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Pathetic state of burgers in Winston and Greensboro

  • r

The local restaurants seem to think that serving a frozen, dense packed, dry burger is what we should eat. They cook it to well done, and do not even attempt to brown the outside of the meat to develop the flavor. They may advertise Angus beef, but I believe this means nothing. It is the cuts of beef that are in the patty that matter most. The result is a burger that is not worth eating.
I believe a good burger should be made with freshly ground chuck or brisket, or sirloin, or a mixture of the cuts. The fat content should be about 20%. It should then be loosely formed (never packed), and formed to about 1 inch. Cooked on a very hot grill or flat top (500 degrees) it should be cooked on each side to develop the maximum Maillard reaction (Browning) and finished to no more than medium.
What is so hard about this?
The so called French fries are mostly a frozen product that is served when dry, tough, cold, and limp.

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  1. I hope someone can recommend a hidden gem that I haven't found yet. The best burger I've had since moving to the High Point area is at the Corner Grill (Lexington Ave, HPt). Basic place, but the burger was pretty good.

    1. I haven't had the burgers, but have tried other items at some the restaurants of the Quaintance Group. The lunch menu for Green Valley Grill shows a burger with local beef and hand-cut fries. I suspect Print Works Bistro and Lucky 32 would have similar offerings. Might be worth a try!

      1 Reply
      1. re: meatn3

        The Darn Good Burger at GVG is actually quite good. Worth a shot if you like it.

      2. I'm still pretty new to the area and was in total agreement with you until I tried the burger at West End Cafe a few days ago. I ordered it blackened (not usually my style) and it came out nicely charred and still juicy in the middle. Fries were nothing special...

        1. Try River Birch Lodge or Twin City Diner in Winston.

          1. I agree totally. I haven't yet been asked how I want my burger cooked, which is automatically a bad sign. I think this reports on the culinary scene in general. I've tried just about every restaurant in Winston at least and I haven't come away impressed by any of them.

            In Gboro, Table 16 impressed me most. I had their beef (not a burger) and it was nicely cooked. Print Works burger wasn't memorable for me.

            I thought Milners, Noble's and Willow's were decent, but nothing I'm dying to go back for. And for promoting "local and sustainable" food they use a lot of meat from factory farms. I simply don't like that false advertising.

            Am I wrong, or is there a place in Winston I am missing?

            2 Replies
            1. re: wreckers00

              The reason you haven't been asked how you want it cooked is that state health regulations require ground beef to be cooked to an internal temperature of 155 degrees, which means it is no longer pink. So, it really doesn't matter how you order it, its going to be cooked all the way through, if the restaurant is following the law. I have read that the state is considering relaxing this rule, however, so relief may be on the way.

              You might want to try Sweet Potatoes or River Birch Lodge, although I like Milners a lot, so I may not be the best source of information for you.

              1. re: carolinadawg

                Okay thanks for the recs and the info. Didn't know there was a law on the books.

                I do like Milners food actually. Just thought I've had better burgers. WIll have to try some more places

            2. where did you go there are plenty of good burgers you just need to tell them what you want. try milners, or river birch and ask them to cook them as light as possible. i have been able to order medium rare at most places with no problem also try harpers in greensboro.

              you didnt name names but where have you been so far?

              1. True about the 155 degrees, but I have found that restauramts that grind their own beef may be open to lighter cooking. That said, results have oftentimes been dissapointing. carolinadawg, where did you hear abut the possible changing of the law? I would be willing to start some sort of campaign just to be able to get a true medium rare burger without having to drive to SC or Va.

                6 Replies
                1. re: little debbie

                  The potential change to the state regulation was in the media last summer; an example:


                  Its a commonly held myth that if a restaurant grinds its own meat, it doesn't have to meet the 155 degree regulation, but anyone doing that is technically breaking the law in NC.

                  1. re: little debbie

                    you won't find it in SC...we have the same (egregious) law.

