Culvers: Minnesota and Wisconsin hamburger and custard chain
how would you rate the food and the custard. it seems to be pretty popular.
Generally, their food is good and the stores are pleasant. People are nice too, in my experience (stores in Indiana and Michigan). Oddly, to me the butterburgers themselves, while OK, are not so special compared with other good chains (5 Guys, In-N-Out), and their cheese curds are not as good as A&W's in my opinion. But overall, they are a good place to stop.
Excellent. Went to one in Colllinsville, IL on Friday night while driving from Detroit to San Diego. Top chain burger on the trip. 2nd best overall. (Went to Crazy Jim's Blimpy Burgers in Ann Arbor and it is the best, but not a chain...)
Moist, flavorful, fresh toppings, toasted buttered bun.
above average burgers, and other items. I also think the deep fried cheese curds are decent.
Not great, but not bad for a fast food chain.
I had a buy one get one free coupon for a cheeseburger. I used it in a pinch one evening when I was just in a hurry. It tasted like they coated it in salt before they cooked it. If you could get through the incredible amount of sodium, there seemed to be an ok flavored meat patty there, somewhere. I couldn't. Only time I tried one.
i also tried a culver's cheeseburger one time prior to a camping trip when there was no other food option. i thought it sucked a little less than a mcD's, but lots of people think culver's is great. i pretty much categorically don't eat fast food except when there is no other option, so my viewpoint may be skewed. or maybe that one cheeseburger wasn't stellar. i may never know. . .
Vastly overrated. I am somewhat biased though as I firmly believe burgers in general should be thick, with some pink and juice. I know there is a whole genre of burgers, in which Culvers resides, that are pressed thin on a griddle, have a larger circumference and are brown through-and-through with crispy edges. No thanks.
In find that the flatter, more well-done method destroys the flavor of even high-quality ground beef, but then when you throw in the mid-grade stuff Culvers uses, the burger patty ends up fairly tasteless. I want a great tasting patty first, surrounded in a high-quality, fresh bun (not Culvers) and then accented with good cheese (if a cheeseburger) and other condiments, etc.
The custard is, in my opinion, the obvious highlight of Culvers aside from the ownership and cleanliness which, in my area (MSP) as well as those I've visited outstate and across the central midwest are generally excellent. But again, I strongly prefer hard-packed ice cream and gelato to custard, so I have a bias. I also have the luxury of somewhat frequent visits to local, independent custard shops and those in neighboring Wisconsin.
Again, different style of burger and not drive-through/fast food, but I much prefer burgers from Red Robin and Fuddruckers, and I would even rather have a Wendy's burger personally. Side by side at a rest area, I would choose McDonald's for the food (not the ice cream). At least I can get a decent salad (the salads, which I've had dozens of times at Culvers, are mediocre as well). All of that is if I have to go to a chain.
Depending on the region, Culvers has a ton of other menu options ranging from fried fish to pot roast to soups/chilis etc. What I've sampled has all been marginal to poor. Example was last night's "pot roast sandwich" which was a convenience store grade bun with dried up, shredded beef (stringy like pulled pork). Nothing else. No sauce, no juice, no nothing. Bun and meat.
At this point, you may be asking why I go to Culvers (or have gone there so many times in the past). I am too kind of. The main reason is the local one puts on nights where 15% of the proceeds go to my son's school (last night was the night), which I find very generous (again, great owners). For a few years, when I biked in to work, it was also the only restaurant within reasonable walking distance from my office. Finally, when I'm on the road and wanting a treat, the custard fills the bill nicely.