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dicey eye

A Burger from Hell

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dicey eye

A Burger from Hell

Note: The following review was written several years go.  Haven't returned to see if the jalapeno burger has gotten spicier.

Being an advocate of open-mindedness and anti-habitual behavior patterns last week I chose to reevaluate one of my culinary aversions - hamburgers. 

Yes, the ubiquitous burger has been on my “don’t like” list for going on to 45 years.  Just find the combo of a quarter pound of ground beef, charbroiled with sautéed onions, mushrooms, gooey American and provolone cheese, mayo, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, and pickles served between two bulbous seeded buns kind of innocuous. The bland quotient is too featureless for my taste. My take on burgers is similar to what famous poet, novelist  and art patron Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, California: “There is no there, there.” In less arcane lingo, a burger is so insipid it lacks character; it relies to a great extent on the condiments for flavor. Don’t get me wrong burgers are not inherently bad tasting, just boring.

So Pip and I were in Phnom Penh last weekend and a teacher I’ve known for a couple of years called and asked if we could get together for lunch to meet his new common law wife. He has very conservative to the point of punctilious food likes. Not adventuresome, many dishes he won’t tolerate, so in deference to his fussiness I suggested we meet at Mike’s Burger to play it safe.   

Pip and I arrived 20 minutes early so had some time to check out the menu options and leisurely decide what we’ll try.  I was immediately charmed by the photo of their Jalapeno burger on the menu. The image of a ground beef patty smothered with a pile of piquant jalapeno slices and melted cheese oozing off the sides of the bun was mouth-watering. Pip chose the chicken nuggets.

Once Simon and his significant other arrived, we all ordered and sat down in one of the orange-ish Naugahyde booths. The décor is inspired by “greasy spoon” eateries very often found along interstate highways in the US. Guess you could call it faux greasy spoon chic.

Well, in a short time our orders arrived; they live up to the name fast food. Then reality hit. The mangy thing set in front of me looked nothing what-so-ever like the menu image. It was reminiscent of Clara Peller’s “where’s the beef?” ads for Wendy’s that were popular in the 80s. One big old, semi-stale bun hiding a pint-sized burger with no more than three jalapeno slices scattered on top with a miniscule dollop of half- melted cheese. Went up to the cashier three times for more jalapeno slices; they doled them out like they were made of gold. I was expecting a fiery taste treat; all I got was a stale bun with no fire inside at all. Awfully disappointing.  Then to top it all off the bill threw me for a loop! A whopping $16.60 for the two of us. Maybe for all you well-heeled foodies that doesn’t sound like much, but for my budget of $8 per day to feed the family of four three meals, it’s astronomical.  If the burger tasted half as good as it looked in its picture, I wouldn’t mind paying, but for that horrible thing foisted on me, it was insulting.

For the record, Simon also grumbled about the quality of the food in relation to its cost. He felt gyped too. And the same for Pip’s chicken nuggets. They were dry and virtually tasteless. Instantly forgettable.

Contrary to many internet critiques, I found Mike’s burgers substandard.  The cheeseburger I bought the next day at one of the street-side joints near the Old Market that cost $1.25 was much more assertive and palatable to my tastes.  From my experience Mike’s is extremely overrated.




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Dicey Eye, you should be a writer. I wish I could express my words like you, I enjoy reading your post. 

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