Hooter’s Highway 150 Pelham – All I needed to know, I learned there

Channel your inner Aristotle for a moment: just what in the world should you expect of a restaurant where the breasts getting the most attention are the ones bringing you the food? I’m not knocking the place; I’m just asking a simple question.

Beautimous blog burger review HootersI’d say, don’t expect too much from either the food or the server.*

* Young (or not young), single men: consider that a life lesson.

Let’s just drop the pretense for a moment that Hooters is a restaurant. I will, at the end, give you some real idea about the burger, cause this is a burger blog. What I have instead is like a substitute for a review. Let’s call it, “Things I learned on a recent trip to Hooters on Highway 150 in Pelham.” And no, I’m not making any of this stuff up; how could I? Let’s say much of it was as freely offered as the pleasant company.

  • There seems to be a ta ta trail way that runs from Hueytown to the Hooters on 150. Now, this isn’t to say that all aspiring hair stylists from Hueytown are destined for a stop at this fine establishment, but the number at this one was astounding.
  • Normally, the staff at Hooters wears the painfully tight white tops and orange shorts, with hose and leg warmers (whatever). But there is a second outfit: the black one, which is for special occasions only. Monday nights. Your birthday … or according to one source, if you are a be-yatch and are bloated.
  • There is a famous book about what happens when children manage children. Have you read/seen Lord of Flies? You’d be half insane or deluded to think that managing a place like that would be a dream job. God bless ’em. God bless ’em all.
  • What is it about a table with two men sitting at it and one unoccupied chair? I realize my dashing good looks and suave personality naturally makes me irresistible, but I have my married friends to think about. I think at final count, we had five different women sit/serve at our table.
  • Unlike On Tap Sports Grill, there is no issue watching the football game you want. I appreciate hockey as much as the next person who doesn’t really care about it, but seriously (at On Tap), you’ll take one of your prime televisions and dedicate it to hockey, in the middle of college football season. Are you out of your mind?

Hooters Hwy 150 Pelham burgerOh, there was more. There always is at Hooter’s. There are the givens: the table of already drunk frat boys; the table of middle aged bikers – men and women looking rode hard and put up wet; a dad with his one or two little children … It’s a family place (and no, I’m not above such … I’m just saying …).

And there was food. I’m reviewing the burger, cause as I’ve mentioned in the past, this is a burger blog. But I will admit an affinity for their wings. I’m happy to give Hooter’s a tweak on the proverbial nipple, but for a chain, you know what you’re getting … pub food, that’s not bad.

The burger was pretty good. I made the mistake of asking about the meat, as I do sometimes. But safe to say, it’s sourced but not bad. Didn’t taste frozen/thawed. And it’s juicy. The burger itself comes naked. You can order whatever you want on it, but the fun stuff is extra (ain’t that always the truth). Bacon. Mushrooms. Etc. I liked the sesame seed bun; it’s a bun that seems to have fallen out of favor of late, but I do like them.

Oh, lest I forget the fries … Hooter’s has a beautimous favorite – curly fries. Sure, they are mostly for show. They are no different than any potato, but revel in being teasing you with curly-que-ness … kind of like Hooter’s itself.

Points are 1-10 (ten being the best)

Meat – 8.5 … I’m giving it credit because it tasted juicy and the way you’d expect something that had not been frozen to taste.

Bun and fixins’ — 8 … I’ve never really gave someone extra points for lettuce, but I like the leafs that were extra crispy. I also liked the sesame seed bun. Condiments are on the side.

Sides – 8.75 … Maybe these should be potential points. The burger doesn’t come with anything, unless you consider the lettuce and tomato as sides. Now, if you order sides, you’ll make an old man happy. Curly fries … Or you could get a side of hot wings … or a side of lipitor … or a defibrillator, to go.

Service & Presentation – 8 … I just consulted with my PR guy and attorney, and we have an approved statement on this … “The service was adequate and appropriate to the venue.”

