Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Vegetarian Review: Tacky Shack

Welcome to the vegetarian corner of the Oxford Burger blog.  I will attempt to highlight the best vegetarian options at the burger joints my carnivorous companions frequent.  When a veggie burger is an option, I will order it and review it.  When a veggie burger is not an option, I get to order and review whatever the hell I want.  You see, as the token vegetarian in the group, I am a majority of one and get to make up my own rules.  

Also, a note: this review is written for an audience of vegetarians and pescetarians.  If you like meat, you might not like veggie burgers.  Because they’re not very meat-like.  They’re not supposed to be.  Many vegetarians actually don’t like the taste of meat.  For some of you, that statement sounds insane, and I understand if you don’t read further.  For those willing to concede that point, let’s continue.

I should start with a review of the veggie burger at Proud Larry’s because I ate there first, but I won’t.  Why?  Because I had the veggie burger at Tacky Shack before I bothered to write up the review of the one at Larry’s, and I can’t hold out on you.  The black bean and corn burger at Tacky Shack is, hands down, the best veggie burger in town.  I used to drive to Memphis just to get the black bean burger at Huey’s when I was craving a gut bomb, and now I don’t have to.  The one at Tacky Shack is just as good; it might even be the same exact commercially made patty.  I don’t hold that against the owners, though.  I’ve had dozens of terrible homemade veggie burgers.  I much prefer a solid Sysco option to a gummy, tasteless homemade one.  

Tacky Shack grills the patty up so it’s nice and crunchy on the outside.  Not only is the black bean patty toothsome and flavorful, Tacky Shack offers a huge array of toppings.  Some are free and some cost a little extra, but a vegetarian can really have a ball here.  I got grilled onions, tomato, avocado, lettuce, ketchup, jalapenos, and mustard.  I got all those toppings assuming that the patty would be a flavorless Morningstar patty.  When I discovered that the black bean patty was fabulous all on its own, I realized I probably didn’t need all those toppings.  But they were excellent, and I’d probably get them again anyway.  For a side item, I got the onion strings.  As an onion ring fan, I love any form of fried onions.  These onions are good, but after a couple handfuls, they start to seem really oily.  My advice: order them if you’re an onion fiend, but eat them while they’re still nice and hot.

I didn’t take good notes on the burger bun, which probably means it neither added nor subtracted from the overall burger experience.  I remember it being vaguely wholesome: whole wheat or honey wheat or something beyond mere Wonder bread.

Tacky Shack offers a reasonable assortment of beer.  They also have a nice selection of ice cream, and they make milkshakes.  I didn’t order one last time I was there, but I thought it was an ice dessert option.
Now, for a few complaints.  One: the black bean burger is not on the menu.  I find this really strange.  Are they afraid they’ll piss off the meat-eaters?  Is there really not room to write “black bean burger” on the menu?  Anyway, I almost didn’t join my friends for this excursion because I didn’t think there was anything for me to eat.  Luckily, Greg called ahead and asked if they had anything for me, and I’m glad he did!  Two: the black bean burger costs more than the beef burger.  I don’t remember by exactly how much, but it’s a dollar or two more, and that always irritates me.  You’d think plant material would be more affordable than an all-beef patty.  The burger is so good, though, that you’ll forget you’re being gouged on the basis of your self-imposed dietary restrictions.  Three: the ambience at the restaurant is a little silly.  A lot of the signs on the wall seem like corporate-mandated “flair” and some of it is just really strange to display in a restaurant.  For instance, one sign reads, “I don’t swim in your toilet; don’t pee in my pool.”

In short, this one is a winner with a few small drawbacks.  I highly recommend Tacky Shack. 
- Meaghin Burke

Friday, July 8, 2011

Americans are eating more burgers.

The Huffington Post reports that Americans are eating more burgers and burgers of better quality. Half of us are eating burgers once a week! Check out the full article here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Help out a burger blogger!

I, Jill, may be a burger blogger, but I'm also a burgeoning filmmaker. And I could really use some help. I'm doing something known as crowdfunding. Basically, I am begging people to donate money to me so I can make a film. Actually, three films. Go big, or go home, or something like that! Here's a synopsis of what I propose to do:

The first three films in this series will be:

Things Street People Say
Anyone that has lived in a city has been panhandled. It seems that a panhandler will say almost anything to part their victim with a few dollars, with such excuses as "my baby needs food!" to "my car has broken down!" This film will cover the different techniques panhandlers use to part people with a dollar.  We hope to discover if there is a time-tested patter that is universal to all panhandlers.  By the way, sir, could you spare $750 for us to make a film?

