Originally created 09/23/04

Taste testers fail to find the perfect hamburger



The food industry is saturated with national fast food chains serving hamburgers and cheeseburgers all day long. We wanted to visit some locally owned restaurants that serve hamburgers to see how well they'd fare.

Our taste testers this month were workers at Care Management Consultants in Augusta who visit burger bistros so often for lunch that they refer to themselves as the "Burger Buddies."

Our testers were Pamela Navarro and Jean Camp, both of Martinez, and Shirley Holloway, of Hephzibah. Here are the results:

Rhinehart's Oyster Bar

3051 Washington Road

Because it was her first visit, Mrs. Navarro said, she was confused about how to reach the seating area when walking in and was surprised at the staffers sitting at the bar looking at her without saying anything.

"I didn't like that no one helped, no one even bothered showing me where to go," she said.

Mrs. Camp waited excitedly for the order because "their burgers are always excellent," she said. However, when the cheeseburger arrived, she was a little let down.

"This is good, but it's not their usual burger. I'm a little disappointed," she said.

Mrs. Holloway said there was "nothing really special" about the burger.

"It's about tied with Craig's," she said. "But I'd come back to try their seafood."

"I'd come for the seafood, too. But I might try the burger again," Mrs. Navarro said.

"Well, I'm surprised; I know they have excellent burgers," Mrs. Camp said. "I would come back for it. They must just be having an off day."

Gary's Hamburgers

410 Georgia Ave., North Augusta

Upon entering, Mrs. Holloway found the inside a little dark. She noted that all the tables were dirty - including the one she and Mrs. Navarro cleaned off before seating themselves - but gave the place the benefit of the doubt, citing the large lunch crowd that moved in and out.

Both agreed that the lettuce and tomatoes were crisp and fresh but that their cheeseburger lacked seasoning.

"It tastes like a typical fast-food burger; it's pretty dry," Mrs. Holloway said.

"The meat is bland, but the toppings are very fresh, very good, and the bread is soft," Mrs. Navarro said. "I'm more excited about everything surrounding the meat, and I think that says a lot."

Sports Center

594 Broad St.

Sitting up front near the window, Mrs. Holloway said, the interior of the pool hall, bar and pub was brighter, but "definitely not a place to bring your family."

The women thought it took rather long for their cheeseburger and homemade onion rings to be ready, but after one bite into the burger, Mrs. Holloway had no complaints.

"This is good," she said. "It's juicy, well-seasoned. Well worth the wait."

"It has a little less toppings than the last place, but it tastes better. It's very good," Mrs. Navarro said. "A little greasy, but very good. You get a lot for your money. And I don't know of many places that hand-make their onion rings."

Mrs. Holloway liked the friendly service but said she was bothered by the cook's lack of a hairnet. She also found the burger to be "big and inexpensive."

"It's a good place to come for burgers to get them to go," Mrs. Navarro said.

Craig's Place Catering and Restaurant

2706 Milledgeville Road

With no door closing off the kitchen area from the ordering counter, Mrs. Camp said the sounds of staff chattering made it "very noisy for such a small place."

She found the cheeseburger rather tasty, however.

"Now, this is good. I like it," she said. "And the tomatoes are fresh and bright red. That's rare for this time of year."

Mrs. Navarro and Mrs. Holloway, on the other hand, were not as impressed.

"It's not bad. It's just OK," Mrs. Holloway said. "It doesn't make me want to rush to come back."

"It's not terrible, the bread is soft and the meat is pretty good," Mrs. Navarro said.

Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or samantha.mckevie@augustachronicle.com.

TASTE TEST

Is Thai food your favorite? If you like eating Thai food and would like to be a taste-tester, tell us why in 25 words or less. We'll treat you to a tour of some Thai restaurants. Send your entries to samantha.mckevie@augustachronicle.com, or mail an entry to C. Samantha McKevie, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Send your entry by Friday, Oct. 8.



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