Ambiance – 8.75 … I think I’ve covered this.

Bonus — 0 … They have a decent beer selection at Hooter’s. Not the best, but certainly you should be able to find something. Now, when you go through your first choices and are shut out, that blows. But they finished strong (Sam Adams Oktoberfest).

Rating – BBB+

Hooters on Urbanspoon


Tony’s (Pelham) — A burger from the A-Team

I can’t completely explain why I love the burgers at Tony’s. When I was a kid, I had a similar experience, not with food, but with television. The 80’s were the peak of pointless, scripted programming. While these shows can’t hold a candle in the mind-numbing qualities of Jersey Shore, the Bachelorette or Toddlers and Tiaras, etc, I was mesmerized by the likes of Riptide, Manimal, Dukes of Hazzard* and … the A-Team.

* Though I should note that the Dukes of Hazzard did reach an unwatchable level when the brain boxes at CBS replaced the leads in the show with other redneck cousins. Maybe we can start a movement that when a show makes a stupid move like replacing its lead characters (Bo and Luke Duke in this case) we can say that the show has now “Coy and Vanced.” **

** Similar to how “jumping the shark” is used when a show, like the Fonz in Happy Days, makes a creative waterskiing jump from novelty to stupidity.

Tony's BurgersTony’s (located near the intersection of Valleydale Road and Hwy 31 in the Publix Shopping Center) is like the A-Team for me. I can’t completely tell you why I like it. The show made about as much sense as having Mr. T lead a Girl Scout Troop. Ex-special forces guys going around doing good deeds, shooting massive amounts of ammo and no one ever getting shot. Four guys living in a van. Plots as predictable as every episode of CSI or American Idol.

But I would still watch. Every week. The only difference between Tony’s and the A-Team? Tony’s is a lot more satisfying.

What I can tell you are things that really draw me to Tony’s. First, it is a true family restaurant – family in execution and ownership. On any given day (they’re open M-Sat, breakfast and lunch), you find the owner and his wife working the grill.

Tony’s has a burger/grill pedigree, it’s just not the one most people assume. Joe, of the Pelham Tony’s, has connections to Sneaky Pete’s owners, but he’s not related to the Tony of the now-closed Tony’s Terrific Hot Dogs in downtown Birmingham.

After a few visits, you’ll notice that the clientele at Tony’s consists of many regulars. There is no “Welcome to Moe’s.” But you might hear, “How’s your momma?” or catch Joe’s wife trying to make someone’s kid laugh.

Does Tony’s use only heirloom tomatoes? Only local cattle, hand-fed grass clipping from a velvet glove? Inspect every potato?

In a word, no. But when you eat a burger there, you won’t care, either. It is just – hands down – one of the best you’ll find in the area. The whole experience is one of the best. I’m also throwing a shameless plug for a good dog here. That aside, man I love me some Tony’s Jumbo Cheeseburger.

Tony's CheeseburgerAt Tony’s, you can watch them put your massive burger together. The meat is fresh, thrown on a grill, seasoned appropriately. The Jumbo Cheeseburger is straightforward – lettuce, pickles, tomato, onions on a sesame seed bun. He goes heavier on the mayo.

And the first taste is just divine. It’s a guilty pleasure of life. It’s one of those places where the burger is so good, so deliciously decadent in its simplicity that I look past possible shortcomings of the place.

And that’s where I understand it also. The burger is terrific. I’d put Tony’s burger up against Chez Fonfon, Stadium Grill and Green Valley Drugs. But I go back because eating there and being a part of the life of the owners and the people you meet there is like going home.

And that’s part of the allure of a burger to me. It’s not completely about going out and finding the greatest pieces and assembling the Yankees of the burger world (the best team you could buy). Sometimes, instead of a white table cloth and a polite waiter, I want an owner who comes over to my table to see how my kids are doing and pulls out a photo of her baby to show. It more than welcoming; it’s feeling like you are a part of the place.

