Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Many Upper Arlington residents have spent mealtimes at the Chef-O-Nette restaurant looking for bargain food in a family atmosphere. The Jenqster and I certainly were as we entered the restaurant, our first thoughts being, "Okay, I've been told not to eat the dinner roles here since they play catch with them on the back," and "I don't remember this much hatred in this particular restaurant," respectively.

Our faces

With that in mind, perhaps it's best if I try to keep this review brief. I wouldn't want to dirty your eyes. Not that there's going to be any sex, nudity or gore (awww man...), but your eyes might literally get dirty. As in, the dirt from Chef-O-Nette's dining room might have teleported into the pictures we took then through the internet and on to your computer screen. It's that dirty.

Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on in that painting?

Okay, it's probably not that dirty (it had to have passed a food inspection here and there if it's still open, right?), but it's pretty clear that Chef-O-Nette may not make a very good first impression its on customers. Having said that, the customers will probably make a pretty good impression on the restaurant--or at least an indentation. On the dirt.

If you look closely you can see footprints in the carpet

It's also clear that they haven't changed a whole lot in the past 40 years (including the drapes). Everything from the decorations to the menus to the prices all reek of age. Or perhaps they reek of retro flair. It could totally go either way here.

I'm not gonna lie, that's a pretty awesome clock.

But the burger busters do not care for feeble attempts to create atmosphere. We are men. We eat meat. The gods smile on those who strut to the table, order the burgers, eat without speaking of any business aside from the task at hand, and depart with a firm handshake. And we did just that. After taking a pretty picture of the flower box, of course.

You can hardly tell it's fabric!

The Bun
These particular buns at Chef O Nette were easily some of the most generic, archetypal buns we had ever seen. My bun could probably work for the FBI if he wanted to because he could blend in to a crowd of buns like a needle into a stack of needles. Unfortunately, my bun's task was instead to cover my burger, which it did a fine job at, but also it didn't add anything. Unless starchy white bread is your thing.

Looking at this is giving me cottonmouth

On another note, you may notice in some of the pictures that the bun looks toasted, however, it lacked any crunch or firmness whatsoever when put to the test. Either someone in the kitchen is an expert chemist who has discovered the secret to floppy toast, or that person just likes coloring on buns with a brown magic marker. Could be either.

Score: 1/3

Don't be fooled. Even though it looks toasted, I know the truth.

The Toppings
There's really not much to say about Chef O Nette's toppings. The vegetables are decent in that they add some crunch to what is otherwise a somewhat flimsy sandwich, and they taste pretty damn close to how they should. The cheese is orange... Yep... Everything's pretty much average here... The ketchup is--wait. Wait just a second, how do you even make ketchup out of the ordinary?


Alright, well this is interesting. They seem to have found a way to extract the ketchup from its native environment, and transported it into some kind of plastic container with a miniature shovel in it... What am I even supposed to do with this...? Am I supposed to trust that this has been cleaned since the last customer used it?


Alright, well now that shit is on your burger, so there's really not a whole lot you can do about it. It's also worth pointing out that the idiosyncrasies of Chef O Nette's ketchup don't end there. It had an odd, vinegary taste about it that made it feel like it was watered down. Or perhaps spat in. Just the thought was a bit unpleasant...

Score: 2/5

Yup, those are pickles.
The Patty
I'm just going to come out and say right now that this was not an incredible patty. Sorry for ruining the suspense and probably your hopes and dreams. However, the one thing that the patty has going for it is that it's actually pretty normal. While the burger busters do not normally celebrate something that fits so well into a generic mold, in a restaurant that's just so quirky and weird (and not always in a good way) it's a bit of a relief to have some familiarity with good old fashioned ground beef. It was a fine size, and actually tasted like cow.

That's still pretty average.

At least we're certain about something

Score: 4/8

And now we have the burger score coming to a grand total of...

