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Dec 14, 2006 07:02 PM

U Burger Again - Good Onion Rings and I Argue With the Register Guy

Today at work my boss told me to take the corporate BU credit card to Barnes and Noble in Kenmore to get some company gifts.

"Get yourself lunch while you're there, too. Put it on the card."

Swish! My mood immediately brightens, as the Barnes and Noble is right near U Burger, the new, generally liked fast food burger joint in Kenmore Square.

With no monetary constraints, I go for the gold. Double U Burger with extra spread and extra pickles, onion rings, and a coke. This feast comes to a reasonable $8.50 ($7.50 for just a single).

"Cooked Medium Rare, please." I say. Now, a poster on chowhound recently reported that U Burger does not cook the burgers to order. But, written in huge chalk letters above the menu are the words, ALL BURGERS COOKED TO ORDER. Surely, this gent was just misinformed by a new employee. In fact, on a previous trip to U, while they were still in their soft opening, an employee had confirmed for me that they would cook my burger medium rare.

Register guy nodded, swiped my card, and handed me my receipt. As I waited, I noticed that the recent did not have any temperature indicator.

"Excuse me," I said. "You forgot to put in the medium rare part...will they get that back there?"

"Sorry. ALl our burgers are cooked to medium well"

"It says you cook them to order."

"We do. But they're all to the same temperature."

"Uh. That's not cooking to order, then."

"Yes it is. We cook them to order, just not to requested temperatures other than medium well."

I decide to turn on the snark to see if I can get anything accomplished.

"I don't want to eat a medium well hamburger."

"Trust me. It's good."

"No it's not. No one with any taste could possibly like a well done hamburger."

"Medium well"

"Come on, man. I want a nice juicy burger, not a dried out hockey puck."

"They're juicy."

"How are they juicy if they're well done? Why can't you just take mine off a couple minutes early."

"It gets too complicated if everybody gets to request a temperature. We need to cook them fast. It's a fast food model."

"I can get a medium rare burger at In 'n Out!" I am bluffing. I have no idea if you can or not.

"OK, let me see what I can do for you."

He goes to the back to talk to the cooks, but we all know what "let me see what I can do" means. It means kiss off.

So I get the burger and the rings. And it's good...but absolutely no pink at all...and I mean, MAN it could be great if it was a little bit less dry. As it is, you REALLY need the extra spread to make the burger work. The spread mixes with the griddle juices to create this yummy layer of moisture that compensates somewhat for the overcooking.

The onion rings are very good, if you like onion rings. They need to be salted, but they are light, crispy, and the batter is almost airy. However, they are not as good as the sublime fries, so unless you can get a 50/50, I recommend going with the latter.

I have to say, that while it is good, if UBurger does not correct this ridiculous and misguided policy, I will seek the majority of my burger fixes elsewhere. My current favorite is at Solas in Copley Square. Maybe they wil let me bring in an order of U Burger's awesome fries with me.

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  1. I agree completely with you. Medium rare is the way a burger should be cooked; medium at the very MOST.

    However, I see the "register guy's" point. You're not sitting at a pub or a restaurant ordering a burger that the chef (or sous chef) in the back is cooking. You're at a fast-food joint with a few guys pushing burgers out as fast as they can, and you're paying $8.25 for a burger, fries, and a soda.
    I've been to In N Out, and as I recall, they do not cook their burgers to order. They're still pretty darn tasty --for a fast food burger that is. And that's sort of how I feel about Uburger. Definitely at the top of its class for what it is: a fast food burger joint using the freshest ingredients, meat ground daily on premises. I don't expect the most delicious burger of my life when I walk in there, but I expect a pretty good burger delivered in minutes (with awesome fries.) And as long as I keep my expectations in line, I won't be disappointed.

    I understand your distress but I think you need to compare apples with apples. This isn't a Bartley's burger or an O'sullivan's burger or the Druid or where-ever folks might think Boston's best burgers reside. It's a fast food burger. Not quite as good as In N Out, but definitely very very close.