Abandoned Building 
The homes and buildings we live and work in have stories just as interesting as the people that lived and worked in them. Urban sprawl, our aging population, and migrating populations have left behind buildings.  Homes, businesses, and public buildings slowly decay as their stories are lost.  This film will uncover the story of an abandoned building.

That Strange Thing on the Grocery Shelf
Once the local grocery was just that: a local store that carried regional foods which appealed to the resident culinary heritage. The local grocery stocked foods and preserved the regional diet.  The rise of the national grocery store chain has decreased region foods on the shelf and homogenized our diet.  The reason for sauerkraut juice and other regional foodstuffs is being lost as the last cans of these items disappear from store shelves. In "Strange Things on the Grocery Shelf," the 10 Minute Film team will discover the history behind regional food products and taste them to understand the why they are a part of our disappearing culinary history.  We will be eating some weird stuff, and we will need some Tums, so please donate!

If you are interested in helping out in whatever capacity, you can check out my indiegogo page!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

LB's Meat Market

The Judging Team (Beth, Greg, and myself), Guest Judge Melanie Addington, and Mystery Guest Judge decided to hit up LB's Meat Market, located on University Avenue across from Kroger, for the third installment of burger judging. Seeing as they only serve lunch, that's what we had.  LB's only does take-away, meaning no seating, so Greg and I went to pick up lunch for everyone. We ordered five filet burgers, as opposed to the house burger. I know this slightly goes against our "only get the basic burger" rule, but who can resist a burger made of FILET MIGNON? I certainly couldn't. We ordered and were told it would be about ten minutes. Ten turned into about thirty. I got restless and cranky, mostly because I was hungry, but I couldn't get too angry. The thirty minutes included freshly grinding up a steak to make my burger. We got our burgers, grabbed some chips and sweet tea, and we were off.

Menu at LB's
We took our food to a secret, undisclosed location for eating, judging, and general merriment. Upon first unwrapping our burgers, we all noticed how appetizing they looked. They were very homestyle, very beefy, and the cheese could only be described as gorgeous. They had a good variety of condiments, and all were fresh. I bit into my burger and thought it was really good, yet oddly peppery. Everyone agreed. At first it was an interesting taste, but as I finished my burger, it became a bit distracting and overwhelming. Other than that, I thought it was a great burger. Greg and Beth felt theirs were a bit dry, but mine wasn't.

My burger from LBs Meat Market

Overall, we really liked this burger. We gave it a cumulative score of 19.5 out of 25. It looked appetizing, tasted good, had a good variety of condiments, and only cost $4 plus $0.50 for cheese (which was freshly sliced, local red hoop cheddar). Here is a breakdown of the average scores:

Style: 3.7/5
Taste: 3.9/53
Content: 3.4/5
Satisfaction: 3.9/5
Price: 4.9/5

All in all, a good burger. Try it for yourself and let us know if you like it!

Nota bene: LB's does not serve burgers everyday. You can check their Facebook page to see the daily specials.

-Jillian Pecoraro

This man loves cheeseburgers.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

WMC-TV Action News 5

We were on the news, y'all. Unfortunately, none of us had any idea, so we all missed it. We couldn't find a video of all our news-y glory, but here is a link to the story. Please enjoy and share!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Check us out on Facebook!

We've stepped up our game and made a Facebook fan page. You can check it out here. Go click like to your heart's content!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Oxford Eagle

We made the papers! A story about us will appear in today's Eagle in the "Eating Well" section. You can check out a preview here.

Eating Oxford

Liz at Eating Oxford knows about us! This morning she's posted a blog about our quest. You can read it here. Thanks, Eating Oxford!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Round Table on the Square

On a hot afternoon in Oxford, MS, we decided to give one of Oxford’s newer restaurants a try. The Round Table on the Square is located, as its name suggests, on the city square. Those who have frequented the many establishments in that area might remember that spot as The Blind Pig’s old address. They have many items on the menu classified as “southern fare,” but we were interested in the burger. Since we were there at 5:00 pm for dinner, we didn’t fight a crowd to get a table. We sat on the back patio, where we sat under an umbrella and listened to classic rock, playing the “I’m Out” game with the random songs.

Now, I have tried the Palomino Burger before, and it was delicious. That is a burger cooked to order with pimento cheese and bacon in addition to the regular burger condiments. To keep with the spirit of fairness, we may only rate what is considered the normal burger at any restaurant, so that’s what we ate. It was great.

The burger is cooked to order as I mentioned before, and the cooks were pretty accurate. Mine was medium rare, and was just as juicy as I hoped for. The ingredients are fresh, as their website suggests, and it sat between two slices of toasted ciabatta bread. The patty was seared and not too large for the bun. They only had two choices for cheese, cheddar and pepper jack, but that was fine with me as I love jack cheese. Overall, these elements combined to create a pretty tasty burger.

