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Mar 4, 2010 07:08 PM

Cambridge Common - Wow, what a terrible hamburger.

So I stopped into Cambridge Common this evening because they had a couple beers on tap that I've been wanting to try. Despite pretty lousy past experiences with food from the Christophers/Cambridge Common food, I somehow convinced myself to try their burger. Ordered a quarter-pounder (because I have a predilection for smaller, fast-food style burgers) medium-rare. Now, i realize that medium-rare on a small burger is probably not realistic (though it is achievable--I pull it off at home). But at places like Flat Patties they manage to keep some pink and plenty of moisture in thin burgers.

My burger arrived thin, gray and very dry. The patty was utterly devoid of any beef flavor, juice or fat. it was totally overwhelmed by a too-large, dry, slightly stale and cool bun. The burger had all the taste and appeal of a high-school cafeteria lunch. The cheese was the wrong variety (requested American, got cheddar), the rabbit food (lettuce/tomato/onion) fairly pallid. The only saving graces were decent homemade pickle slices and food service-grade curly fries that were competently fried.

I smothered the thing in ketchup and mustard, ate about half, and gave up.

I can't believe that people eat at this place.

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  1. As far as I know, people get beer and tater tots at Cambridge Common. Those are certainly the only decent things I've ever gotten there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

      Well, I know that's all I'll ever order in the future. A look around my neighbors at the bar, however, indicated that lots of folks eat full meals there.

    2. I get the burger everytime I eat there and its always bangin'. Quarter lb. burger - is that an option that's different than their regular burgers? I always get the English burger or whatever its called and its never thin, dry, or devoid of flavor - in fact, its always the opposite of that. Maybe you just ordered the wrong burger? Hardly a reason to call out people who eat there.

      11 Replies
      1. re: LStaff

        Not my intention to call anyone out, perhaps I got a little worked up in my rhetoric. My concern is with the terrible hamburger I was served, and trying to advise other 'hounds against it. Others can continue to spend their money on whatever they like. As for ordering the "wrong burger"... they have a 1/4 pound and 1/2 pound burger on the menu. I don't like half pound burgers, and it doesn't make sense to me that one should be great and the other terrible. Your experience was your experience, I'm just reporting mine. Maybe it's just wild inconsistency. For what it's worth, I also found the veggie burger at Christopher's (owned by the same people) to be astonishingly bad.

        1. re: celeriac

          I'm in the tater tots and beer camp for Cambridge Common, but the homemade veggie burger (not the other one) at Christopher's is one of my favorite in the area.

          1. re: soxchik

            I recently tried the infamous veggie burger at Christophers and was not blown away. The burger itself was fine, had some good flavors, the pesto that came on it was kind of dry and didn't really jive with the flavors, as much as I love pesto, and finally, the bun really ruined it for me. The bun was heavy and dry and looked like something you'd get on an airplane. Especially when placed around a very starchy burger, it was almost impossible to eat, I ended up avoiding most of the bun. The salad and fries were fine but the pickle was really salty and not great.
            On another note, the week prior I tried the veggie burger at the Independent in Union sq which I thought was really impressive. Really big, lots of great veggie flavors, bites of whole chickpeas, and then lightly fried to get a really crispy outside. The bun worked well and the side salad I got was really nicely dressed. I'm no expert but of the two I found the Independent to be a much better option.

            1. re: shellicopter

              Agreed, I had the Christopher's veggie burger the other day and thought it was dry. Still better than most, to be fair.

              I go to Cambridge Common a fair amount as the beer is great and reasonably priced. For bar food, I think buffalo tenders are good, but the portion is small for the money. The nachos are under-topped, but if you can get them to make you chili nachos it can be pretty good. The mashed potatoes are just how I like them. Their new Cubano is better than many (if not the place across the street) and a generous portion for ~$7. Subbed with mashed potato rather than fries, it's a fine way to bring on a food coma. I have had perfectly serviceable burgers there, nothing outstanding.

              1. re: chickendhansak

                The beer pricing is funny. They have a lot of stuff there that seems cheaper than other bars w/ good beer selections (I'm looking at you, Bukowski!) but some of their stuff is *way* overpriced. You have to pay attention to what you're ordering.

                1. re: jgg13

                  I think that's a fair comment. But the bottom end of their prices is very reasonable for the quality, and I guess that's what I'm getting at. It's by no means a place where every craft brew starts at $6+, even $5+.

                  1. re: chickendhansak

                    Agreed. I got into an argument w/ someone not too long ago (it might have been you, actually) that opened my eyes about the prices the next time I went over there. It seems that my go-tos tended towards their overpriced beers. Doh!

                    They have a bunch of stuff around $5

                    1. re: chickendhansak

                      ...and they got rid of their cheater pint glasses. And I believe (but not sure) that they include tax in those prices (unlike Redbones). But yeah, just like any other place, you have to know what you are buying in order to not get ripped off - or to find the best deal.

                      1. re: LStaff

                        FWIW I also heard them claim that they were serving things at the proper temps but I haven't noticed that.

                        1. re: LStaff

                          All pint glasses are a cheat when you're used to 20oz. ;)

                          1. re: chickendhansak

                            ...and since the regular pint glass found in most bars only holds about 12-14 ozs with a little head. To get 16 oz., it has to filled nearly to the brim.

          2. I think that it is pretty far from being a dining destination (I even attend some of their beer pairing dinners and almost always and pretty underwhelmed with the food portion - which in theory would be better than their normal fare), but I will say that the one time I had a burger there it was pretty good. Not mind blowing or anything, but decent enough that I'd have it again if I ended up there and was really hungry. I had the jerk burger med rare ... it was by no means "jerk", I have no idea why they call it that, but it was pretty tasty and cooked a nice medium rare (more on the rare side, exactly how I like it). I'll admit that I was famished that night so most things would have tasted good at that point.

            1. Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience! I've had the (half-pound) burger there a few times and while it's certainly not top tier, I tend to think it's a solid burger - I've certainly never had it as bad as you did. In any case, I generally get appetizers there - the fried pickles and buffalo wings are both excellent, in my opinion at least.

              1. I haven't eaten there in years, so the menu has probably changed, but when I used to go more often, they had a regular burger and a "black angus" burger, and there was a huge difference in quality.