Bun: 1
Toppings: 2
Patty: 4 +
----------- 7

Chef O Nette actually has a whole lot of other food aside from burgers, ranging from cooked carrots to cottage cheese. Basically anything mushy you could imagine your grandma eating as a snack because her gums ain't what they used to be. Also on the menu are crispy, succulent, surely trans-fat rich fries, that were probably the highlight of the meal. They had a perfect balance of potato and grease, which made for a great side dish worth a half tilt point.

This is actually making my mouth water, I'm not even joking.

Adding in that half tilt point brings the aggregate score up to...


So, if you're ever in old Upper Arlington and you want to have a nice family meal (or you're over 65), you could totally go to Chef-O-Nette for such fare. If you don't mind the dirty looks from the people in the kitchen or the dirty... er... dirt, then you might just have yourself a good time. Just make sure you wash your hands afterwards.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Okay, let's be honest here, no one cares about McDonald's. Not even the burger busters do. In fact, they care so little, that two of the three busters who came to the event were half an hour late, leaving the last buster all to his lonesome in his car. Although this particular buster's car was more like an oven due to the 95 degree heat. Trust me, I was there.

My God is he good looking.

However, since they are the veritable generals of the fast food burger army, it's only reasonable that the burger busters brave the waves upon waves of typical McDonalds customers and face the meat.

Typical McDonalds customers.

But enough (well deserved and otherwise totally justified) griping (and admiration of beautiful, intelligent men). It's time to see what McDonald's has to offer.

Oh wow! That actually looks pretty good! Please look like that... Please taste as good as that looks...

I'm sorry, that's not even close.

Okay, well let's try to look for some nice similarities between those two burgers. Both of them have meat. They've got that going for them...

You know what, let's be honest. Saying that the burger we were served looks like the one on the wrapper is like saying that Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama look alike based on the fact that both of them have a penis. While it's not much of a surprise that real life burgers don't look exactly as they're advertised at a fast food joint, it was still a bit discouraging even before the first bite to notice such a stark difference in appearance.

And now it's time to get serious.

The Bun
The bun at McDonald's is kind of nice looking from the top, as it is dotted with sesame seeds and it also has a classic bread-flavored taste, but that's about where the positives end. And the jury's still out on the bread flavor. Our buns were lukewarm and fairly pasty, in that once you got to chewing it, it would turn back into the dough from whence it was baked. They also had an odd brownish color to their undersides, as if they were once toasted, but then became hollow shells of the buns they once were. Really, they were as floppy as any non-toasted bun we've tasted. All of these factors are reflected on said bun's measly score.

Score: 1/3

Just in case one set of buns wasn't enough, you get an extra one in the middle of any Big Mac. Woah!

The Toppings
The toppings at McDonald's are probably the best part of the burger, and almost all of the flavor on the burger results from them. The tomatoes in particular were quite good, and didn't have any of the unpleasant greenness that is often present in under ripe fast food fruit. The onions were also commendable, but the lettuce was verging on wilted and the sandwich was so slathered with ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard that I might as well have asked for extra ground beef on my condiment sandwich.

Score: 2.5/5

Nice tomato! That's about it...

The Patty
And here's the thick of it. The make-or-break section of the review. The patties of the Angus: Third-Pounders ordered by the Jenqster and I were fairly thick, but didn't offer much in the way of taste. The Deer Hunter's Big Mac patties were equally lacking in flavor, and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of bun present. The lack of seasoning was further accentuated by the rubbery texture of the meat. It was almost as if I could taste the heat lamps.

I think you can even see the heat lamps...

As we all know, any good burger can survive on superb meat and a few good toppings alone, should such a desperate situation arise. Unfortunately, our patties were not able to rise to the call of duty, which resulted in a decidedly mediocre sandwich.

Score: 3/8

So the burger score comes to a grand total of...

Bun: 1
Toppings: 2.5
Patty: 3 +

Well, butter me and call me a muffin! That's pretty underwhelming for the world's largest hamburger chain--a chain that serves over 64 million people a day. You'd think they would find a way to get better burgers in their restaurants with the almost 24 billion dollars in revenue they made in 2010 alone. These are some seriously staggering numbers for a company that is despised by so many people--thanks to Morgan Spurlock.

