My bun was quite firm. More like a brioche roll. A minor point, but I don’t have anything else to pick at. All in all, a very good and very expensive burger. In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, If you have the means, I highly recommend it.
Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro: Here’s a question for you mere mortals…what’s better than brisket BBQ? A delicious cheeseburger might give it a run for the money. Now imagine a place where the two are combined. Good Grief!!
For $13 you can enjoy this lunchtime-only brisket cheddar and BBQ burger at our local downtown eatery, Joes 2nd St. Bistro. This really shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s enjoyed a wet-aged steak expertly prepared by a local gent and owner named Ricky Pigg, who handles the kitchen while his wife, Mari, runs the front end. Speaking of pigging out with the Piggs, did I mention the half pound brisket burger, which seems much larger, also came with strips of bacon? Take ’em off if you’re a traditionalist but Egads, it was good! Having spent time all over this ever expanding universe, I know a fine burger, particularly when it drips down my fat forearm, all over this fancy establishment’s white linen table cloths.
Bistro is simply a elegant name for tavern, and according to my cosmic rules of the road, it shouldn’t shock anyone this place has a rocking great burger, full bar, bacon, brisket on a Brioche bun, it simply hits all the marks. By the way, the BBQ sauce and the Ketchup are made in house. Nice touch. This is so good I’ve failed to mention the white cheddar cheese that adds a whole additional dimension to the meal. And is comes with a plentiful order of cooked-just-right fries.
I shouldn’t say this because it falls outside of the burger review guidelines, but it needs saying and that’s the Pigg’s Seafood Bouillabaisse, is as good, if not better than what those skinny fancy pants French folks make in Marseilles.
I could go on and on about the burger, but frankly I can’t keep my eyes open after downing this gastronomically good Goliath.
The Galley: Located at the foot of the Shave Bridge in the Amelia Island Yacht Basin, the Galley Bar and Grill offers typical bar food with spectacular views of the marina and Amelia River. There is both indoor seating and a nice deck overlooking the docks. The atmosphere is casual and welcoming. The Galley offers a half pound Angus burger cooked to order, served with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and your choice of cheese (pepper jack pictured here) for $10.00, which includes a side. I went with the fries to be consistent with prior reviews. But in the interest of full disclosure, I was very tempted by the fried okra. The burger itself is hand-pattied and cooked on a flat-top grill. I ordered mine medium. When it arrived, I noticed it was resting on a toasted Kaiser roll (second only to the potato roll in the hierarchy of buns). The bun-to-burger ratio was perfect. The meat was nicely seared. Following assembly, I dove right in. The bun was soft, the veggies fresh and the burger tasty. However, it was slightly overcooked. More like a medium well. This happens often in many places, so I usually order medium rare. But for purposes of this review, I wanted to order straight-up to get a true measure of their burger prowess. In any event, the burger was still juicy and flavorful. The fries were perfectly seasoned and crispy. All in all, a proper burger in a friendly place with a terrific view. I can certainly recommend The Galley to friends without fear of embarrassment. As an aside, I happen to know they, also, have excellent wings and amazing fried grouper cheeks (not specified on the menu, so ask for them).
Cafe Karibo & Karibrew: You know what’s fun? Space travel is fun! Returning to the Home Port for a few days and enjoying a great burger (or TWO) with some cold beers is also great fun, and a lot less knobs and switches to make it happen, too. I had a fantastic cheeseburger from Café Karibo recently. At just $10.99 for a half-pounder plus an extra buck for some additional Pepper Jack, well, take it from me, money well spent! What’s more, it came with a mix of regular fries and sweet potato fries…fun times two!
As I plowed through the meal like a front-end loader on nearby Yulee’s endless eight lane monstrosity roadway project , I couldn’t help but wonder if the owner had some deep seated fascination with large antelope. Stay with me here, folks. The burger joint is called Café Karibo, the bar area is now minus the large stainless vats to make way for great new craft beer taps, is called Café Karibrew. On a recent visit to the frozen north, I came across a herd of Caribou, sort of a moose except sportier. Anyway, I couldn’t help but wonder if the owner, formerly a member of the City Council, was engaged in clever word play with the name of his restaurant. In any case, I was relieved he didn’t have the same weird word fun with the Angus beef that the delicious burger was made of. And I discovered later that Karibo is actually the maiden name of the lovely Mrs. Poynter, who also serves her grand pappy’s Cincinnati chili.
In any case, if you’re downtown, and hungry, bring your herd to Café Karibo and enjoy some great cheeseburgers. You can thank me later.
The Tavern: As both a traveler and a bit of an expert about eating, cheeseburgers in particular, I’ve learned a few things. Rules of the cosmic road, if you will. For example, a place with a full bar, has better burgers than a joint that serves just beer and wine. Here’s another, taverns have better burgers than diners. Take it to the bank. Amelia Tavern on Centre St. is one such place.