    (Oh, and btw, it was me --the poster who recently requested "medium rare" and was told all burgers were cooked to medium well...) Sort of a bummer, but i'm over it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: twentyoystahs

      That's certainly true,but these aren't thin fast food patties like Wendy's or Flat Patties or in an out. They're quarter inch thick burger patties that should be cooked medium at most.

      1. re: twentyoystahs

        Yeah, I, too, appreciate the point that UBurger is following a fast food model-- but in my book, $8.25 for a burger & fixings is enough to expect something at least a little beyond a typical fast food burger. (That is, costwise, it's not clear UBurger and In N Out are 'apples')

        As others have noted, the size of the UBurger patty can make it almost unpleasantly hard when cooked so much. So while it's true that In N Out also cooks their patties to a standard doneness, the two flat patties of a 2x2 are a totally different (and in my book, better) texture than the medium well UBurger patty... (not to mention cheaper)

        After giving them a couple tries, I've decided UBurger is currently caught in an awkward in-between model-- too expensive for me to want to put up with an overcooked patty, but not fancy enough to allow them to customize. (?? Though would it actually be that hard, I wonder?) It's too bad, cuz the fries and shakes are great.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. To be fair to Uburger, "cooked to order," linguistically speaking, does (or at least can legitimately be taken to) mean cooked fresh for you when you order it, versus cooked hours earlier and kept warm or reheated. Reading into it the meaning of "we'll cook it the way you like it" is a bit of a stretch, or at the very least a matter of interpretation.

          Believe me, I understand your desire for a medium rare patty, but you were being unduly rough on a minimum-wage zhlub who was just following company policy. Boycott them if you must, but don't give the poor clerk a hard time about it.

          5 Replies
          1. re: BobB

            I'm pretty sure the guy I was talking to was the owner/manager or a family member.

            1. re: BobB

              and, I wasn't a jerk. I didn't scream or yell or curse.

              1. re: tamerlanenj

                I back you 100%. If the transcript was to be believed, this guy didn't seem willing to go to any length to better explain the policy, he just seemed content to insist you were wrong. I would have taken things much worse than you did.

              2. re: BobB

                To remove all doubt they should change the sign to read "All burgers cooked fresh when ordered, please allow 10 - 15 minutes preperation time." or something like that. I think their sign is misleading.

                If you see a sign that said "eggs cooked to order" would you assume that they cook them any way they feel like when you ordered them, or would you assume you could order the style and temp (ie. over easy/over medium/over hard) that you want?

                I know I would assume you could pick the temp of your burger if it said "cooked to order". And would be pissed enough to walk out when they refused to do it the way I ordered it when they have a sign that says so.

                1. re: LStaff

                  I agree, the wording is ambiguous, but the comparison to eggs is inexact - it is common for fast food burgers to be precooked, and the sign is meant to differentiate Uburger from those places that do so, while it is much less common for eggs to be precooked, at least in places that specialize in eggs.

                  I see it as more along the lines of things like souffles on dessert menus, where they warn you that it's cooked to order so you don't expect it to appear instantly.

              3. Look, I guess what I was really thinking when I had my disagreement with the gentleman is that this is a new place just getting off the ground and they might actually CHANGE based on feedback.

                I don't know if they read CH or not, but when they first opened they had not combo meals. Several people said they should have combo meals to keep prices down. I imagine they got similar feedback in store. Now, they have combo meals.

                Believe me, I wouldn't be arguing at Wendy's or Applebees. I think this place has incredible potential and I'm just giving some insistent feedback.

                1. BobB is right about the phrase "cooked to order." It is ambiguous and one could defend the interpretation "cooked when you order" as effectively as "cooked to the temperature you prefer." Perhaps, in the context of a sort-of-fast-food joint, even more effectively.

                  That said, I think the counter guy should have skipped all the debate and gone right to "Let me see what I can do."