Typical McD's exec: "Instead of better burgers, let's spend all our money on creating a snappy slogan for our lemonade!"

However, as much as it pains me to compliment a restaurant as mainstream and unhip as McDonald's, there is some good food to be had here. The ice cream cones, while mostly ice and not enough emphasis on the cream, are only 59 cents, which is a nice bargain, and the milkshakes are actually of decent quality. Furthermore, their breakfast menu is delectable, and will hopefully be fattening me up for the winter months very soon. I'd say that's worth a tilt point for any non-burger food McDonald's has to offer!

Adding in that solid tilt point, McDonald's earns an aggregate score of


If you're ever in the mood to kill some small businesses, or if you're ever on the road and your arteries are in the mood to be hardened, look no further! But if I were to set my bleeding heart liberal health nut persona aside and give this burger a purely objective rating, it would probably be as follows.

It's pretty shitty.

We are incredibly cool.

Also: If you're reading this, why not take the time to follow us? It'll take only a second! And heck, maybe you can join us for some burger busting some time!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Thurman Café

In conducting a review of Central Ohio Burger joints, it is only fair that The Thurman Café (183 Thurman Avenue Columbus, OH 43206), known simply as "Thurman's" be evaluated. Thurman's exists as a crowning edifice in the landscape of burger joints in the Columbus area. Nestled in the heart of German village since 1942, Thurman's has been featured in Man v. Food and, if not commonly accepted as the premier burger joint, is certainly the most well known. To be sure, it is the one restaurant for which the busters have been recommended time and time again, and purports to make "The Best Burgers in Columbus."

In order to test this, the Burger Busters decided to embark on an epic struggle, tackling not just the classic Thurman Burger, but also the fabled Thurmanator - and not just one, but THREE! It would be a providential day in Burgerbuster history, one captured in the transcript below. Thurman's was more than a burgerbusting experience. It was, to put it mildly, a veritable battle. 
And in both cases, history was made.
But first on to the burger! As with O'Reilly's, Thurman's has earned the prestigious honor of being what the burgerbusters call a Burger God. That is to say that the burger features certain aspects that cannot be conveyed via the conventional scoring system or even the built-in tilt score feature. Thus, while the three major factors in burger evaluation shall be here listed, the score shall not be summed to represent the fact that, in fact, there exists something above and beyond what a person expects of a burger joint. A certain je ne sais quoi that goes beyond tabulation.  The burger up for review here will be the proverbial thurmanator, a legend throughout the midwest and a bastion of burger goodness.
This says it better than I could. 
Before commencing this review, several features should be kept in mind when ordering at thurmanator. These are enumerated below:

  • Make sure your fuel reserves are empty before tackling a thurmanator. Rupture of the stomach lining may cause you to die. 
  • When lifting a thurmanator, lift with your legs rather than your back. Improper form when lifting heavy objects leaves one susceptible to  serious back injury.
  • Never look at a thurmanator directly unless willing to engage in combat. Bedouin and samurai honor codes decree that a direct regard signifies a duel to the death. 
  • If necessary, consider light warm up exercise to prep your body for the grueling struggle ahead. Good examples include push-ups or jumping jacks! Don't be caught off guard!
  • The thurmanator is banned in 28 of the 48 continental United States of America. Please refer to local and state laws before attempting to transfer a thurmanator across the border. 

Bear all this in mind, and you'll be on your way to a safe and enjoyable eating experience! 

Now, on to the review...

The Bun
It's never been seen before until now, but Thurman's has a perfect bun. It's firm yet tender, a golden masterpiece that is perfectly seasoned and goes above and beyond the call of duty to hold together the monstrous Thurmanator. And successfully. And while a million jokes could be made regarding buns and actresses, supermodels and others of their exquisite ilk, we must bear in mind that the Thurman bun is a heroic creature. It has none of the delicacy and grace of femininity and instead goes balls to the wall to hold together the raging battle between it's fortified confines.

