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by Richard Ross
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Let's take a look at an all-American classic: the hamburger. According to Wikipedia, the hamburger is: �a product of the culinary needs of a society that was rapidly changing due to industrialization.   Personally, I'd prefer a more pragmatic approach.

A burger is a very personal thing. Everyone has a list of criteria that should be met if a particular example is to qualify as a favorite, and almost everyone has a burger on their menu.  I have located three restaurants  -- so far anyway -- that deserve mention for their contributions.  

The first is Bistro One West, located at 1 Illinois Street  in St. Charles.  I have had several meals there and have never had either bad service or a meal that I would classify as sub-par.  I love the place.  But the menu had a burger special that I had always wanted to try.  And try it I finally did.  It's listed on the lunch menu as a: "Strube Ranch Half-Pound Burger, Onion Roll, Hook's Creamery Aged Cheddar."  At $12.95, some might consider it a bit on the pricy side (although I think it's also found on the bar menu in a bit less-expensive version).  But I gotta say that it was prepared to perfection and the flavor was exquisite; I'd go back and order it again in a New York minute.  The cheese was creamy with a hint of tanginess and the juice oozed out from the bun as soon as my teeth started to bite.  The parsnip chips as an accompaniment really hit the spot -- they should offer them for sale at local markets, because they are that good.  I wouldn't attempt to quantify its ranking, but it was definitely one of the best burgers I have had!   Great burger, great atmosphere and very good service.

My second restaurant choice is located  at 17 West State Street in Geneva: FoxFire.  Interestingly, it has a similar "bricks-and-wood beams" feel to that of Bistro One.  They are totally different restaurants, but the buildings are from a similar time period and I love the ambience that seeps from the walls.  I found out that FoxFire offers a Monday night burger special.   The website states "Burger Monday -- All Day Every Monday a 1/2 Lbs Burger with sides for only $5! Enjoy it with a pint of Bell's on draft for $3."  Now that had to be worth a try!  We had some business to discuss one night and our guests wanted to sample the special at FoxFire.  Turns out that not only was it a great deal, but a great burger as well.  The cheese and onion were extra, but heck... it was still a great meal at a very decent price!  WE added a glass of wine and it turned out to be a perfect evening.  I'll likely be back to sample some of the other interesting items on the menu.

The third candidate -- newly opened Lodge on the Fox, at 35 North Water Street in Batavia -- offers a menu that is both family and wallet friendly: the majority of items, except the apps and some entrees, come in at $7.99.  And among them are half-pound burgers.  We stopped in on a not-so-busy Tuesday night...  Our waiter was dressed professionally and was attentive and helpful.  We ordered an appetizer of  Corn Fritters; I got the Bacon Blue Burger (ground chuck burger topped with bacon and blue cheese).  Served on a pretzel roll, the burger was hand-made and the flavor was very good.  Opportunities at The Lodge include making smaller Fritters (ours were huge and still had some uncooked dough in the center) and lowering the lights a bit in the dining room -- it was really bright.  Positives included an excellent and very fresh spring-mix salad with very good home-made garlic dressing, great service and great prices.  To his credit, by the way, the chef did come out and apologize for the Fritters, offering us a complimentary dessert.  That is always appreciated.

I'm still burger-hunting, but in the meantime I'm also searching for other local restaurants where the comfort zone is wide, the food and service are worth talking about and the prices won't break the bank.  In the meantime, if you have any suggestions, let me know and I'll give them a try and add a few lines here.  As Julia always used to say: Bon Appetit!







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