You see, we can’t always put into words why some place makes us feel at home, but we know that comfort when we feel it. And that, my fellow burger lovers, is as organic an experience as you’ll likely ever have.

Meat – 9.25 … Hand-made patties, cooked on a grill to just the right amount of greasy goodness. The meat has a good, garlic/onion-salt flavor. I don’t know how they do it so consistently, but the mix of the burger, the seasonings on it and just a touch of mayo is burger magic. This place gets the Samuel L. Jackson “Tasty Burger” seal of approval.

Bun and fixins’ 8.5 – Nothing fancy here, but if you do it right, it doesn’t need to be fancy. They also serve a tasty bacon cheeseburger here.

Sides – 7.5 … Huh??? When I was a kid, sometimes when I had to mow the grass before my favorite shows came on, I’d run out and literally run behind the push mower to get through quickly (which leaves a really bad mowing job). I usually eat my crinkle fries first, here … for similar reasons.

Service & Presentation – 8.5 … You might think that they wouldn’t get a lot of points for presentation, but to me, if you run a short-order grill and you serve things on throw-away plates and paper, that’s fine. And the people are the nicest.

Ambiance – 9 … Did you just read the review?

Bonus X – +1 … “Bless me, father … I confess that some of my children visit Tony’s and don’t eat a burger. They eat the hot dog. But I can’t make myself order a burger and dog at the same time for myself – though I REALLY WANT TO — it seems too sinful.”

Rating — AA-

Tony's Hot Dog's on Urbanspoon

Five Guys Burgers and Fries – Therapy and a burger to bind them

Five guys burgers and friesI’m convinced that if I keep up this quest to find the best burger experience in Birmingham I’m going to need serious medication or serious therapy, maybe both. After a recent trip to Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Hoover, Alabama, I’m going to let you be the judge … about the therapy part (I’m still doing the reviews around here).

You don’t mind if I lay down on this couch do you? I’m old fashioned that way.

“It all began when I was a child. Well, actually, it began several years ago, when this chain-burger-place movement started. And I started having these dreams … I would be running in a field of flowers, the wind blowing through my chain mail. And I would come to this castle. Wrapped in shimmering samite, a burger would rise over the castle, and I would hear these voices.

“‘Seek out a true burger. But beware … One burger to rule them all. One burger to find them. One burger to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.’”

I’ve been scared of the bind part ever since … I get mentally bound by Five Guys, and to an extent all the other chain casual-dining burger places. I’m drawn by the seductive food, because it is typically good. But like the one true ring, it serves another master. You may be able to harness the power of those places and have a delicious meal, but you do it at the expense of individuality (like Smeagol being turned to Gollem).

And no, I’m not saying that these places are evil. For consistency and efficiency, they have a decent common experience that is still somewhat contrived and plasticized.

So my mania on this topic is crystal clear: I do like Five Guys food. The burger is cooked well, so there is no confusion on what you’ll get, but they also don’t allow the burger to become dried out or overcooked. Also they tout that they only use fresh meat, not frozen or pre-made (that’s clear from the patty). They are so proud of the freshness that — according to their website — there aren’t freezers at Five Guys.

It’s is a succulent experience of grease in all its beauty. They also offer a long list of toppings that you can choose, all at no extra charge, including all the usual suspects and unusual (free) ones like mushrooms, grilled onions, jalapenos and A-1 Steaksauce.

I had my burger with “The Works” – which is pretty much the burger equivalent of “the normal stuff.” Also note, the only real difference between the small and large on the menu is the number of patties on your burger, two for the latter.

Lest I go on about the burger, let me cut to the fries. Five Guys is proud of their fries, that they are fresh, made in-house and cooked in peanut oil (if you have a loved one with peanut allergies, consider this place unclean). They truly are a work of art – greasy art. When you walk in, you see bags of potatoes. When they emerge in their fry form, they are crispy, lightly salted, pieces of peel and with that hint of salty/sweetness that cooking in peanut oil brings.