The Thurman bun
The Thurman bun is easily the best bun the burgerbuster have ever had. And if it abandoned its post as the gatekeeper of the formidable burgers at Thurman's, we would still happily gobble it up as simply a roll. 

Score: An enthusiastic 3/3

The Toppings
It has often been said that the people of Russia were hardened into a tough, innovative and mighty people not based on any innate militarism or aggressiveness, but because preternatural enemies on all sides served as a crucible to give the icy nation an indomitable temper. In many ways, this is an apt analogy as it relates to burgers. The bun of Thurman's is a child of necessity, that necessity being the undulating masses of toppings afforded to Thurman's burgers. 

I see Tartar raiders, a Grande Armee, German stormtroopers and a helluva lot of toppings. 
Thurman's slathers on lettuce, onions, tomatoes, bacon, grilled onions, mozzarella, cheddar cheeses and sauces of your choice on the Thurmanator. It is about as awesome as it sounds, more so given that quality of said toppings really is superb. The cheese on this burger is enough to give pizza a run for its money. The lettuce is crisp and lends the burger a bearable refreshing and juicy bite. The grilled onions are amazing and offer a nuanced and discreet sweet to the ham's salty. 

That's right, they have ham as a requisite topping on the thurmanator.  They top their meat with meat. 

And while bacon is indeed a meat for all interested, that shit doesn't fulfill the literal appellation of a hamburger as a hamburger. Bestowing ham upon so fine a meal gives not only flavor but is an indicator that Thurman's does not fuck around when it comes to its toppings. That said, bear in mind, that in spite of being a manly purveyor of meat, Thurman's does offer a veggie sub and vegetable pizza. Given that Thurman's is man enough to offer goods that stand on the virtue of their vegetables alone, you can be damn sure they know how to pack in the green good stuff. 

Score: 5/5

The Meat
If one orders the thurmanator, this is really what your money is paying for. At the core of the philosophy is that bigger is better and if that bigger is good tasting, than shit, you've got a winning recipe! That said, consistent with all the above shown portions is two 12 ounce patties of meat equating to a whopping 24 ounces. That's 1.5 pounds of meat. To put that in perspective, that's bigger than  your typical New York strip steak or cut of ribeye.  
Quote of the day: "I have never seen so much meat in one place."
Couple this with the quality of the meat and you have something pretty extraordinary. At the heart of the Thurman's experience is taste and texture in equal parts. The ground beef at Thurman's knows how to play the game so to speak. There aren't hard parts and weird alien textures that you might get from Wendy's or a lower rung burger joint. Moreover, Thurman's burgers can be ordered with varying degrees of done-ness. As seen above, there's a bit of pink in that burger that only a freshly cooked burger to your specifications can offer. Thurman's meat is fresh and hot off the grill. 

Still, it is curiously in the meat department that Thurman's suffers its few issues. While thurman's uses high quality meat and in mindboggling quantities, it's not really all that seasoned. Moreover, the 'taste of the grill,' the carbon residue that every student of grillings seeks to acquire is simply not there. To be sure, Thurman's has superb quality meat and for the purist who loves his meat au naturale, none of the aforementioned issues are a problem. Thurman's has great patties. They just don't add the flourishes to make eating one and a half pounds of it all that easy. 

Score: 6.5/8

Aside from the burgers and subject of this review, Thurman's has pretty damn good fries. Not potato-y but not simply the crunchy rinds of over fried 'taters. Moreover, Thurman's has something for everyone with a range of varying subs, appetizers and entrees. The atmosphere itself is that of an all-American pub and the decor is by turns eclectic and humorous. Totally a place to chill out and enjoy the company of good friends. 
We accept the scrawl on our first president based on content.
As previously stated, Thurman's rank as a Burger God and a central Ohio legend precludes the tabulation of its score. If Jesus came down to earth in your lifetime and you were taller than him, you probably wouldn't tell him. Hell, you probably wouldn't even acknowledge it and just kowtow to him, cowering in terror as he refrains from obliterating you with his laser beams. Why? Well, because he has laser beams, but also because think of the coolest thing ever - he's cooler than that shit. Understand this idea, and you'll get why Thurman's is a Burger God.

