I can usually detect when a burger will be memorable or when it will be forgettable, sometimes I day dream before heading into a place that this may be the one, the best burger I’ve ever had, or at least a new favorite that I can rave about. Cafeteria, at least on paper, looked very promising; griddled, house sauce, Parmesan fries. What’s not to love? Also priced at $12, which I believe to be almost the perfect price because it could be delicious enough without breaking the bank, superior to some mediocre pub burger and not snobby like some $16 burger. A guy can dream, but Cafeteria failed on almost every level, a real bummer for what sounded so damn promising. I can’t blame it entirely, but grass-fed is usually not the way to go when constructing a hamburger. There are exceptions to the rule, no question, but similar to the burger I had at Atwood’s Tavern a few weeks ago, over-cooked grass-fed meat ends up tasting like liver, and I now have two examples to back me up. I’m positive not all grass-fed is created equal, again, there have been some good one’s, but for the most part it’s too lean and mostly unpleasant. It is, however, seasoned to perfection, not juicy due to being beyond over-cooked, and more bun than imaginable. And it’s just a boring, grocery store bun, nothing special, in fact quite stale according to my taste buds and a poor choice overall. The house sauce, described by our waiter as a Thousand Island/spicy mayo concoction, is bland and offers little to no spice, and gets completely lost on the sandwich. The cheese is about a half melt, but has good cheddar flavor, if again, on the skimpy side. Sad iceberg lettuce and out of season tomato accompany the burger, as I’ve come to expect nowadays. The fries are probably the best part of the dish, with the flavor of the Parmesan really coming through. But the texture is all wrong, oddly crispy in that frozen kind of way that you’d probably find in a, well, cafeteria, not sure if that is intentional or accidental, but again, the flavor is good.
Cafeteria had the makings of a classic, great burger, the interior is nice and comfortable but the burger is just not executed properly. I imagine more time was spent on writing the menu and making it sound appealing than actually testing and making it taste good. Grass-fed or not, this is not a burger I can get behind.
Overall Score: 72