Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Two New “Fat Men From Space” Blast Off Searching For Amelia Island’s Best Burger

Despite the fact that the only benefits to be had are weight gain, high cholesterol, cases of indigestion, and a lighter wallet, a number of folks applied for this blog’s position of “Fat Man From Space”, the island hamburger connoisseur, whose job is to sample as many hamburgers as possible in local island eateries from the north side’s Main Beach Putt Putt to the south side’s fancy-schamcy Ritz Carlton, then report their findings back here.

The selection was a difficult one, coming down to two hamburger aficionados so qualified it was challenging to make a choice, so I didn’t — they both got the job.

So we have two Fat Men From Space who will beam themselves down for the next several months to every greasy spoon and hoity-toity island eatery that serves burgers and report back periodically through this blog. My only job here is to wipe the grease, ketchup and mustard from their reviews and post them here so loyal readers can check the joints out and judge for themselves if the two Fat Men are making the right calls. We’ll be looking for the top five burger joints and may expand that to a top 10 depending on how well the Fat Men hold up.

Who are these two? I can’t say as their identities might influence burger cooks to provide incentives to influence their reviews. In the past I didn’t think this blog carried any weight in the restaurant arena until a couple of BBQ joint owners told me they sold out early because of positive mentions here, a bigger surprise to me than them.

The original Fat Man, now retired to Burger Raton, left the area with the following as the top five: 1-Putt Putt at Main Beach; 2- T-Rays; 3- Salty Pelican; 4- Leddy’s Porch at the Florida House; 5- A tie with Halftime Sports Bar & Grill & Karibo.

Here’s some background information about our search that may be helpful to novices out there in their individual quests for the best burger.

First of all, price matters.. .a lot. A Wall Street Journal article last month by Julie Jargon pointed out that the average price nationwide for a burger sold at restaurants is nearly 400 percent higher than the cost of its ingredients, the cost to the restaurant being $1.86 and the average retail price coming in at $9.00. And all of the priced ingredients include tomatoes, onion, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, mustard and, of course, the beef, she says.

There are restaurants on the island peddling burgers in the $15.00 and higher range that offer one side. I’m predicting that those prices will soon tumble or more sides will be added as price conscious patrons skip that item for more reasonably priced fare or skip the restaurant altogether for reasonably priced burgers elsewhere. I’m not suggesting that the sit-down joints try to compete with the “they-all-taste-alike” burgers churned out at bland fast food assembly lines like McDonalds, Burger King, etc. but that they should take a lesson from Putt Putt, which uses fresh, and not frozen angus beef, and offers what the now retired Fat Man says is the best burger on the island to date for just $6.75 including tax. The Fat Man’s best-ever burger is 25 cents cheaper than one island restaurant’s $7.00 kid’s menu burger, tax not included.

And if you don’t understand that mushrooms, eggs, avocados, truffled arugula, garlic aioli, or any other such alien material does not belong on hamburgers…ever, then you do not understand hamburgers.

If you have a favorite burger place that you think needs to be checked out let me know and I’ll pass it on to the fat guys for consideration.

So, with all that in mind it’s time for the new Fat Men to strap on their bibs and let the burger battles begin.

(Editor’s note: “Fat Men From Space” is a children’s book by Daniel Pinkwater about a group of aliens who attack Earth and eat up the planet’s supply of junk food, leaving only healthy stuff behind, a book introduced to me by the first FMFS burger taster.)


The “So What’s New?” Department: With the midterm elections 16 months away you’d think that the Democrats would have developed an agenda for regaining a majority in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. But so far all it appears that they’ve been able to come up with is their tired old “We hate Trump” and “The Russians are coming!” platforms. With the president at a low in the polls, Democrats apparently assume that voters are flocking to them. But that isn’t the case says a recent Washington POST/ABC News poll that reports that 52 percent of Americans say the Democrats only agenda is its stand against Trump. All they have in their arsenal is hatred, hysteria and hyperventilating, not a particularly appealing message.

