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Hamburger Diaries: Culver’s

Monday, 15 August, 2011

When I saw the sign for Culver’s go up all those years ago, I wondered what a frozen-custard butterburger actually was. It was years before I actually bothered to visit. You probably know the butterburger and frozen custard are wholly separate entities.

Last weekend my favorite conspirator joined me on a visit to the first Culver’s in a state not contiguous to their native Wisconsin. This restaurant opened in 1997 and was not especially inconvenient for me. Somehow this was my second visit in fourteen years.

I have spent a week mulling it over. My feeling about Culver’s is not as negative as the only things I can think to say about it. Due to circumstances with regard to my health, I may not have enjoyed this as much as I possible.

The decor is somewhere between a “family restaurant” and “quick service”. The general theme is a clean white and blue theme with lots of light wood accents …

Oh fuck it.

My companion ordered first and I had to find another cashier to take my order. This is the first time, not only in the Diaries but in my life, I had to make an effort to place an order at a quick-service restaurant.

I was eventually served a generous boat of high-school-cafeteria crinkle-cut fries, a half-pound burger which tasted like it was dressed with especially unspicy cole slaw, the bun or “butter” element of the butter burger came from the grocery down the street, and the butter was not evident. The beef may have been “never frozen” but didn’t taste of much. I opted for chili on my fries and it was bottled smoked to the point of befuddlement. The toppings, including the flavorless “mild cheddar” cheese, was colder than the drinks.

If this is Wisconsin dairy, no wonder both California and Texas are producing more dairy products these days.

My beloved got the meat and meat with meat sandwich which was novel enough but who cares. No toppings at all. Just meat blander than what comes out of those microwaveable packs at the grocery, with a bun which may or may not have been buttered.

No, I don’t remember what either sandwich was named. I care that much.

The fries at the Pleasure Ridge Park High School cafeteria were similar and just as good. This is not praise for either institution. The shtick here is that you order at a counter and they bring your food to you. The staff appears to wish they did not have to be bothered.

We returned for desserts. My beloved’s “Cement Mixer” (mint, marshmallow fluff and chocolate chips) was in fact quite brilliant. My chocolate malt was pretty good despite being too thick to drink through a straw and served in the wrong container. An hour later, the malt was quite good as it could be consumed and you could actually experience the malt which was concentrated on the bottom of the sundae cup. When you could taste the ingredients it was quite good.

The desserts would have been the highlight, however, this meal has surpassed Five Guys as the most expensive meal thus far recorded in the Hamburger Diaries. Remember, this included desserts, but nonetheless achieved a ticket close to $27. We should have just gone to Buffet Palace, Five Guys or even P.Terry’s just down the street. This experience is not only not worth almost thirty bucks, it feels like a kind of punishment for not attending the tired and true.


One Comment
  1. Graeme permalink
    Monday, 15 August, 2011 11:44

    I never got around to trying Culver’s, despite plenty of opportunity to do so. Reading your review led to an understanding of why. The family restaurant aspect of it. I hate those things. I hate them because they’ll be just as good or worse than traditional fast food, but they charge more. And I assume they’ll be crawling with children.

    I’m glad to learn I haven’t missed much, though that was always my suspicion. I was attracted to the butter burgers on the billboards, but people only talked about the desserts when I asked if they’d been there. Should have known…

    I don’t understand why anyone who owns a restaurant would serve crappy fries. It just makes no sense as a business strategy. Do those bland fucking things honestly taste good to anyone? Especially in an age where, like it or not, McDonald’s over-the-top insanity is the benchmark? It just makes no sense to me. In fact, I find it offensive.

    The absurd prejudices and opinions I’ve acquired over the years is weighing especially heavily on me of late. But that’s because I’m in the process of re-inventing myself yet again.

    I hope you are not having serious health issues, Stan. Be well & take care of yourself.


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