First timers should know that a large fries is enough to feed several people. Unless I miss my guess, they fill a 16 oz. cup to the brim and then, per corporate guidelines (I assume) dump some extra into your paper bag. It leaves a greasy stain that I suggest ignoring. Focus on inhaling them before you put extra thought into things such as calories, fat — the large fry weighs in at more than 1,400 calories.

Probably this approach is best all the way around. While the experience at Five Guys may not be unique, it is consistent and a worthy burger.

Points are 1-10 (ten being the best)

Meat – 8.5 … This is an example of a burger place that uses fresh meat, but lets the meat do the talking. Not a lot of seasoning and served seared (sealing in juices).

Bun and fixins’  — 7 … Have it your way … A sesame seed bun and then whatever you select to go on it. Nothing really exceptional about all this part of the experience. And as a side note, I prefer places that offer the burger a specific way. It lends itself to a better feel for what really works on it.

Sides – 9.5 … As close to fry nirvana as you are likely to get. I guess you could improve them by not making them so bad for you.

Service & Presentation – 6 … A sack … and order at the counter. I don’t know if I am at a sit down place or at Hardees.

Ambiance – 6 … Décor at Five Guys is boring. Plus, I really dislike all the clips of their accolades in other cities. It’s overkill. And while I believe that they have a great product, why not just let a good burger speak for itself.

Bonus X – Not this time.

Rating – A

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Beautimous Burger Turn Offs — Let’s share …

I’ve eaten a lot of burgers in 42 years. I’ve had them with jalapenos, peanut butter or as blank as a beige wall. I craved them when I was a kid, even getting my grandfather to buy them for me for breakfast from McDonalds.

So, I know what I like; and I know what I don’t like.

I’ve been thinking about a burger place or restaurant: What would instantly get me lathered up? What starts the negative juices flowing? Here is a list, in no particular order, of things burger-related that get under my skin …

Places that ask you how you want your burger cooked only to cook it the way they cook all their burgers — I understand the court-inspired safety of medium well or well done. But if you ASK me and I say that I want it medium, then you’ve kind of set my expectation. If you’re going to cook it around well-done anyway, just don’t ask how I want it.

Too much salt – Ugghh. Salt should be to a meal like white noise is to going to sleep. If you notice it, you’re screwed and you’ll be listening to it. But when perfect, it’s almost unnoticed. Too much salt has become a cheap sales gimmick at a lot of bar/pub places (probably to sell more of the higher margin drinks) … see Mugshots/Tilted Kilt.

Pre-bussing my table – Okay, this isn’t really burger specific. I realize the need to turn the table. I realize that time is money, but I don’t like
being rushed (who does?). And questions like “You still working on that?” or variations on “Are you through yet?” drink me crazy. Ask if I’d like some of the stuff cleared, maybe, or better yet … wait until I’ve left.

Onions – The epicenter of my personal wishy-washiness about burgers is the onion. Some days, I don’t mind them, but often I find that the onion
overpowers all the other flavor of the burger. A strong onion will be the most dominant taste and it’s the taste that sticks with you. It’s the loud,
drunk friend of the burger world. You invite him to your party, but you know that he’s gonna get loud and completely blitzed, probably say things
you don’t want and be an complete ass. So, do you invite or not?

Uneven distribution – If you believe in all the stuff you’re putting on your burger, be bold, okay. Make sure that you spread enough around to go on every bite. If you leave sections untouched, I might get a less than tasty surprise.

Limp fries – There is a way too easy analogy here that I will just leave, as we say, hanging. Undercooked. Overcooked. Left in the heat lamp too long. I don’t care why. Crispy and hot are the only way.

From Beautilicious  … Ranch Dressing — She doesn’t do ketchup and ALWAYS asks for ranch dressing for her fries. Nothing worse than not having it or being charged for a ketchup-equivalent.

Do you have any special peeves that I missed? Leave a comment and share.

