Just in case you never noticed before the DUDE part of Random Dude Eats Random Food is more than just some word that rhymes in a blog title. The truth is that I'm a guy and sometimes a guy just wants a damn hamburger. But in my travels I seem to find a really good burger a little hard to come by. Granted I've had some solid burgers, but none that rise to the level of the place with the little green door with the neon sign that says burger (If you get that cultural reference...good on ya). That is to say, I can't find one that really sticks in my memory as the go to place for ground beef. When I went with friends to Houlihan's a couple of weeks ago my primary motivation was the half-priced drinks, but was burger an added bonus or just a waste of money I could have used to buy more cheap booze?
First, before I get to the food, I want to voice a couple of impressions I had about Houlihan's as a restaurant. Upon entering I have to say that my first thought was that this place is trying way too hard. I mean, come on, it's a chain causal restaurant with a "'s" on the end of it's name. Stop trying so hard to look cool with the semi-open kitchen and somewhat retro decor. Just because you don't have all kinds of crazy crap on the walls doesn't make you that much better than Applebee's, Chili's, etc etc etc. Looking at the "good Lord we have everything under the Sun" menu with no clear direction only reinforced my skepticism. Add to that there was only 1 server working the entire bar area, on what was a busy Friday night, then you might begin to understand why Houlihan's had a lot to overcome to impress me.
I looked over the menu and decided on the Burger 72. It has apparently had a quite a bit of press on the local and national blogosphere lately being reviewed at both Would I Buy It Again and Serious Eats. To break it down it's an 8 oz burger with an garlic and herb fried mushroom cap, parmesan, horseradish and watercress on a challah bun. I ordered mine medium, and despite the time it took our food to come out, I was pleasantly surprised. Hell, maybe I was just craving some ground beef. I don't know, but I do know that it was cooked properly and was way better than any other chain burgers I've had in a while. I was suspicious of the watercress seeing as it was a pretty unusual burger topping, but I actually to found that it added a nice contrast to all of the richness of the cream, cheese and beef. The two aspects I were disappointed in were the size of the mushroom cap and the horseradish. I had my sights set on a larger portabello mushroom cap almost covering my burger patty. Even if my expectations in that regard were inflated (I'd mainline mushrooms if I could) I still thought it was smaller than it should have been. It did add a nice flavor element however. The horseradish on the other hand not so much. Maybe again this is a personal taste preference that others don't share, but if you tell me something has horseradish it in something there better be enough to give me more than a little kick. This kick was more Mike Vanderjagt style, off the mark and not coming through when you needed it the most. The fries were pretty standard, but they did taste very fresh and crisp. Delicious.
Taste 8.5/10 The quality of the burger alone might have been worthy of a 9+ in my opinion, but the toppings needed to come through here. Not at the upper limit of it's complete potential, but I'll probably get it again the next time I'm at Houlihan's.
Value 5/10 It was a good burger, but for 10 bucks for a burger and fries it should be. Not a great value. Average I'd say. The drink specials are a really good value especially for a place that isn't primarily a bar.
The idea for this blog is to blog about everything I think about food and food culture. I'll tell you what I like to eat, where I like to eat it and if I thought it was good or if I thought it was crap. My thoughts about food could go anywhere. Hey if you don't like it go blog at methodicaldudereallythinksalotaboutthefoodhesgoingtoeat.blogspot.com