We had been talking about checking out Burgermeister for quite some time before we actually made it there. It’s right by where a friend of mine lives, and we end up passing it quite a bit, always on our way to and from wherever it is we’re heading out in the quest for fun times in SF. Yet something always interferes with our plans to check out this colorful establishment. Sometimes we’re not in the mood for a greasy burger (actually, pretty often, now that I reflect on it) and opt for something else instead – does not help that there are options galore within a block on each side of this place. Other times we’re itching to experiment in the kitchen, and prefer to stay in for a home-cooked meal we can share and just spend a mellow evening catching up – actually that’s also more often the case than not. So that leaves a precious few possible moments and Burgermeister had not happened despite our best (?) intentions.
The 101 project helps. It counters that innate urge to just stay home and cook (bliss), because of the “target” mentality – I don’t want to fall behind my twice-a-week target of new restaurants .. but I have, haven’t I? See how talented I am at procrastination?
It’s not that impossible a target, but it isn’t super easy either, and it definitely keeps in check the comfort-seeking risk-averse creature-of-habit in me.
One evening we made a concerted, conscious effort to drag ourselves out of our stay-at-home sweats and venture forth. As we sauntered over, we were considering our orders – a burger or hot dogs? I sneaked a peek at yelp – and it seemed like there were quite a few raves about their hotdogs. Allegations of being a yelp-addict notwithstanding, I decided to keep an open mind, although deep inside I knew it was going to be the hot dog for me that night.
I am not sure what I expected. I do remember being pleasantly surprised at the ambiance. It was fairly informal, but somehow a half-notch above casual. You walk to the counter and unless you’re a regular or have a very clear cut vision in life of what your dinner choice is going to be (neither of which applied to me), you stand in front of the counter and gape momentarily. There are a lot of options a-hanging atop that order-counter. If you’re like me, you will need an embarrassed moment to contemplate the choices, and you’ll bashfully step aside to let the person behind you go first, and then realize that you’re all in the same boat of consternation at the breadth of possibilities.
Then on second glance, reality shows up, albeit a little late. It’s not THAT much of a decision, really. You pick between a burger and a hot dog, and that halves the complexity of your availability of choices. Then you pick some toppings in your head and go down the list trading in and out until you find a description that is the closest match to the dream meal in your mind. And if you’re truly as clueless as to what you might want as I am (wow, we have a lot in common), you just toss a mental coin and pick something when time is up.
We ordered, hiccupping twice in our attempts to scramble in the last-minute change of mind requests. Did I detect a subtle roll of the eyes behind the cashier machine at our giggly indecision? Perhaps – but I just chose to ignore it. My friend elbowed me and asked if I had seen the eye roll at our indecision. What eye roll, I said. We moved on.
We picked out our table, and went hunting for utensils, condiments and the like. We perched on the stools and people watched, eagerly awaiting our burger, hotdog, garlic fries and milkshakes: chocolate and vanilla.
The wait for service was actually fairly short. The steaming food arrived – on sheets of white, absorbent paper a-rustling atop ovoid-shaped wicker-like plastic red baskets Well, obviously not all the food arrived in the baskets – the milkshakes came in slim, tall, frosted glasses with a straw stuck in almost casually, as if its presence was really a poor substitute to a spoon, but oh well.
But the eye catching “oh god” moment was when the milkshake refills peered from behind the slim, tall, frosted glasses – they just served up the ice-cold metal shaker-canisters that the milkshakes were created in! You know, since the slim, tall, frosted glasses were clearly deficient functionally, what with their inadequate holding capacity and what not. Peering at the slim, tall, frosted glass filled to the brim with frothy creaminess was intimidating enough – and now twice as much to down. My friend and I both mouthed a silent “wow” at each other and finally turned our attention to the rest of the spread in front of us.
And spread it was. A massive hotdog, a massive burger, and unforgiveable buckets of garlic fries with chunks of roasted garlicky goodness. The only problem was when we picked up the food, it began dripping puddles of oil. Literally puddles. Not a single puddle of left over deep frying medium, but multiple puddles. It seemed like the mantra was to douse everything twice, and then once more for good luck. Even the aroma was oil-drenched. We glared, poked around, then broke into fits of giggles. This was beyond salvaging. We fished out bits and pieces and rapidly ran out of a dry spot on the absorbent papers. After a while, still in peels of mirth, for no real reason at all, we gave up and focused on the milkshakes.
Amazing milkshakes, though. So we lingered, poking around in the puddle of oil as we moved things around, shook our heads and made the best of an oily situation (haha).
Burgermeister was an experience in an oily awakening of dashed expectations – a realization that color, energy and creamy frothy milkshakes alone can not a good meal make, and that laughter can cure pretty much any oily debacle.