Saturday, December 15, 2007

A little place called Beef Burger (that begins as a philosophical treatise on mayonnaise)

My recent foray into the world of bottled sauces had me rummaging through my refrigerator in search of the seven or eight bottles of The Boar and Castle sauce that I routinely keep on hand. If you are an educated sandwich eating man or woman and you have been raised on ketchup and mustard then the natural intelligent progression of your tastes over the years will someday lead you to a stock pile of various bottled sauces and spreads cluttering your icebox. And you will have found that you put them on everything. Or maybe I am just projecting. Here’s a sampling from my collection. Pretty damn boring actually:

French’s Mustard. I have never strayed very far into the fancy mustard realm; it’s like a dainty forest that you come upon on the French countryside after a day of touring in your Austin Healy and once entered it smells like poop. I am not saying that I have never used Dijon; I’ll use it, but if I had my druthers I’d stick with the bright yellow redneck variety.
Best Foods Mayonnaise. I recommend eating at least half a cup daily either straight from the jar or on top of something or mixed into something. I do and I plan to live to one hundred.
Bulldog Tonkatsu Sauce (sadly not pictured). This sauce pours like an oil slick. I distant cousin from the far east of A-1 Sauce, Tonkatsu is good on chicken and croquettes. I recommend keeping water nearby to keep things from getting gummed up in your food tube.
Carolina Treet BBQ Sauce. First it’s important to notice that they do not actually use the world “treat” on the bottle because that would be false advertising. This crap was made in Wilmington NC; what the hell do those fools at the coast know about bbq??!! They should stick to their fried flounder. It’s thick. A day after I opened the bottle I returned to find the sauce bubbling in the bottle like molten lava. I’d still use it in a pinch. Yes if I had nothing else and someone brought over ribs I would use it. Maybe.
Beef Burger Special Sauce. And now we come to the crux of our little talk today kids. Notice the crude labeling; you know that means it’s good. Once again I am about to wax nostalgic so either get on or get out. Beef Burger just may well be the all time greatest hamburger joint in the entire world and you can take your deconstructed Kobe beef fancy pickle fancy bun big city bullshit and stuff it in my grandma’s toilet in the water closet out back. This is why this country is fucked up: people will actually pay hundreds of dollars for a burger. Foie Gras on my hamburger; shavings of Oregon Truffles: you know what?? Get your metrosexual hamburger the fuck out of here!!!! Give me a Double Meat Super Cheese from Beef Burger on Lee Street in Greensboro NC. The last time I was in town I had one and I savored every last bite. They have a new sign on the door which states: If you’re drunk, don’t come in here. I did anyway but I was very well behaved. Listen, throw me out of any bar; throw me in jail. Just don’t throw me out of Beef Burger. A little history is called for.
Originally Named Biff Burger, Beef Burger is one of the last two operating franchises of a popular Drive-in Hamburger Restaurant that was founded in Florida in the mid-50’s, thrived up and down the east coast through the 60’s, and under somewhat mysterious circumstances came to financial ruin in the mid 70’s. Notable for their unique architectural design utilizing dramatic angles for the buildings themselves and brightly colored triangles and towering glowing stars on their signs, after the parent company disappeared in 1975-1976 one by one the beautiful Biff Burger Drive-ins were torn down in favor of Taco Bells and Burger Kings. In fact, Burger King gobbled up some of the old Biff sites and turned them into their own Whopper outlets. As an aside, has anyone seen the recent Burger King commercials where they secretly tape customer’s reactions when they are informed, as a gag, that the Whopper is no longer on the menu? What? Like they think that people are going to collapse from the shock? I’d be like, ok whatever give me another one of your crappy burgers. One thing I like about the whopper is that you can get one with three beef patties. No shame, there is no shame. Just take off your clothes, drape yourself in yards of cheap fabric, and lie on the floor of your living room atop an air mattress in front of the television and eat. If I had a source of income independent of labor, I’d do it.
But anyway back to Beef Burger: In 1971 Ralph Havis purchased a Biff Burger Franchise on Lee Street in Greensboro and he went on to run it even after the parent company mysteriously disappeared. In 1981 when his original lease expired with Biff Burger Corporation, Ralph in a fit of paranoia changed the name of his restaurant ever so slightly to Beef Burger and the rest is the stuff that legends are made of. What makes Beef Burger so great is not only the cool retro design of the actual restaurant but Beef Burger still uses the Biff Burger patented roto-broil cooking method for its hamburgers. The roto-broil technique involves broiling the hamburgers from above and below as they rotate on a rack in the oven. The burgers are basted with Beef’s special sauce as they cook and the buns are placed on the bottom most rack where they not only toast up real nice but they also catch the juices that are seeping out of the oscillating burgers. Not a drop of grease goes to waste at this premise on Lee Street. Over the years Ralph made additions to the menu that reflected a love of all things battered and deep fried. It boasts fried platters of everything from zucchini to fish sticks. I especially love their fried okra and onion rings. Beef Burger also gained a reputation for their milk shakes; which brings me to the personal history aspect of the Biff/Beef Burger saga. My favorite memories of Beef Burger are of the Saturday nights when my dad and I would make a pilgrimage to Beef’s for their banana shakes. That was long after my parents had divorced and my dad was living on Pinecroft Road. I can remember being much younger and my mom refusing to take me to Biff Burger because she heard it was dirty. Aww, whatever mom: didn’t she know that’s what made it good??! But my dad didn’t give a fuck. He knew those burgers were good and he loved a good shake. Sometimes we would buy one for my grandmother and drive it over to her house. Once I moved out on my own I lived for a time in the ghetto across the tracks on the other side of Lee Street on Dillard Street right behind a shack that was called Eddie’s Place and sold porn magazines and videos. I was within easy striking distance of Beef Burger. Double Meat Super Cheeses and all the fries I wanted and no parental authority to check me; it was a hog fest of grease and hamburger that when on for several years. There is no place like Beef Burger in the world and every time I go home I pay my respects to its hallowed halls of lard and garishly colored environs. This Christmas if you are lucky enough to be in Greensboro stop in and have a shake and you’ll see what I mean!!! I’ve posted a link in my stuff for a website that is devoted to the Biff Burger Phenomena, so check it out. And also I stole some of these pictures of Beef Burger off of a web page called Greensboring. The pictures were taken by Beth. I hope she doesn’t mind too much.

1 comment:

runhide said...

Man I want one right now. What you ommitted is that beef burger also has stuff like fried balogna, streak o'lean..the odd onions in some watery sauce..they used to sell all sorts of knicknacks and velvet paintings. I even saw a switchblade in the displace case. What also is great about beef burger is their fries which are served in a cup. I love fries served in a cup.