Blessed be the burger


We’ve all heard the food snobs lament: The average American wouldn’t know a fine cheese from a spray can or gourmet fare from a frozen dinner. That may be the case in other hick towns, but Restaurantarama knows that many of you here did NOT just fall off the Sysco truck. You have the kind of palates and appreciation for food preparation that would make Epicurus proud, and the evidence is in the success of some pretty sophisticated local dining spots. Plus, we probably all can agree there is at least one quintessential American dish in which all of us—gourmand and simpleton alike—can take pride. That, of course, is the burger.

Argue all you want about the origins of ground meat in a round bun, but the truth is that burgers today are synonymous with the United States. And we’re happy to report that a new local restaurant is giving the American burger all the gourmet glory it deserves. As we told you a few weeks ago, John Adamson and Andrew Watson, the team behind Charlottesville’s Mellow Mushroom, took over the Orbit Billiards space on the Corner and are opening a burger joint in its place. It will be called, appropriately enough, the Burger Joint. (Or at least we think that’s what it will be called—Adamson tells us that the name may change.) This place will offer three or four different bun options and a choice of six or seven cheeses and 30-40 toppings, including such outside-the-box additions as pineapple and sun-dried tomatoes. Dudes, that’s far out, no? As for the main event, you’ll get a choice of beef, veggie burger, turkey burger or chicken breast.

Meat in the Corner pocket: This space on the Corner, once occupied by
Orbit Billiards, will soon be home to the tentatively named Burger Joint.

“We’re going to do as much local as we can,” says Adamson, who’s enlisted the help of Albemarle Baking Company for the buns and says that nothing will ever be frozen. “The veggie burger won’t be off the Sysco truck.”

We’re already fantasizing about the crazy concoctions we’ll order, but you purists can still get typical toppings if that’s your style, as well as the usual suspects of side dishes: French fries, onions rings and, oh Lord yes, milkshakes.

Formwork Design, the architecture firm behind the über-hip Blue Light Grill and Ten, is helping to create the new space, which will be cool enough for the classed up cuisine but casual enough for those who just want to enjoy a good hunk of meat and dip their fries in their chocolate shakes without getting funny looks from their fellow diners.
As for other entertainment, Orbit’s music stage has moved upstairs and all but one or so pool tables are gone, but look for other retro parlor games (shuffleboard!) to take their places.

Adamson tells us the downstairs bar and seating area will open around August 1, with the upstairs lounge and bar to follow a few weeks later.

Más Mexico

Listen up, fajita fans: Aqui es Mexico will soon double in size. In an apparent attempt to beat its second place finish to Guadalajara in last year’s Best of C-VILLE race for south of the border-based chow, the restaurant is getting aggressive and taking over the space next door to its tiny Carlton Road locale (currently the location of Pay Day USA). The expansion will double the restaurant’s capacity from 40 seats to over 80. The Aqui es folks tell us that they’ll keep their current location as the kitchen and restaurant office, and that they expect to unveil the nuevo dining room over Labor Day weekend. O.K., so the expansion may have little to do with us, but we’re excited for more enchilada elbow room all the same. Meanwhile, the Pantops outpost of Guadalajara, the fourth location in the Guad empire, which has been “coming soon” for over almost a year now, has finally opened its puertas. Hmm, just in time for the 2008 Best of C-VILLE contest…

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