The Burger Pantheon

A certain cracker I know told me about a place on Oakland in the vicinity of our new house (more on that some other time) called Crave, which she said made the best hamburger she’d ever had. My nephew who lives in that same area enthusiastically concurred.

I am not sure if he or she had ever had a burger au poivre at Elsa’s but that one particular hamburger alone exists, in my mind, at the very pinnacle of burgerdom. Granted I seem to remember my food in a way that not that many other people do which may be a curse rather than a blessing. Just now in recalling some early food memories mushrooms in spaghetti sauce at the Dougherty’s house in Mauston when I was about 4 came to mind. I was not, at that point, a fan. Also, around that age I threw an entire loaf of bread out of the window of our third floor kitchen window in the barracks at St John’s Military Academy because I did not like the smell of the toasted bread, I’d toasted about half the loaf before I decided the bread was the problem. My mother freaked the hell out. I explained that the pigeons would eat it. Too bad she’d slept so late. She only had 3 kids under 4 at that point, she couldn’t have been all that tired. I’ve digressed.

There are many hamburgers in the burger pantheon. To wit: Late’s in Manitowoc, a Kiltie Twosome in Oconomowoc, Big Macs (sorry, it’s a once a year indulgence, but, yes), the burgers at Major Goolsby’s (named by Sports Illustrated as the #1 sports bar in America and on which I based the burgers in my restaurant), the Marc’s Big Boy, may it rest in peace, and a Kopp’s cheeseburger (full disclosure, Kopp’s owns Elsa’s but they are utterly and completely different food experiences).

To my deep regret Elsa’s started using a different, crappy bun and stopped serving them with their awesome waffle fries. That last one I ate had only the merest suggestion of that mysterious au poivre sauce and then only on one side of the burger. So I’ve begun searching for a new star to live at the top of the pantheon, a living king, as it were. So we ordered out from Crave while baby sitting for my 2 grand nieces and nephew. (also digressing, there is a word, coined in 1951, for gender neutral or combined nieces and nephews; “niblings” which is sort of cute but I cannot bring myself to use it).

It was good, really good but, no, not getting the crown. Plus you can’t really eat there, well, you can but it’s like eating a gas station and not a convenience store gas station, an actual gas station. Plus, waste. OMG. Granted the containers are cardboard so that’s sort of good but it goes into landfill. Good fries though.

Then we went to Kopp’s. I have not been there in decades. We ate in the car in a rainstorm giving me teenage dining vibes. Unfortunately it did not live up to my memory of it. I don’t think it was substantially different from what I’d had all those years ago, it was just, well, a lot of water under that bridge. I chalk it up to my immaturity at the time or, you know, the ol’ memory going. Good fries tho.

5 Replies to “The Burger Pantheon”

  1. Triscuit has by now had three Crave burgers (just the hamburger, not the Crave burger with arugula) and still sticks by the praise previously heaped. Fries not as good the second time. Agree with comment about kinda eating in a gas station, though that’s a bit harsh. A very clean gas station. One of the best parts of the blog was about eating burgers in the car. Perhaps off topic, but a truly universal joy. Triscuit admires Mr. Dillon for his sometimes ruthless comments about his own cooking balanced by deservedly prideful boasts about the real successes.. Baguette, for example. Many good food ideas have made it from his table to mine. thestuffieat is always a worthwhile read. (Maybe enough about Dots for awhile?)

    1. Thank you for the kind (I think) words. Like I said, it was good, really good, it just didn’t make it to the top of my Pantheon. Yours is a different matter. As for Dots, I have almost 2,500 posts on this dealio, 4 of those posts are about Dots, although Dots may have been mentioned in one or two others. And I am truly and fervently hoping that Dots are what made it from my blog to your table. I am making a novena to St Blaise on the topic.

      1. St. Blaise. One of my favorites next to St. Jude. (Not to be confused with Judas.) Lots of attention being paid to St. Jude these days— “The Saint of Difficult or Desperate Cases”

        1. I shall redirect my novena. I am reading the Decline and Fall of Rome which is amazingly excellent but I stumbled over Edward Gibbon referring to Jude as Jesus’s brother. And not in the sense of brethren. Edward Gibbon converted to Catholicism. There can be no “brother” or, god forbid, “sister” of Jesus. Later I read that he converted as an “intellectual exercise.” Indeed.

  2. Crave is ok, but like you, many friends swear by it, saying it’s the best burger ever.

    I think having to make it like carry-out fast food, takes some of the allure off the burger. It was good, no doubt, but I’m not running across town to get another one

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