Of course Democrats don’t understand any of that any more than they understand that it would be a good idea for all immigrants to this country to assimilate and speak English, the language most widely spoken and that should be declared the official language of the country. However, for them that would be a calamity because if the voters actually understood what they were talking about, it would be all over for the Democrats.


Clean power: Nuclear energy provides abundant power, “without emitting any greenhouse gases,” writes Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation. Instead, “The radical environmentalists are insisting that the only energy alternative that will save the planet is wind and solar power – the two options guaranteed to most decelerate modern industrialization and economic progress across the globe.” Source — Georgia Public Policy Foundation.


Overheard At PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden: At our end of the bar the other day the fact that alligators are served on local menus because they are no longer an endangered species came up and my pal Jeff McDowell explained to a visiting northern tourist that alligators can also be used to make shoes and handbags. “Geez, it’s amazing what they can train alligators to do,” the impressed Yankee responded.


Just When You Think It Can’t Get Worse It Does: Until recently I had been under the impression that the Republican party was going to repeal the disastrous Obamacare (aka Affordable Car Act). No such luck, as these GOP bozos are acting just like their dim Democrat peers.

For seven years these cretins boasted that they were going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump wasn’t there when they said that but he said he would sign legislation doing away with the Obamacare mess. So what did these losers do? Nothing!

We’re doomed. Both parties are a mess and these alleged conservative politicians are as confusing, convoluted and incomprehensible as the laws they pass that are only designed to screw the American public. Donald Trump was elected to get rid of this terrible piece of legislation — among other crap — and these pompous congressional jerks are only making it worse piddling around with another bill that would have been as unpopular, costly and as stupid as Obamacare. The only difference is when it doesn’t work this time the GOP will be blamed, as it should. But don’t worry, nothing happened once again. Does the incompetent GOP leadership understand that tort reform and allowing the sale of health insurance across state lines are two obvious solutions to soaring healthcare costs. Start there people.

Now we all have insurance for sex changes, pregnancies no matter your gender, head transplants, nose picking addictions, and many more horrible aliments. You’ll pay for them even though you don’t need them. Oh, and I guess you can stay on mom and dad’s insurance until you’re eligible for social security and can apply for insurance from your death bed too. The tax payer will cover you, right boys?

You dimwits, you need to repeal this crap because you’ll find out when you’re up for re-election you won’t know what hit you. You’ll be treated like a baseball team’s players at the end of a losing season when we decide which one of you should lose your jobs. You were expected to have a winning season but it looks like you’ve ended up in the cellar again. These clowns make the 1962 New York Mets (40-120) look like World Series champs.

The GOP-controlled Congress can’t seem to pass any meaningful laws at all because the divisions in their own increasingly radicalized caucus are apparently too difficult to overcome. Whatever the explanation, thus far these GOP legislators are on track to be the least productive group since at least the Civil War says THE WEEK magazine.

While the Democrats are doing nothing but running around screaming: “The Russians  are coming! The Russians are coming!” the GOP is doing an imitation of a chaotic Marx Brothers film. They can’t even punt. You morons, it’s the free market that works, not free health care and handing out goodies to those with their hands out to pander for votes! You had a shot in the big leagues but you blew it and you’re all bush leaguers.


Things You Need To Know: It is well known now that while at the State Department former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted official government business using unsecured email servers and email accounts. Her top aides and advisors also used non-“” email accounts to conduct official business. Clinton left office in 2013.

What isn’t so well known is that the FBI used a grand jury to investigate Hillary Clinton in 2016. “Why is this information being released only now?” says Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in the July issue of Judicial Watch publication Verdict. “And it is disturbing that the State Department, Justice Department and FBI are still trying to protect Hillary Clinton. President Trump needs to clean house at all those agencies.”


“Lock ‘Em Up! Lock ‘Em Up!” The other day, while accidently listening to National Public Radio, I heard an interview that was being conducted with a woman who was talking about why prisons don’t work. She was explaining to some NPR liberal lackey — who was panting agreeably — that prisons do no good at all because prisoners are not rehabilitated.