                    1. re: danna

                      Right. But you can get a cooked to order burger in SC if the meat is ground in-house.

                      1. re: danna

                        Thats not exactly correct. SC follows the same regulations that NC is considering adopting, which allows restaurants to serve ground beef at any temparature if the consumer is at least 18 years old and the restaurant provides some notice as to the danger of eating "undercooked" ground beef:


                        And it has nothing to do with whether the beef is ground in-house. Its a matter of the restaurant being wiling to serve it.

                        1. re: carolinadawg

                          Awesome news! I don't know when that exception was passed, but it has not always been the case. A rare triumph for liberty!

                          Sue is right, pretty much everybody in SC has been told the "grind your own" story. I'm not sure where that originates, but it's definitely "common knowledge". I'm thinking about printing out a copy of the exception and carrying it around with me. thanks for posting.

                          1. re: danna

                            I mean I had the burger at Husk in Charleston and the meat was pink in the middle. No way it was 155 degrees. That was a real good burger and not like the ones I've had in NC

                    2. There is a new place in Greensboro, Guy and Jerry's Burger Spot, 3750 Battleground Avenue. I haven't tried it yet, but my understanding is that it is the real deal. Might be worth a try.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: carolinadawg

                        Guy and Jerry's has a real hamburger. Excellent. I've never had a good burger at a upscale place. I hope Guy and Jerry's makes it. The previous 2 places in the same spot were very good, just a horrible location.

                        1. re: carolinadawg

                          Guy and Jerry's is excellent, as is Emma Kay's on Walker Avenue - service is a little laid back. Rixster's, in High Point, is very nice as well. NY Deli on Battleground serves a very nice burger. Some good ones around, but none match up with ones like Only Burger or Wimpy's in Durham, or the original Char-Grill in Raleigh.

                        2. Has anyone tried Emma Key's Flat Top Grill in Greensboro? http://www.emmakey.com/ It's rated well on Urbanspoon & Yelp... We tried Fincastle's a while back, and it was pretty good - I didn't ask if they would prepare it medium/medium rare because, well, I'm so used to not being able to get it that way in NC. May be worth it to ask.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: AmyInNC

                            Finnigans in Winston Salem and Milners will cook burgers to order. In fact, recently at Milners they had us sign a printed form stating that we understood we were getting a med rare burger!
                            Didn't mind at all.

                            1. re: jmurphy14

                              That's nice of them, but there is absolutely NO exception to the NCDHHS mandated temperature for ground meat. They could get fined or even temporarily closed for serving ground meat under 155F.

                              I don't mean this as an attack on you, just in case anyone reads this and gets the wrong idea. There have been all sorts of rumors and misconceptions about the rule over the years, even among restaurateurs who are supposed to read the codes and understand them.

                            2. re: AmyInNC

                              Emma Key's is my pick for the best burger in Greensboro. High quality meat, decently marbled, 1/3- 1/2 lb loosely packed, on a hot enough flat top to sear in more juiciness than the NC "medium or more" requirement typically permits. Brioche type bun, red onions instead of yellow, Hellman's instead of Dukes or no-name mayo, butter lettuce instead of iceburg. Much, much better than average grilled cheese and grilled pimento cheese. Meh breakfast sandwiches. Check out the spite fence that the pizza place next door put up. Surprisingly good shakes, with loss-leader quantities of Breyer's ice cream. Had to explain the whole concept of the black-and-white shake, though.

                              1. re: AmyInNC

                                Yes. Emma Keys is great. Parking looks like a challenge, but they rented spaces at the laundry space one block down, so just park there. Try the sweet potato fries and also the homemade pound cake heated on the grill with ice cream.

                              2. The Corner Cafe in High Point is best of all of the suggestion given in the replies. Great cheeseburger and fries. Rixters seems to be out of business, so I could not try them. Thanks for the recccomendations.

                                1. Here's a recent article from the Greensboro newspaper listing the top 10 burgers there: