POSTED ON AUGUST 4, 2010:
No Slim Pickings
Diners shouldn't expect a light lunch or dinner
OK, yes, they do have a chicken sandwich, and they do have a veggie burger, but the place is called "Fat Guy's Burger Bar" for goodness sake. If you're looking for a great variety of chicken sandwiches, go to Skinny Minnie's Chicken House and Veggie Bar. Otherwise, check out chef/owner Chris Dodge and partner Mike Meehan's specialty burgers.
I was instantly drawn to the Black and Bleu burger. It's actually two patties pressed around bleu cheese and whatever toppings you pick, and it's crusted with blackening seasoning. The tang of the bleu cheese, the heat from the spice and the flavor of the mushrooms and green chilies I picked as my extras made for a real taste explosion.
Before I go any further, I'll issue a caveat of sorts. I know that everyone has their own personal attraction to a certain type of burger, prepared a certain way on a certain bun with certain toppings, and cooked at his or her favorite temperature. I am not here to advocate any particular preference, or to state what is right or wrong about anybody's favorite. We all like what we like, and that's that. Right now, I am talking mainly to the person who is willing to try something a little different or be a bit adventurous for 15 minutes of your life.
If you are that person, then you might want to try the Peanut Butter Bacon Burger. If you order it with Thai chilies and grilled pineapple, it's sort of a Thai-style burger and a really great but unique flavor combination.
If the concept is more than you can belly up to, try the Fat & Juicy burger. It's two patties pressed together around a blend of bleu cheese and butter. I know, I know, but it's rich and tasty. You'll definitely "belly up" after this one.
Chef Dodge uses a thin patty that is pressed out on the griddle, which gives it a crusty edge and a tender interior. With ground beef, faster is better. The meat is purchased locally and always fresh, and the result is a juicy, drip-down your-arm, bale-o-napkins burger with lots of flavor.
The standard fare is two patties with the "toppings" between them. The buns are produced locally and are textured and flavorful and actually still look like a bun down to the last bite, unlike the one so many places use that reminds me of something made from white cake batter and turns to mush when it is required to hold a burger for more than a minute. The larger version is a triple burger, fit for a king, or a linebacker.
But the real key is what you pick to enhance it. The burger is good, but the topping combinations are what make it special. You get to choose from a huge list of items, all the standard things such as mustard, mayo, ketchup, lettuce and tomato to some nice options such as jalapeno relish, grilled onions, mushrooms, grilled pineapple, Thai Chilies, Sriracha sauce, bbq, green chilies, peanut butter, bacon, cheeses and ad infinitum.
Dodge is a graduate of the Oklahoma State University Culinary School in Okmulgee, which produces a lot of the local talent in this part of the state. Under the tutelage of Renee Jungo and other great instructors, Chris and many others throughout the years have gained a useful foundation of knowledge and passion upon which they can and do build.
I also ordered the spicy fries. These are hand-cut potatoes, (about 12 pounds per order, I think) that have a spicy, smoky seasoning shaken on them hot out of the fryer.
Hand cut, fresh fries are best if you can take the time to blanch them first. Blanching is just a fancy term for partially cooking something. When you blanch vegetables, pasta or whatever it is, you essentially set it up for the final cooking process which, a) gives you better control over the final product, b) shortens the time you need to get the food to the guest or customer, and c) in the case of fries, makes them crisp and brown and prevents them from getting soggy as quickly.
Unfortunately mine were a bit soggy, and although they were good, they weren't as crisp or as brown as I would have liked. Not terrible, just not quite up to par. The dipping sauces are a real treat, however, and made up for any shortcomings. I chose two, a strawberry ketchup, sweet and fruity, and a malted aioli -- a nice tangy mayonnaise mixed with the classic vinegar the British traditionally shake on their chips. (They barely know what ketchup is!) By the end I had actually mixed the two together and had a great tasting sauce.
Other flavors include honey mustard sauce, caramelized onion aioli, chipotle aioli, Sriracha ranch, roasted garlic aioli and Mexi-ketchup, which is essentially a combination of guacamole and chipotle ketchup. Chipotle is a smoked jalapeno pepper and Sriracha is the red chili paste that you see on tables in Asian restaurants that will set you free from all your cares and woes. Mainly because it's so hot you can't think about anything else.
All kidding aside there are actually other items to select. There is a section called "Not A Burger," which includes several hot dogs, a BLT, a veggie burger (for those other people), and a chipotle chicken sandwich. They also offer several chili dishes including a chili dog and the favorite Frito Chili Pie.
Everything comes wrapped in a paper bag, ready to go out the door, so you can eat while you watch the game, take it home or sit at one of the tables outside in the breezeway in front of the east entrance to the new ball park and watch the crowd.
They've got the kids covered, too, so don't worry about burning their little mouths with a spicy burger. Grilled cheese, hamburgers or a hot dog round out the kids' section.
Specialty milkshakes, ice cream and beer and wine complete the offerings available.
Housed in the location where Linda Jordan and her husband's fish market used to be, the décor is what you might call European utilitarian. Lots of straight, clean lines with black and chrome as the dominant visuals. There are lots of seats at the bar as well as along the front windows for a view of Greenwood. It's fun to stop for a burger before the game, but give yourself plenty of time, or if you are really wise, go on a non-game night.
Lunches are pretty insane as well, so give yourself extra time then, too. And speaking of time, you'd better give yourself time for a nap. Who could go back and work after a meal like that?
Fat Guy's Burger Bar
140 N. Greenwood Ave.
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11AM-10PM; Sunday 11AM--7PM or whenever the game lets out
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