Sunday, September 4, 2011

Do you hear crickets?

This blog was conceived a few months ago when I realized I'd need to do something with myself while my amazing wife was away at school. I love comics, games, reading, movies, tv, sports, and food. There are probably a million blogs about all of those subjects, but I really wanted to help people. I wanted to make sure that if they read my ramblings they would be able to take away something useful. I decided food would be the most interesting, useful, and fun thing to write about. I'm not going to slave over a solitary cookbook, and I won't be instructing you on the best way to fillet a fish. I'm just going to explore and enjoy one of my favorite foods in as many places as I can manage.

I like food. A lot. Liz, my wife, gives me a hard time when I ask her about what we should have for dinner. Granted, I'm asking like a day or two in advance, but these are important life decisions. Of all of the things we have to do to live, eating is by far the most enjoyable requirement. Sure, I like sleeping in as much as the next guy, but when I get to eat something truly delicious I feel like my day, and my meal, has been well spent. If I can look forward to steak with a red wine reduction or some baked ziti, I'm a happy guy. One food I can always look forward to is a good burger.

Burgers are incredible. I know you think I'm a crazy person for saying that, but let's think about all of the things you can do with a burger. With the variety of toppings, you can do so much with the simple concept of ground meat and a bun. The kicker is that with great toppings comes great responsibility. You can't just throw stuff onto your beautiful patty and bun and expect a good burger. Burgers are all about balance. Too much of anything, or too little, and you're in trouble. The best burger is all about having one consistently great bite after another.

My goal is to eat a burger at as many places in Colorado as possible. I fully expect to eat my fair share of good and bad burgers, but every great adventure has ups and downs. I've learned all I know about food from three places: my mom, cookbooks, and TV. My mom was a very gifted cook. Everyone says that about their mom, I know, but the woman could seriously cook. Her spaghetti sauce was legendary, her meatloaf divine, and her corn chowder has never met an equal. I'll miss every meal that she never gets to cook. The meals that I was lucky enough to share with her taught me how food is supposed to taste.

I think that's enough of an introduction to let you know where I'm coming from. Let's get to the burgers! My first stop is a place I love, and there will be a few other old favorites that I visit. The Cherry Cricket is about 10 minutes away from my house, and I'm very happy to say that. This place gets nominated for awards all of the time, and they deserve it. Located in Cherry Creek, a pretty swanky area in Denver, the Cherry Cricket is revered for their burgers.

I arrived at around 2 o'clock, just in time for the ballgame to start. My first adventure was a solo one, but that's alright. I wanted to watch my Rockies take on the Padres. Luckily, I was able to get a seat at the bar. There must have been a few dozen people waiting on tables outside the restaurant. My wait with friends would have easily taken 20-30 minutes. That's to be expected though. This place is well-known for good reason. I snagged a seat at the bar and ordered an Agave Wheat beer from Breckenridge Brewery.

Upon receiving a menu from the waiter, who was nice enough to switch over to the Rockies game, I noticed that the special was a cricket burger and fries for $7.50. It was a no-brainer at that point, and all I needed to do was decide on toppings. The burger came with lettuce and tomato, but I needed a bit more to satisfy my burger craving. I went with the smoked cheddar and asked for some grilled bermuda onion. Pretty please, of course. I always order my burgers to be cooked medium. I don't want it mooing, and if I wanted beef jerky this blog would be called Jerky Shore or something.

I relaxed and enjoyed my beer with a slice of orange while watching Aaron Cook have a rough outing. I glanced around the area near the bar, and the place was packed. There may have been more people in the Cherry Cricket than there were at Petco Park. It's a pretty standard bar with friendly bartenders, lots of sports, and a very full house. The place doesn't scream, "We have the best burgers in Denver!" I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the service. Regular check-ups and offers to grab me another beer were great.

Now, the cricket burger is 1/2 pound. That's a mighty burger if ever there was one. Amazingly, they make it fit on the sesame seed bun with almost no burger going over. That's skill. I've been to barbeques where I'm left with a meatball and a bun, and I've been to restaurants where the burger goes way over the border. Remember what I said earlier about balance. I want to taste a little bit of everything when I take a bit of my burger. The size of the patty is critical to make this happen. Too small, and you've got several boring bites of bun. Too large, and you've got the meat sweats before you hit the jackpot.

The cricket burger was incredible. There isn't really another way to put it. I had to pace myself to avoid awkward stares from the staff and patrons. The burger was perfectly cooked with some pink in the middle, and the onions were perfect. After applying modest amounts of ketchup, mayo, lettuce, and tomato, nothing was off. It was all in proportion, and it was all so very good. The cheddar was there without being overwhelming, and added to the flavor rather than commandeer it. A half pound of anything is a lot of food to eat, but the cricket burger seemed to just disappear all of a sudden. You don't really notice that it's going until it's gone.

I started off with one of the best burgers out there. I'm confident in that, but I wanted to set the bar high. The Cherry Cricket will be a tough act to follow, but that's good. When I have a really fantastic burger I'll know it for sure.

Should you be interested in giving the Cherry Cricket a shot, there's a link to their website here. I can't imagine you'll be disappointed.

1 comment:

  1. alright sir, you've got me, gonna have to impress me with those burgers though, I am a chef after all!