For $10.99 you get a “half pounder” with the usual trimmings, including a particularly tasty Brioche bun. The burger is also a mix of various cuts including short rib (culinary genius). Since the Tavern features bacon on their menu as an appetizer, why not toss a few strips on-board for “style points”? Add some pepper Jack, and we’re off to the space races!
Crispy French fries (some were sweet potato fries mixed in) help soak up all the greasy, salty goodness that this cheeseburger provided. It was a greasy treat and worth every dime. Served medium to medium rare (just a blush of pinkness in the center) is the way to go. When I was finished, I actually considered licking the plate, it was that satisfying.
If you have some time and are lucky enough to get a parking space within 6 blocks of the Amelia Tavern, do it and order up an Amelia Tavern Burger. You can thank me later.
A Session In Semantics: The media refer to Stormy Daniels as an “adult movie actress.” Her lawyer told the Today Show’s Megyn Kelly that Ms. Daniels is a “principled woman.” And Ms. Daniels said that as a result of all this publicity about allegedly having consensual sex with then businessman Donald Trump, she is worried about what her young daughter might think.
From what I’ve read about Ms. Daniels she’s paid to be filmed having sex with strangers and people pay to watch the films. I’m not sure where the term “actress” applies here. A woman being paid to have sex is traditionally called a prostitute, or worse, a whore. And one that allows those sex acts to be broadcast to whoever wants to pay to see them may not exactly be a “principled woman.” Possibly Ms. Daniels should have rethought her line of work if she is so concerned about what her daughter thinks.
Things I Wish I’d Said: “I told myself I should stop drinking, but I’m not going to listen to a drunk who talks to himself.” — Recent Facebook posting by friend Pajamadave Voorhees.
Speaking Of Facebook: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony has me confused.
Facebook is free and people voluntarily use it to share all sorts of personal information. Mark Zuckerberg has provided a glass house to store it in. He never asks for credit card information, social security numbers, bank account information, etc. And he doesn’t sell the information. So if people are dim enough to provide all this information, what’s the beef? How can Congress blame Zuckerberg for the stupidity of their constituents.
Studies also indicate that Facebook is addictive and that that it is making many users miserable and helpless to shake the habit. The more time spent on Facebook, the less happy folks become say these studies. Yet users can’t sign up “friends” fast enough to share their most intimate feelings or pictures of their lunch, then obsessively tap away to see how many “likes” they got or to rant over a snarky comment.
The only thing I learned during Mr. Zuckerberg’s recent Congressional testimony was how out of touch and technologically ignorant our elected senators and house representatives are. No wonder Donald Trump is driving them nuts with his constant Tweets, that to them is a phenomenon they obviously don’t comprehend or understand.
The closest thing we had to Facebook when I was a kid was a telephone party line. When I picked up the phone and started dialing and a neighbor was on their phone, I was quickly “unfriended” in some not so polite terms. The telephone company sent my mom a monthly bill, charging for local service, long distance calls and taxes. If the phone didn’t work we’d go to a neighbors to call the phone company, who would eventually send a guy around to fix the phone or or replace it.
Our phone always worked and I can only recall once when it was busted, and that’s because I dropped it on the floor and shattered some of its delicate bits and pieces, thus cutting me off from the outside world that wasn’t within biking or walking distance. The only place we could get a phone was from the phone company and it didn’t have a retail store, it was delivery only.
But getting back to Mr. Zuckerberg, I find it odd that while he was being grilled and admonished on Capitol Hill about safeguarding Facebook users’ information, the FBI was breaking into the President’s attorney’s office and home, removing all his private information apparently violating attorney-client privilege. Maybe the investigators need some investigating.
Help Wanted Department: It’s getting hard to find good help says the Georgia Public Policy Foundation citing The Wall Street Journal. It quoted Chief Economist William Dunkelberg of the National Federation of Independent Business as saying small-business owners are struggling: “Thirty-five percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up one point and tied with July and October 2017 for the highest reading since November 2000.” As I look around the island I see evidence of that with an abundance of signs in restaurants, bars and shops broadcasting: “Help Wanted” and “Applications Being Accepted.”
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: The public is invited to VFW Post 4351, under Shave Bridge at 96086 Wade Place, where it will be hosting a prime rib dinner tomorrow, Saturday, April 14th beginning at 5:30 pm for a $15 donation. Dinner includes prime rib, mashed potatoes, asparagus and a drink. Funds go to the veterans and the community. Live music follows the dinner. The Wine Shop, 4924 First Coast Highway, will celebrate its Spring Wine Festival tomorrow (Saturday, April 14) 1-4 p.m. with more than 60 different wines from around the world and hors D’oeuvres from Bar Zin. Folks can purchase tickets online for $30 at EventBright.com prior to the event or at the wine shop for $35 the day of the event. Ground was finally broken this week for the new Salt Life restaurant and bar scheduled to be built across from Putt Putt on Main Beach. There are no more burgers or hot dogs at Putt Putt, just ice cream, under the new owners.