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Oct 7, 2009 09:04 PM

Donovan's Burgers Maddeningly Inconsistent

been a donovan's fan for many years, but find that their burgers are maddeningly inconsistent. sometimes it's the best burger i've ever had and sometimes is either forgettable or even subpar. and tonight the fries tasted like they were yesterday' potatoes quartered and then warmed up in the fryer to a soggy consistency. a bummer, of course, when i take a friend there to have the burger and it just doens't deliver. and i still haven't cracked the code of what day or what time of day yields the best results. used to think that it was best when the place was packed, but sometimes it's great when it's empty and sometimes it's not great when it's crowded. but it's never great on a consistent basis. what gives? is the grill station that dependent on who's working on a given day. arghh. i want a great burger whether it's sunday afternoon or thurs. nite. i've never been a big fan of the guiness at donovans either, and now i'm starting to think that the best burger and beer combo is at cronin and phelan's, at least if i want it to be consistently good.

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  1. From the times I've gone, I definitely think it's better when it's empty. They don't pay as close attention when crowded and I've gotten medium burgers when ordered medium-rare and I found that more so then with other places, the difference at Donovan's is huge, I love them but once they're cooked too much, there's nothing special to it.

    1. Tried Donovan's twice and twice the result s were disappointing. I suppose the term hockey puck pretty much captures the essential qualities. Since then I never could fathom the enthusiasm expressed by various posters on this board. The only possible explanation is as you suggest - wild inconsistency. So best of luck to the intrepid multitudes who won't be discouraged. I won't be going back.

      2 Replies
      1. re: burton

        and, just to let those hundred flowers bloom, i've been about 60 or 70 times or so times over the past 15 years and had three or four bad experiences. overcooked burgers all those times. yeah. that sucked. and if i'd had two straight downers at the onset i might never have gone back -- there's no reason to keep doing something you don't enjoy -- but i've found donovan's to be about the most consistently good queens place, aside from piccola venezia, that i have been.

        1. re: burton

          yeah, I assume overcooked because when I get the burger they're known for, while the outside may have a nice char, soon as I bite into it so much juice comes out I usually burn my hand and I find the burger to be one of the less dense ones, a large mound of loosely packed juicy beef that crumbles apart, it's juices obliterating the bun in seconds. If you ordered medium-rare and got a hockey puck, I'd send it back.

        2. I hope someone at DONOVAN'S checks out this website.
          Inconsistent complaints enough to sink even a TITANIC place. See Mina's problems.

          I also have had a serious burger malfunction for the ages at DONOVAN'S - I think the waitress was trying cryptically to dissuade me from ordering it (maybe chef not in house or whatever?) but it was absolute vile. It is only because of the general excellence that I still go there. With so many great options near there they cannot afford even the remotest reputation for inconsistency.

          The good news is that the GUINNESS is always the greatest.

          3 Replies
          1. re: micheal

            General excellence?
            Everything I've had there aside from the burger has been pretty awful.

            The burger is sublime 20% of the time, average 70% and awful 10%.
            I live in the hood so that 20% and cheap price (thank god it's not a $12 burger) sucks me in for the gamble.

            In case the management is reading this, please fix that soggy bun while you're at it.

            1. re: Joe MacBu

              My numbers are similar for Donovan's, but I put it at 70% sublime, 20% average, and 10% bad experiences. Still worth the price for my 70% probability of getting something really good. Come to think of it, those numbers are similar to my experiences at Sripraphai.

              1. re: Joe MacBu

                Re: the soggy bun.

                There are 2 things you can do to minimize this. First, ask for mayo on the bottom between the burger and the bun. Because mayo is an oily emulsion it will provide a bit of a barrier between the juices from the burger and the bun.

                The second thing you can do is allow the burger to rest before you bite into it. Start by eating some of those fries and after a few minutes or so start the burger. By letting the burger rest it will retain more of its juices and spill out less onto your bun.

            2. It's not the same since Joe sold it. In Bayside they removed the broilers and when they replace them they cant get the consistency that they used to have. Oh the good ole days!

              4 Replies
              1. re: FastFoodEddie

                When was it sold? I used to go there, but hadn't been for a couple years. I brought my parents there about 2 weeks ago, and it was a disaster. I always loved their burgers--this one, literally, turned my stomach. I couldn't even eat it. The waitress was surprisingly surly, as well.

                1. re: tgatta

                  Donovans of Bayside was sold a few years ago - maybe 3 or 4? It's nothing like the old Donovan's of Bayside, and not even remotely close to Woodside. They're not the same owners (and weren't for years before the reno, either), and nothing alike.

                  That said, I've never liked the fries at either Donovan's, but I've never had a bad burger at either.

                  1. re: irishnyc

                    yeah, the fries have always been passable, no more. but with such a substantial burger, i don't need more than a few to round out the meal -- especially if a guinness is in the cards

                    1. re: david sprague

                      My drink of choice lately is a Magners. said "Magnehs"

                      Last time I went, it was with a lady friend. I raved that my fav burger was here. she ordered medium, I medium-rare. neither had the spark, and I was too smitten to enlighten her about the delight of burger blood.