The Beauty of Eating Burgers at the Roadhouse

You really can taste the difference!

By Ari Weinzweig

The other evening when a longtime customer—someone who speaks his mind, kindly and clearly, about what he does and doesn’t love—stopped me as I was passing his table. Holding up the uneaten half of his burger, he looked serious. Unsure of what was coming next, I leaned in to listen. “This burger is the best around! Seriously, I eat a lot of burgers, and this is really something. You really can taste the difference! It’s terrific!”

About our beef.

He’s not the only one to say something of the sort. His kind comments remind me to appreciate the hard work of the northern Ohio farmers who raise the steers. They keep them in the pasture and diligently give them a small amount of grain with the grass they graze on, rather than the typical mass-market finish with an enormous amount of grain at commercial feedlots. It makes me appreciate anew the careful work of the Roadhouse kitchen crew who diligently dry age the meat for a month. And Rodrigo Lopez, who calmly and caringly butchers from whole sides of beef. Thanks to all of their good work, we can then grind the burgers pretty much daily—more coarsely than most places—to better taste the quality of the beef as you eat. We then hand patty them (to avoid breaking down the fats as happens with the more typical extrusion) and grill them over an open oak-log fire. 

Our burger recommendations.

If you’re looking for a good, down-to-earth dinner (or lunch) this week, let me put this beautiful burger in your mind. The Bakehouse bun is exceptional—kind of the perfect pillow upon which to rest all this other stuff. It’s soft enough to soak up the juice from the burger, flavorful enough to contribute a touch of creamy, wheaty depth to the equation. You can add other items to the mix by topping your burgers off in any number of creative and tasty ways. Here are a few that are on my list:

The Pimento Cheeseburger –

 A classic of Columbia, South Carolina, it’s not generally listed right on the menu, but in one of those “Secret Specials” we love, you can just order it up!

The Bacon & Blue Burger 

This one gets featured as a special often, but you can ask for Salemville blue cheese and Neuske’s applewood-smoked bacon on top of your burger anytime.

The 24/7 Burger

Topped with Hook’s 7-year Wisconsin cheddar and Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon. You’ll need to ask for it, but we’re happy to make it for you. It’s Katie from ZingTrain’s longtime favorite!

Like all of us, the burger can be imperfect—the meat is not from mass market steers, so there’s some natural variability. Cooking over an open wood flame to temp is very difficult, and the vagaries of weather, the energy of the grill cook, and you and I as eaters can all have an impact. The burger is a beautiful fit for the John Moriarty quote I shared above: “a marvelous way of seeing and knowing things that, in effect, is paradise regained.”