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Apr 19, 2007 07:09 PM

Upstate NY, probably somewhere around Syracuse - can you help me relocate the perfect burger and blackberry shake I had?

Here's an obscure - perhaps impossible - plea to upstate NY hounds.

A number of years ago I was driving my parents' car cross country, from Santa Monica, CA to New Haven, CT. I popped up to Toronto, then dipped back down into the states around Buffalo and continued east.

Somewhere on (or near) rte 90 between Rochester and Schenectady I had an amazing burger encounter. I've reminisced longingly about this burger for years, but I really can't recall exactly where the place was. Can you help me?

I remember I was on a 2-lane highway, so must've gotten off the main route to look for something to eat. On my right as I headed east I saw one of those old-fashioned portable flashing-arrow roadsigns, like so:

The lettering advertised "Blackberry shakes" and the arrow pointed to a pleasant-looking rural-ish strip-mall kind of a thing - a turn-off into a gravel lot that I remember was in a depression, such that as you turned off the road and into the lot you were going a little ways downhill. There were only three or four businesses in the lot, and I think the buildings were all made of wood. I'm pretty sure one of the shops sold mountain bikes.

I parked and I believe I climbed up some wooden steps to this burger place, where I proceeded to eat the Platonic ideal of a charbroiled baconburger, with a brilliant blackberry shake, sitting on their wooden deck in the sun. I can still see the glistening mahogany patty (I took off the top bun to look at it, because I had a feeling it was going to be special). Then I got back in my car and drove away - perhaps never to return.

That's all I can remember. And here's the other thing - although I'm pretty sure it was off of 90 between Rochester and Schenectady, I have a competing memory that at the time I found the place I was on route 9 or 9-H, which I believe would place me somewhere south of Albany. But it could be that I'm putting two memories together - the fact that I was on 9 at one point, and the fact that I found this burger place while I was upstate - that don't really go together.

Anyway, if any of these details - the gravel lot, the mountain bike shop, the wooden deck and the great burger and blackberry shake - set off any bells in anyone's head, PLEASE let me know. I'll be eternally grateful....

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  1. Sorry, I can't help you out.

    But I did want to reply, to let you know your story made me smile.
    I love little stories like this.
    Isn't it funny how these little things make such a strong impression on us? I have trouble remembering important things all the time, (birthdays etc) and yet can instantly recall odd little moments where the food, or scent, or the moment was just right.
    I have been searching for these little cookies my grandmother used to buy for me - 30 years ago. She used to take me to a large Polish ethnic market in Buffalo called the Broadway Market, and buy sausage, rye bread, and farmers butter. At the end of the trip she bought me these soft gingerbread cookies that were dipped in chocolate. They were about 2X3 inches, six to a little package, wrapped in clear brown cellophane and sealed with a paper ribbon that was stamped like a seal you find on wine bottles. They were imported from Poland. I can remember EVER LITTLE DETAIL about the package, and the scalloped edges on the cookie, and the way the chocolate was rippled rather than smooth... and yet I can't rembemer what I had for dinner two days ago...
    The cookie company is probably looooong gone, but that doesn't mean I don't stop at every Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, and Slavic ethnic market I pass, just to check in and see if they have those little brown cellophane packages!

    But I often think that I should stop thinking about it, and stop searching.
    What happens if I find those cookies, unwrap the package, and find them completely inedible? Or you track down that hamburger joint, make a point of going all out of your way, only to find they now use McDonald's-type frozen beef patties and discontinued their blackberry shake?
    Perhaps we should hold on to those happy memories, that brown cellophane, the glistening patty in the sun, and enjoy life one day at time, hoping that today, or tomorrow, there will be a new experience to relish for another 30 years.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jerryc123

      Thanks, jerryc. If I can't get information, I'll take commiseration over silence. I told my wife about posting this query and she reminded me that it was a black raspberry shake, not blackberry (she wasn't there but she's been listening to me talk about this burger for quite some time) - it's funny how I feel like my memory of those details is crystal clear but actually the story has changed a bit over the years as it's gone from a straight recollection to more of a myth.

      I stand by the wooden buildings though, and the deck, and the gravel lot. The mountain-bike shop could've been a motorcycle shop or an extreme-sports shop.

      I know it's crazy but I actually have a hope that someone will tell me where this place is. If not - you're right, the memory is a pleasure in itself.