I expected the host to at least say something like: “Come on lady, they do their job by taking the bad guys off the streets so they can’t do any more bad guy stuff such as shooting, robbing, raping, pillaging, and plundering.” Instead this doofus just grunted “uh huh.”

Now I didn’t get in on the beginning of this conversation because I was busy searching for a decent country and western FM music station, not cross over country crap, when I stumbled onto this silliness. From what I heard, this woman didn’t have a solution as to what to do with these bad people except to continue on about how prison was not good for them and how they may even come out of the slammer worse off than when they went in, and how they’ll commit more crimes, and then go back to prison again.

I don’t care. I want them off the streets, not sent to a vocational school or the local junior or community college. No thanks! Lock them up and keep them locked up because that’s how you keep people off the streets who commit crimes….by keeping them in prison. That’s how prisons work lady. Let’s see now –huuuum — the recidivism rate for killers and crooks currently behind bars is right at zero percent. Sounds about right to me.


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Our monthly BS session lunch was held yesterday (Thursday, July 20) with friends Cal Atwood and Joe Murphy at the just opened Sandbar & Kitchen and we all three came away totally satisfied with the food, service, atmosphere and décor of the new Main Beach eatery and watering hole.  Cal had the $12.00 Millionaire’s BLT with a side of fires and ordered his bacon extra crispy and that’s exactly the way he got it, along with a 16-ounce draught beer. Joe and I both had the $15.00 fish and chips and unanimously agreed that the lightly battered fish was perfectly cooked, flaky  and generous, and the hand cut fries were more than plentiful. I also like the fact that malt vinegar is a stable on the table next to the ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper. Did I mention that they have $2.00 12 ounce Rolling Rocks in a can all day, every day? And for you guys trying to impress that girl from Ipanema that makes you go “Oh” and “Ah”  for just $228.00 more you can order a bottle of Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. I didn’t notice any of them being served, but I was only there for a couple of hours.  The menu has been pared down from it’s original opening day version but there’s nothing missing that I would want except smoked mullet. In addition to pizza, ice cream, chips and sodas,  you can order a $3.00 hot dog at the snack bar window located on your right as you come in the front door. I think the owners and investors have a winner on their hands here and folks who go there expecting the old Sandy Bottoms atmosphere will be very pleasantly surprised and can enjoy the ocean view from inside and out. Call ’em at 904/310-3648.

  • Comment (18)
  • Dave, when asked many people interviewed said they preferred Affordable Care to Obamacare. A larger percentage of people now do not want Obamacare repealed. So, here’s my simplistic thought – Start calling it Affordable Care, drop the two hated names – Obama and Trump – and maybe the two sides will start working together to improve and fix something everyone agrees needs fixing. All this fighting over what comes down to a name is ridiculous!

  • In reguards to your post about Washington I will never cast a vote for a Democrat. Over the last eight years and six months traditional marriage has been destroyed, the family unit has fallen into disarray due to the constant chan of come and get it from the Democrats to the gimme-gimme crowd. I believe we have for the first time a President that lives America but the Democrats are in “PREVENT TRUMP FROM DOING ANYTHING POSITIVE FOR THE COUNTRY. ” Shummer, Pelosi, Waters, and Sanders should be committed to a nut house. And the RINO’s like Paul Ryan, McConnell, Rubio, and McCain should be ran out of town. When it comes to Congress as a whole there is not enough squash to fry up with the fatback.

  • The mess in DC is only going to get worse as the Dems are hell bent on running Trump out of town. They just cannot get over the lost election that put him in the white house.Now his own DOJ assistant Att.General has thrown him under the bus by appointing Mueller as Special Counsel who is hiring every liberal attorney he can find to investigate Trump.This will not stop until all rocks are over turned to expose any collusion with Russia.If none found they will go on to other areas till they find something to hang on Trump.Never in all my years have I seen such a travesty of political genocide that is underway now. Meanwhile,the country waits and waits for constructive legislation from Congress that makes molasses running downhill look fast.FYI,no way the burger at T Rays is top five material,the Burger fat man must have been under the influence of greasy smoke that day.