Seriously? This again?
Thurman's claims on its website to be the purveyors of "The Best Burger in Columbus." While it is not the function of the burgerbusters to bestow such a title upon any single burger joint, Thurman's would without a shadow of a doubt be a real contender for such an honor. With awesome toppings, bun and loads of delicious meat, Thurman's proudly earns its designation as:

Burger God!

Come, Thurman['s]! Take your seat...AMONG THE GODS!

Also called Fenrisúlfr, Thor's bane, lord of Ragnorok.

Also: If you're reading this, why not take the time to follow us? It'll take only a second! And heck, maybe you can join us for some burger busting some time! 

The Thurman Café (Transcript of the day)

Eating at Thurman's was more than a dining experience - it was a battle. In a single day, the very faith and love of ground-beef based cuisine was put into doubt as the burgerbusters took on the Thurmanator. Herein lies a transcript of that fateful day, and just what YOU could expect from a trip to the legendary Thurman Cafe!

1248 hours, Thurman’s atrium
In addition to the regular crew, the Burgerbusters assembled an expeditionary force to tackle the fabled Thurman’s Café consisting of Kevin , Izzy, Dia, Abby and the incomparable Superstarr Wang (See, if you eat with us, we recognize you! We're attention whores!). All present were "Thurman Virgins," and so were eager to engage in burgerbusting with this local legend BY local legends - AKA, The Burgerbusters.

Although the initial mobilization would be slowed by Thurman's long wait the Burgerbuster Expeditionary force would be ready for deployment in good time.
Potential diners should take note that there are no call-ahead reservations at Thurman's; one should be prepared for a considerable wait, especially at the busy dining hours of 11AM-1PM and 5-7PM. The Burgerbusters, for example, had an hour long wait, and observed many other diners idling in anticipation of their chance to eat AMONG THE GODS!
Still, the place offers some nice diversions. There's a pin ball machine and Galaga/Miss Pac Man. And the Dos Equis Man.
Many brave souls and even more quarters were lost while waiting...
1302 hours, Thurman’s Café
The burgerbusters are seated. The Expeditionary force is distributed over two tables, Army Group A and B. Something to keep in mind for larger parties, especially on busy (every) days. Beachhead established. Drop Zone cleared for further assault. Tense communications are observed during ordering. Thurman's offers a wide and varied selection from Pizza, to burgers to the king of burgers and the burger of kings! Intelligence indicates the Thurmanator is bigger than any of us anticipated, consisting of two 12 ounce patties slathered with toppings galore. 

The overarching thought of the day: "Why are we doing this?"

Ryan: "Poor Genetic Material?"
Lynch: "fhdsakfhklahj!!!!"
1324 hours, Thurman’s Café
The Burgerbuster Expeditionary Force engages in preliminary shore-ranged bombardment and small scale skirmishing. A salad manifests itself from the early stages of the fray and is consumed in frightening fashion. Little resistance is experienced. Orders are promptly taken, however, do not appear until fairly late. Fair enough. Fitting five whole cows into a grinder to make a Thurmanator takes time, especially given that grinders take slabs of meat, not whole livestock. In any case, the order of battle is as follows:

Guess which one is from the largest continent in the world. Hard, right?
Army Group A
Jenqster: Thurmanator
Ryan: Thurmanator
Lynch: Bacon & Bleu
Izzy: Veggie Sub
Abby: Veggie Pizza

Army Group B
DD: Thurmanator
The Deer Hunter: Bacon & lettuce burger
Superstarr Wang: Bacon Burger
Dia: Cheeseburger Deluxe

Let's put the fear of God in those goddamn tomatoes!!!!
1352 hours, Thurman’s Café
At approximately 2:00PM, the main battle was joined with much foodstuffs being taken out. While the delectable virtues of the bacon & bleu, deluxe cheese and classic bacon burger were all visibly apparent, the BEF was taken off guard by the hulking size and strength of the legendary Thurmanator!

