No ground beef in a bun is worth waiting in that kind of line, unless the burger is served to me personally by Benedict Cumberbatch in full Doctor Strange costume. Go ahead, say it’s just sour pickles on my part because the Queen City beat out Raleigh for the coveted first North Carolina franchise (although we do have the other burger mania, Hamburgers, which just opened in downtown Raleigh last week).
When I was a kid in Winston-Salem, Harder’s was the place to go for burgers, not the neighborhood five-and-dime’s lunch counter or even our own backyard. The novelty of going out in the car, walking up to an orange counter and leaving with an oil-spotted paper bag was irresistible.
In a precursor to the eat-local movement, my mother insisted on Harder’s because it was a North Carolina company. My mother didn’t care where her apples, lettuce or meat came from, but as to fast food and spicy condiments, she had definite opinions.
Harder’s was for losers; that became as clear to me as it was that the guys hanging out behind the school auditorium were not smoking Camels. Big progress in burger technology: square ground beef in a bun.
The next national trend about ground beef in a bun keeps coming along: Hamburger, Five Guys, Cook Out. I have waited in lines for the new and greasy: in high school, for something called an Ollie burger, which friends said was the burger of the moment; and at the first Wendy’s in the small town where I had my first job, watching male co-workers see who could consume the most Triples.
Before too long, the Next Big Burger, which today is just a gleam in a businessperson’s eye, will burst onto the scene. If you’re a famous actor, like Mark Wahlberg, perhaps you could get away with the self-indulgence of calling a pop-up Hamburgers, on the condition that it raised money for local charities.
Weinberg, the actor, model, Mary Mark, the guy from The Departed and Three Kings, the celebrity whose life provided the inspiration for the celebrity-mocking drama, Entourage, produced by Mark Wahlberg, has an international burger chain called Hamburgers. The first branch outside North America has opened in Convent Garden, and, apparently, there are plans for 15 more in the UK.
The site was under wraps for so long that I wondered if Mark Wahlberg was making it himself, hod to his shoulder, Black and Decker in hand, plastering for the half-hour per day permitted by his infamous daily routine. They made a reality show about running the restaurant, called Hamburgers, of which there have so far been 86 episodes.
Are there really people who loved Mark Wahlberg’s performance in Boogie Nights so much that they would pay to eat his meat? But I am confident nobody who saw his turn as Made Yeager in Transformers: Age of Extinction would have felt moved to buy a chicken salad off him.
Weinberg’s long year of painting and decorating has wrought at a bright two-story space opposite Convent Garden tube station. Rather than a master d’ there is a gift shop, where you can buy “Where”, T-shirts saying things such as “MOM’S FAVORITE”.
Perhaps the idea is that you have longer to admire the decor: green chairs and posters of Weinberg films. The menu consists of burgers, sandwiches, salads and sides, with milkshakes, soft drinks and booze to wash it down.
It boasts that its burgers are a “signature blend of short rib, brisket and chuck”. In fact, as with Mar mite, the ideal amount of Hamburger would be the smallest measurable quantity.
The “Our Burger” I was presented with, “Paul’s Choice”, was a dry, salty puck of spam-coloured mystery meat, the color of sunburned English flesh, between a bun that flaked and crumbled in my fist, with a single lonely slice of tomato and a little flap of lettuce. “Mark’s Choice”, the “Thanksgiving Turkey Burger”, presumably because the leaner meat suits his regime better, was not much to be grateful for.
The “Original Melt”, sadly not named as a Love Island tie-in, was slightly better, a burger wedged between two slices of fried bread with cheese, onions, bacon, pickles and “mustard sauce”, tasty in a “how much lard can I fit in one hand” kind of way, but really if you can’t make that list of ingredients at least edible, what business do you have in opening a restaurant? Even by Hollywood standards, it is the height of narcissism to open a chain of average fast-food restaurants dedicated to your own celebrity.
If more proof were needed that the family has a compulsive addiction to puns on their own name, there is a list of cocktails called “Wahlcoctions”, sickly-sweet, fruity sounding drinks. The only hope is that Weinberg’s fame is less potent in the UK than in the US, where he and his brothers represent a kind of tough-talking Irish-catholic Bostonian archetype that hardly exists anymore.
No need to worry about the Hemsworth, or Type and Tim Day, or what’s left of the Barrymore's. When I say Camelot, I am referring to that other great dynasty, the Boston brawlers-turned-Hollywood hitmakers named Weinberg.
But then they went back to the States, opening in Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach, and our very own New York City. Everything was going smoothly, with plans to have two dozen or more Hamburgers fooleries opening in the coming years.
Page Six reported on Saturday that two of the Hamburgers locations in New York City are having some trouble. The Coney Island joint has shut down, though the company says it intends to reopen it.
And a planned Times Square-adjacent location, on 8th Avenue, has never opened, despite taking over the lease in 2015. The same franchise group was in the process of developing a space in Times Square.
In both cases the franchisee was not operating in compliance with Hamburgers business practices and brand standards.” So it’s not corporate’s fault, and the closure is just an effort to get the Coney Island Hamburgers back on track.
Continued: “Ownership is in the process of restructuring their business and bringing in new management to ensure that Hamburgers Coney Island maintains the brand’s values and high criteria as both a restaurant and a workplace. We are committed to the revitalization of Coney Island and reopening there, in addition to bringing Hamburgers to Times Square, when we’re confident the leadership, staff, and resources are in place to uphold Hamburgers commitment to excellence in all regards.
You think Shake Shack didn’t abruptly close a location and then never open another one and maybe not pay months’ worth of rent when it was getting off the ground? And you’d better believe that they can easily add “opened successful hamburger restaurant chain” to that list of achievements, even if there are some minor setbacks on the path to victory.
The blood pumping in their veins not blue, but instead the deep, rich red of hamburger juices. In case you don’t know (and I congratulate you) after the hype onslaught, Hamburgers is a hamburger chain that originated in Gingham, Massachusetts, just outside Boston.
The three-story premises, across Still well Avenue from Nathan’s, include a main floor dining room and crowded open kitchen, a basement dining room, and a rooftop deck with views of the ocean that is not yet open. The menu details a fascinating mix of items, reflecting a Boston perspective on fast food.
Then there is a section devoted to three green salads, including a Caesar that warns that the dressing is made with raw egg yolks. The signature burger (also characterized as “Paul’s Choice”) was a third-pounder on a conventional bun with raw onions, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, and so-called “government cheese,” which seemed to be American and melted nicely over the patty like a gooey skullcap.
While the menu boasts that all burgers are cooked medium unless otherwise requested, this one came out well-done, and was consequently dry and slightly crumbly. As with the Five Guys chain, with which Hamburgers certainly hopes to compete, the patty itself was the least interesting part of the ensemble.
The burger costs $7.15 before tax, which is considerably more expensive than Five Guys’, although the meat patty is 32 percent larger. Robert Siesta The burger called Thanksgiving Day commanded a premium price of $8.25.
Supposing that the crookedness of the premises diminishes, it could be the thing to get from Hamburgers during your Coney Island visit next summer. Unfortunately, aside from shots of Paul and Donnie eating hot dogs at Nathan’s, and multiple scenes of Mark and Donnie humiliating the shorter and shyer Paul, the episode says very little concerning the chain or our branch of it, apart from a scene on the roof of the restaurant during a trumped-up and totally premature grand opening.