I previously wrote about hype involved in a restaurant, and fortunately, Bartley’s passed that test, unfortunately, R.F. O’Sullivan’s does not. While not boasting as many accolades as Bartley’s, Sullivan’s has its fair share as well, even Gourmet magazine recently did a piece on twenty burgers across the country to eat right now, listing O’Sullivan’s among them. A giant sign outside of the pub boasts “Number 1 burgers,” in which I couldn’t help but think back to a Seinfeld episode. To paraphrase, I’m not sure how official any of these rankings really are. It was a Saturday night and there was a wait, not a problem, we’re told it would be twenty minutes, and after said time the hostess comes out and says it will be a few minutes longer if we want a table, again no big deal. We finally settle in to the pub, which is quite smaller than I imagined it to be, very noisy, but charming, a nice atmosphere.
The menu lists over twenty five different burgers, but predictably I order a regular old cheeseburger with bacon. (are we sensing a theme here yet?) A few things annoy me and set me off immediately and I can’t seem to write down notes to myself fast enough. Here we go:
- -additional charge for lettuce, onion, and tomato
- -sticky table
- -no free refills on soda
- -a clear no cell phone sign is hung, but it’s so loud in here, who who want to speak on the phone?
- -Phantom Gourmet approved, never a good sign
Now these may not seem like a big deal to most, but to me they are. For some reason the extra charge for the standard trio of lettuce, tomato and onion, and the no free refill rule on sodas bug me. If you’re serving soda from a fountain at a pub setting, how can you not have free refills? Each sip I take is a race against time, so my drink doesn’t become watered down. It’s like they know they have been well received by critics, the press loves them, so they think they can charge additionally for these items, why don’t you just make the burgers $8.75 then?
They make note that the wait for a burger is twenty minutes. Really? It takes twenty minutes to cook 8 ounces of meat? Really? Unfortunately, it takes over thirty minutes to arrive, and yes I understand it’s busy, but it’s also a small place and orders aren’t exactly flying in. To me, it’s more of a warning, “Attention, our cooks are very slow, please be patient.”
I know going in its lean ground sirloin, so I’m not expecting much (fat is flavor, or so the saying goes) and although it imparts a wonderful charred, grilled flavor, that’s all I can taste. The meat is completely tasteless, completely unseasoned. The fries baffle me. Steak fries I understand, a little thicker but still fried. These are beasts, more like baked potatoes than anything, all I’m missing is some sour cream and chives to call it a day, and just like the burgers, completely unseasoned. I commend them for cooking the meat to desired doneness, but I forgot I even had bacon until Nick mentions it. Somehow I have one lonely pickle slice on the side, Nick gets three, Angela has four. So we can be stingy and charge for lettuce, but we can’t portion out pickles evenly?
Above all, we’re calling this a backyard burger, nothing that can’t be done in a backyard in anywhere, U.S.A. The meat is tasteless, almost unidentifiable, but you can taste that it’s grilled, but nothing beyond that. The reason I keep ordering the simplest burgers on the menu is that it should be the easiest thing to execute, it’s a burger, keep it simple. I’m afraid to even try something beyond that (teriyaki sauce anyone?) for a reason. Usually I find that other, more aggressive ingredients completely muddle the taste of the whole point of it all; the meat.