Mugshots – Burger ‘High Noon’ needs a different seasoning

The name “Mugshots” reminds people of a challenge that this eatery offers: finish a monstrous three-patty burger and all the trimmings in 12 minutes and you get it for free, get your name and photo on the wall of honor and are provided letters of apology to your physician and family (okay, maybe not the last one …). Like a showdown at high noon, that challenge is something that the wise try to avoid and the young approach with gusto and indiscretion: “I’ll make you famous!”

Mugshots, in Vestavia Commons (the original opened in Hattiesburg, Miss. in 2004), is a fairly new casual dining sportish-bar, a new-ish location of a new-ish chain. They believe in burgers at this place. They tout the fact that all are half a pound of ground round and each grilled to a nice, safe medium well. But as I ate there, I kept hearing the theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in my head.

I found my burger – and the experience in general – maddening. Flashes of brilliance mixed with pedestrian over-exuberance.  The fact that many people have suggested that I go and that it’s on several lists of best burgers makes this review … complicated.

So, I’m taking the easy way out and turning over the review. Yep, delegating. To Slim, the cowboy philosopher and burger aficionado …Mugshots

Let me pull out mah notes, here … ‘scuse me, while I whip this out

Me and beautilicious (my hamburger trail buddy), we ordered two different burgers offa that thar menu. I had the “McDonald,” which they called, “By far the best burger on the menu … it’ll knock your clothes off.”

Well, it didn’t, and it didn’t knock one buckskin or hoop skirt off of no one, but iffin that’s the best burger there, than that’s sadder than the cow-poke what said, “I’m putting my money on the Clanton boys; they ain’t never been beat at Corral.”

But, lookey here, you see, the bun on that-thar burger was as tasty as a shot of whiskey after being on the dusty trail all day. Sweet. Soft. Purdiest and tastiest thang in that meal.

But boy howdy, that bun was busy. Why, they’d put nigh onta’ ever livin’ thang you could image on it. Cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomater, ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, and ungyuns. Saltier than salt lick I got out on the back forty … And that meat, I know, I’m justa galoot; I tells ‘em to only cook it til it stops mooing. Pardna’, they cooked that thang til it wuz pert near dunner ‘n my boot.

And them thangs they called beer-battered fries … You might can fool an old cowboy once, but I looked them hornswagglers in the eyes and said, “Haven’t I seen you before round these parts? Maybe at Cap’n D’s or some other place?” And you know what, those yellow-livered slivers did? Nothing. Sat there looking guiltier than one of them veg-e-terrians at a cattle rustlin’ convention.

And that sweet thing, beautilicious, you know they brought her a hamburger sandwich with nuthin’ to go on it ‘cept peanut butter? Darn tootin’! Meat, bun and crunchy butter. And you know what? It twernt half bad. Hell, I might even get me one some day.

You know where they get their meat? Naw, not New York City. Houston. Yep. Probably couple million head of cattle on the trail tween here and Houston. None of them good enough?

Oh, it twernt bad, fer the most part. It’s just a bit trigger-happy. Green. A hot shot kid, full of piss and vinegar. It’ll mellow. Age. Learn the ropes of life like, “Sometimes, you eat the bar. Sometimes, it eats you.”

But til then, keep it simple, abide. Less is more, sometimes. Happy burger trails!

Meat – 7 … I think I’ve said enough about this topic. If it had any juiciness left when it got to me, I couldn’t find it.

Bun and fixins’ – 7.5 … Accentuate the positive: the bun is awesome. Alone, the big, fat yeast roll would get a 9.5. But throwing everything on what is supposed to be your place’s best isn’t impressive; it’s overkill. And the lettuce had a distinct twinge of soapiness.

Sides – 7 … I’ve seen your face somewhere before Mr. Fry … Don’t tell me. Okay, tell me. It’s killing me. BTW –I saw another table with fried dill pickles. I still want them!

Service & Presentation – 7 … Beautilicious got a large plastic cup to-go. She was pleased and wanted to make sure that it was noted. Gene was pleasant and attentive.

