I was fooled before when I ate at UBurger, which I had always liked, but with my new-found eye of a critic, ultimately I was severely disappointed. I was hoping this would not happen at my visit to Wild Willy’s, which I have been to plenty of times before, it’s so close to where I live I can walk there, and I have always liked it. Sometimes I think it’s easier not to be so critical of things. I’m not limited to food, those who know me realize I am a critic of all things, anything is fair game, but I suppose being a professional chef gives me at least some credibility when it comes to reviewing restaurants. Sure I could just be easier, and really like everything, but then, what’s the fun in that?
Wild Willy’s is still good, however, it was never brilliant and it still isn’t, but maybe a burger doesn’t have to be. They have a decent selection of burgers, but once again, they are really just slight variations on each other, not a whole lot of imagination going on here. And there’s something about the cowboy feel, naming burgers after Annie Oakley and having big murals of the Old West plastered throughout that I just don’t get. I mean I get it, cows and cowboys and burgers and all, but so what? To me, it’s just cheesy and pretty tacky. There’s always been something great and something lackluster about Wild Willy’s all at the same time. The burgers are tasty, and still are, mine was cooked a perfect medium-rare and was very juicy, but still left something to be desired. I ordered a grass-fed burger, which was nice, a cleaner flavor, more pure, but also less beefy and thus less fatty. I kind of want that fat, it is a burger after all. Once again, the cheese was not fully melted. Did I miss something in culinary school? Is melting cheese an impossible task? I think not, then why is it so hard for anyone to do it properly? My bun was fine, but others at the table were not as kind, they complained of a bland bun, with no personality. The meat of course is the number one priority, but the bun has to be able to stand up to it, and for me, the meat to bun ration was off, if only just a little.
The fries, as we were warned by a sign on the table, may be less crispy than expected. The reason? Because they are stored at a low temperature and because “natural sugars” make it difficult to crisp them. Again, maybe my professional training told me otherwise, but making crispy fries is not that hard. These were limp and unseasoned. I understand salt is a personal thing, but put something on them, don’t just leave them naked. Wild Willy’s does boast an impressive selection of tasty frappes and raspberry lime rickey’s, as well as a few beers. The menu is smart, a focus on burgers, with grass fed and chicken options, hot dogs for the kids, (or if your name is Paul Delaney) fries and onion rings. Pretty straightforward, pretty tasty burgers, cooked properly, just nothing superb about it. A good place to eat for sure, but it wont blow you away. Funny, that’s what I thought all along.