Greg's Round Table burger on ciabatta with fries

The price of the burger is $8.00 and that came with fries, which were great as well. Washing this meal down for me was a cold Miller High Life in the can. This was actually a plus for me, because I like when you can get a beer in a can at a restaurant. Two Stick does this with PBRs, as do other places in Oxford, and it makes me think of barbecues and get-togethers with friends.

If you would like the objective view, the three judges for this date, Beth, Jill and I, scored the burger in 5 categories: style, taste, content, satisfaction, and price, on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best. Here are our results:

Style:                        4
Taste:                        4
Content:                    4.5
Satisfaction:              4.8
Price:                         3.8

Overall, a score of 21.1 out of 25. This so far is a pretty high score, but this is only the second burger in Oxford that we have rated. They make a darn fine hamburger, I must say. Their vegetarian options were almost none, but they boast a nice southern “comfort food” menu. Some good burgers, good brews, and good friends made this experience a very pleasant one.

-Greg Earnest

Proud Larry's

The first restaurant to be scrutinized on our grand burger tour was Proud Larry's, located just off the Square on South Lamar. We opted to go on May 31st, a Tuesday, because Tuesday is 2-for-1 burgers and beer day. So a burger which might normally cost $7.95 (plus extra for cheese) will only cost you half the price! And it comes with fries!

I've eaten the Larry burger many times, all on Tuesdays. For the price, I've not been disappointed. But if I paid full price for the burger, I'd be a little underwhelmed, and my fellow judging panel and guest judge Melanie Addington agreed. Firstly, when asked how we would like our burgers cooked, we responded medium, medium rare, medium rare, and medium. But only the medium burgers were cooked properly; the medium rare burgers were also cooked to medium.  The size of the burgers was lovely, though. They weren't kidding around when they say it's 8 ounces of beef. I dare say it might be more. They do offer all the staple condiments (lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle on the side, mayonnaise, and ketchup) as well as creole mustard and a toasted wheat bun, though we all felt the wheat bun detracted from the burger for some reason. Additionally, they offer a selection of six cheeses: cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, provolone, bleu, and pepperjack. The ingredients, sans the lettuce, were all fresh and tasty.

Beth's Larry Burger with onion, swiss, lettuce, and fries

Overall, Greg, Beth, Melanie, and I gave the Larry burger a 17.25 out of 25. It's not a bad burger, but not the best. At the end of our meal, we were full. It was a lot of food, and for the price, it's a deal you really can't turn down. For around $10, you get two burgers and two High Lifes. 

Words from Katherine, our fry judge: The fries weren't bad. But don't dip them in mustard.

-Jillian Pecoraro

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Write-Up in "Around the Square Table"

The burger blog is now public! First order of business: Beth gives us a write-up on her blog, "Around the Square Table". Go check it out!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Adventure Begins.

Beth and I like to eat meat. So much so that we have been known to have meals we call "Carnivorefests." In the quest for meat, we eat a lot of burgers. They are delicious, affordable, delicious, and readily available. But whose is best? This is a question we are determined to answer. After much thought and discussion, we have decided that this is a project. A project with an answer determined by science. This is an experiment, and at the end of the experiment, we will know which restaurant has the best burger in Oxford.

To begin, we needed to come up with standard judging criteria. In an effort to be consistent, we have created score sheets to take to each restaurant to judge their fare. Burgers will be judged in five categories: style, taste, content, satisfaction, and price. Each category is worth five points, adding up to 25 points for overall score.

We've also established some rules in our efforts to be consistent, fair, and sometimes bossy.
  1. No ridiculous extras. Just get staple condiments. Lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, cheese, mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, or any combination of those you see fit.
  2. Get fries with your burger. If that's not an option, chips or some other potato-based food will suffice.
  3. Eating burgers is not laborious. You must enjoy your work!
  4. Drink beer when available.
  5. This goes without saying, but burgers have to be made with beef.
And who will be doing all this judging? The answer is a team of very qualified burger eaters: Beth Ziegenhorn, Greg Earnest, and me, Jillian Pecoraro. We will go to every restaurant in Oxford that isn't a fast-food restaurant (we qualify that as places with drive-throughs), eat their burger, and score it, all while putting the results here. And we will have some help. We will bring along guest judges to get different opinions. Meaghin Burke is our Chief Correspondent in Charge of Vegetarian Affairs (Her scores won't be included in the official burger score, but it will give some insight into Oxford's vegetarian options.) And Katherine Fields is our Fry Judge.

Our first burger experience: Proud Larry's! Check in for updates!