Ambiance – 8.5 … While I haven’t mentioned much about this, the atmosphere is fun and inviting. It can get loud and the beer is cold. The patio is a great locale for people watching and waiting for a movie at the Rave. Kid friendly, friend-friendly, date-friendly.

Bonus X – No points, but from appearances the other food there looked good. Have heard that the Veggie Black Bean burger is good. Asked the staff if it was cooked on the same grill as the beef. It is cooked separately (on a flat-top used for veggies).

Mugshots Grill on Urbanspoon

Stadium Grill: A Green Knight of the burger quest

In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Green Knight challenges Arthur’s knights to swap a blow with him. After Gawain cuts his head off, the green bad boy picks it up and leaves, one of the lessons being — in that quest as it is in mine — that not everything is always as it seems. Appearances can deceive. In the end, patience, dedication and humility pay off. Yes, it is humility — to acknowledge that beauty, truth and joy can come from unexpected places.

stadiun grillStadium Grill in Bessemer is the kind of place that my parents would have never gone. It looks on the outside like a class-A shack. It sits directly across 4th Ave. from the tongue-twisting, Snitz Snider Stadium, the home of the Jess Lanier Purple Tigers  (until they high-tailed it to the Bessemer burbs and the new stadium near Academy Dr.). The parking lot is gravel-ish and paved-ish … depending on where you park. This ain’t the Summit … heck, it’s not even Wal-Mart.

But when you walk in … it’s homespun beautiful, a burger dive in Bessemer. The inside of Stadium Grill (if you can, here’s a link to their FB page)is about as burger jointy as you’ll find. You can get beer. You can get a soft drink in a can. You can get what is supposedly a great rib-eye sandwich. But bring cash. And bring a picture of yourself. And get ready for a great burger.

stadium grill in bessemerThe walls and the booths at this small place are adorned with photos of people who have patronized this Bessemer icon. You can see from the pictures that the place has been around several days. The tables are worn. The walls are dark. Which makes the flat screen tvs on the walls at once predictable and completely out of place at the same time.

They also boast of a great burger. And to be honest, it doesn’t disappoint. While I was there, I saw them bring in their meat; they’d bought it from a local grocery store. I ordered a regular cheeseburger and taking the waitress’ suggestion, opted for the hand-cut fries.

The burger was first-rate, terrific even. The patty was knobby and clearly had been hand patted and was not overcooked. I asked for medium, and it came that way — juicy and eventually overwhelming the bun. The meat was fresh, cooked perfectly and seasoned just enough to be interesting. The fixings with it were what you’d expect also.

I liked the place the moment I opened the door and saw the pay phone still inside, the familiarity and warmth of the owners, patrons and employees. I considered professing courtly love to it when I saw the pictures on the walls and my burger. But they had me – 100 percent – when I got the fries. Hand cut. Fried and hot and greasy, but not soggy. With enough of skin left on them to make them interesting and with earthy flavor.

Oh, they also brought me some of their “special sauce” to dip my fries in!

I will be going back – with more cash. And this time, I’m not sharing the fries. And I’m taking my picture, too.

Points are 1-10 (ten being the best)

Meat – 8.5 … No question this was fresh. No question it was made with love. Juicy but not runny. Flavorful (almost), but still room to achieve something more.

Bun and fixins’ – 7.5 … Points for good, solid extras that don’t break down and turn to burger mush.

Sides – 9 … Like I said before, “A sucka’ for homemade fries …” Sauce was a nice surprise.

Presentation and service – 7.5 … Fun waitress who knew when we walked in that we were Stadium Grill virgins. Thank God, she was gentle.

Ambiance – 9 … A picture of this place should be placed next to definition of burger dive/joint in the dictionary. It’s the type of place that you need to check your preconceptions at the door and just enjoy the experience.

Bonus X – Not this time.

Stadium Grill on Urbanspoon

Hamburger Heaven (280) — What should you expect of a Puritan Patty?