  • Dave, the Republicans lost the argument the moment they switched from “repeal” to “repeal and replace,” an implicit admission that the one thing they ought to have learned from ObamaCare—that the Feds should not have ever started mucking about in the health insurance game—went unlearned.

    We don’t need a Republican version of the thing; we need to take the thing out behind the barn and kill it with an axe.

  • Regarding the burger judging. So are the judges both going to stick with the exact same condiments on every burger at each place? It seems like that is only fair. I don’t think I have had a hamburger without cheese on it in 20 years. As you state some like ketchup, some mustard, some mayo. What about judging the the “house” burger. Maybe it should be stripped down to just burger and ketchup? I think we need some clarification on the official rules.

  • As far as healthcare goes, what I would like to see happen is for congress to make it illegal for employers to offer people health insurance. That is what has everything screwed up and why we can not have a cohesive discussion on where to go from here. It is not an employers job to provide you with healthcare. That is a left over notion from another time. Every person in this country has to start purchasing and paying for healthcare out of pocket at full cost. Once that happens I think we will be able to come together and find solutions.

  • My hat is off to Mr.Hadden with his comment in today’s blog.I too have wondered how or why the government got in the health insurance business.They are not in other except flood insurance that I am aware of.Not very often a conservative agrees with a liberal.Oh well,we have to start somewhere.

  • Burgers? My fav is the Sunburn Burger at Putt Putt. Tasty’s does a good job at a fair price, but if you like your burger rare, you might be disappointed. Although Luca’s on Centre has some great menu items (like planked salmon and roast duck) they also make a very nice Luca’s Burger when your palette craves something basic.

  • Dave – you’re right. Tort reform and selling health insurance across state lines should be top priorities. Tort reform might even be able to be enacted totally separate from healthcare legislation.

    A little-known fact is that health insurance is already being sold across state lines, but in a limited manner.

    If you are an employer with a physical presence in two or more states, you may choose a health plan for ALL of your employees from which ever state you choose. During the 18 years I have lived in Florida I have been insured by Anthem/Blue Cross of Georgia, Anthem/Blue Cross of Virginia, Blue Cross of Michigan (possibly Kansas too) and, of course, Blue Cross of Florida.

    Why not just tweak the law to allow everyone to do it?

  • Oh – and for those who believe that the government is the answer, here’s something to think about. Every now and then I receive a reimbursement check form Medicare. Prominently printed on the front of the check is the name “First Coast Service Options”. Who is FCSO? They are one of many subsidiaries of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida. (Who quietly reorganized a few years ago as a FOR PROFIT subsidiary of GuideWell Mutual Holding Co.) They operate under a contract to manage Medicare claims in a 6 or 8 state area. Although the Feds write the policy terms and ultimately “pay” my claim, why not eliminate the middle men (thousands of them) and deal with the insurance company directly?

  • The best country music station around is 98.3 HANK FM out of Midway, GA. The reception is usually pretty good, but sometimes atmospheric conditions present a problem. Their motto is “We play the legends!”, and they do. You can also get it on the internet.

  • It was interesting to read your review of Sandbar. Earlier in the week four of us went there for dinner. When we arrived we were seated inside in an area with several vacant tables. A couple who arrived just after us were seated at a neighboring table. Then we waited and waited some more. There seemed to be a lot of employees but nobody acknowledged we were there. Eventually I flagged down someone who I assumed was a manager. He went outside and sent a waitress in to assist us. My wife ordered a mojito. When it arrived it neither looked or tasted like any we have ever had and I say that not in a good way. Their second attempt was tried by another bartender. This one was the right color but still not something we would ever order again. I ordered the Cuban and it was acceptable but the beans and rice were lacking. My wife ordered the fish and chips. They over fried the fish and fries. It was not a good day for their kitchen.

    We will give them one more chance but my real concern is that if you are hiring bartenders shouldn’t they know how to mix a drink? Shouldn’t I expect to get the same drink from any bartender at any of their bars? If not, shouldn’t they just be called “beer bottle openers”?


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