There are certain things that always get me into trouble. Getting into silly arguments. Telling me I can’t do something. An all-you-can-eat bacon buffet. But topping the list has to be the “expectation” thing.

You see, we can’t go through life and not have expectations. They come naturally and can be a pain in the patootie. We expect this thing from a job, or that from someone else. We expect our children will clean their room … or that people just get us.  Expectations move us toward an assumption of what will be; a quandary I now face as I review a recent trip to Hamburger Heaven.

Hamburger Heaven (HH) is an iconic Birmingham burger place, both a local favorite and a place I’ve eaten at probably 20 times over the years.  It started some 25 years ago as one, lone burger stand between Irondale and Roebuck. Today, the original still stands, and there are additional locations in Homewood, on 280, in Gardendale and Tarrant.

Hamburger Heaven is a place that states, in its name, that it is a divine realm of hamburgery. It was a winner of the best burger award – 2008. It is, rightly so, proud to serve a good hamburger. And my memory of eating there has been good – good family times, good food and always a surprise, like their shakes.

But following my quest trip (which was to the HH on 280), I left feeling … ehhh. I wasn’t in love. I wasn’t even in lust. The meat on my burger was fresh, but way overcooked. The fries are not anything to crow about – bagged and blandish. I ordered banana pudding that should have been called “vanilla wafers and pudding,” because the existence of a “banana” in that dessert would need to have been authenticated by a professional.

Not everyone in attendance with me had the same experiences. Another person’s burger was less overdone. The ice cream was tasty (and I was kicking myself for being a banana pudding sucka!). People swear by other stuff there—the cornballs, the shakes, even the hot dogs are good.

So, in answer to the question — “Was the meal just disappointing or were my expectations too high?” – I have decided to answer, “Yes.”

It was disappointing. I’ve had better meals there in the past. With a quest comes a twinge of good and the bad – and in this one, ya’ get one chance. But my expectations for HH were also unrealistic. While HH looks the part of a hamburger joint, it really isn’t (at least not any more). While it has integrity in terms of freshness and doing things their way, it makes compromises, like the fries.

I realized that my primary issue is that HH is less of a homey, burger haven, and it’s more of a not-so-fast, fast-food, sit-down place. Heat lamps. A drive-thru. Assembly lines. Signs selling their secret sauce (which tastes strangely like Sneaky Pete’s sauce).

So, if you’re looking for a haven from most fast food, a place that is local, a place that is reasonably priced, and you want – included in that list – a typically good burger, with some ice cream or onion rings, then (forgive me, Belinda Carlise) Heaven is a place with six locations around Birmingham. But if you’re looking for the best, then come back to Earth and join the rest us as we continue the quest.

Points are 1-10 (ten being the best)

Meat – 6.5 … It means something that a place touts hand making patties and the freshness of their meat. But mine could have also carried a “cooked so long that no germs be here” seal … it twas a devout Puritan patty – honest and noble in its birth, structured but overworked as an adult, and ultimately, too grim and serious.

Bun and fixins’ 7 – The buns are “lubed” up in some machine that leaves it a bit greasy. I’m personally not a big fan of the special sauce.

Sides – 6.5 … Zzzzzzz. Wake me when a real side shows …

Presentation and service – 7 … It’s an order at a register place. They did mess up our order (some of us, who will remain nameless, insist on a having a burger that’s dressed in a bikini of cheese and condiments only). But fixed it quickly and without any hassle.

Ambiance – 8 … I do like HH, and the décor and the place is not frou frou. It’s burgery – with pics of The Bear and Shug on the wall.

Bonus X – +1 … I’m gonna put the vanilla wafer and pudding thing out of my mind. I like the ice cream. And they do have an AWESOME shake. BTW – all kids meals come with ice cream!

Fresh ground beefP.S.  For those of you concerned that I’ve written off HH due to a bad trip to a lesser location, I may decide to review the Irondale location, given it is the original …
Hamburger Heaven on Urbanspoon

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