Variations on a theme.

The Thurmanator is known to be like lightning. It scares small children and animals.   Given that the Burgerbusters are arguably neither of these, we decided to take a risk and try to tackle this magnificent burger. It should be noted that the Thurmanator was featured on Man Vs. Food and for many eons was not even listed on the menu! With a structure that required two shish-kebab prongs to hold together, a bun that looked like the basilica of the Hagia Sophia and cheese dribbling down like the great flood, THIS was a burger of biblical proportions!
And we know damn well where those toppings came from.
1407 hours, Thurman’s Café
The battle would start with a fair degree of success. The conventional burgers, while undeniably large, would incur only light losses. The campaigns against the veggie pizza and the veggie sub, in turn, would also experience similar successes. And although it will not be the subject of the subsequent review, it should be noted that for vegetarians out there the portions are quite large and the quality consistent with other Thurman's offerings - which is to say pretty damn good.

Inexplicable hysteria is a well-known side effect of Thurman's
In any case, as the BEF made contact with the Thurmanator, intense battle commenced as the expeditionary force hurled itself at the fortified walls of meat and cheese. Knowing just where to start off the attack was among many of the challenges faced by the burgerbusters, as epitomized by the photos below:

What the hell?!?!?
1436 hours, Thurman’s Café
Nearly a half an hour on, and Thurman's had taken its toll on the burgerbusters. An ehow article claims that the key to "Eating a lot" resides in willpower. With the huge amounts of food left on the plate...this sorta was a difficult feat to accomplish. One burgerbuster had bugged out and the other two still engaged were listing badly. Despondency was encroaching the lines of BEF as the thurmanator seemed too great to vanquish. 

The distraught face of defeat.
Like a hell borne of Greek mythology, the meat had begun to lose its flavor and the water gulped down to wash down the food was seemingly inflating in swollen stomachs. The lights were glaring brighter and hurting the eyes. Everything seemed to tremble. Colors hurt to look at and sounds were biting into the flesh of our eardrums. Everything was fading .

The deteriorating situation was exacerbated by the burgerbusters choice of company. All coincidentally girls, they lent their feminine opinion in uncharacteristically unfeminine brusqueness, openly questioning the resolve and fortitude of the burgerbusters. Emasculated, stuffed to the gills, tired, and because there was just so much food, the burgerbusters gave up. 

--Just kidding. The Burger busters said "FUCK THIS SHIT!" and plowed on heroically! 

1504 hours, Thurman’s Café (VICTORY!)
By around 3:00PM, the burgerbusters had made either made a breakthrough or lost their minds completely. Historians generally agree that this was only one of two such episodes to annually befall the burgerbusters, the bouts generally lasting about six months each time (Badump-tish!) 
In any case, the bugerbuster had obliterated what had remained of the thurmanator. Through teamwork, inane mutterings in French and the kind of motivation that only comes when women doubt your ability to shove your face full of food, the burger busters prevailed! At long last, our plates were fully empty of the masses of toppings, bun and meat and our stomachs were filled to the brim! In complete seriousness, this burgerbuster didn't eat anything until dinner the next day on account of being full (I'll spare you the details of how that turns out, if you catch my drift.) 
I am more proud of this than graduating High School.
 Sure, it had burned a hole in our wallets and all of us had unequivocal food pregnancies, but heck, it was 100% worth it! An answer to the question that had earlier been inexorably ringing in our heads seemed to finally manifest itself:
I'm making a Hapsburg joke here! I'm better than you!

Poor genetic material FTW!!!!!

In any case, tackling the Thurmanator was a dire and grueling process and hopefully this transcript provides a feel for just what to expect if you go to Thurman's in addition to shameless aggrandizement of an epic day! 

And while the epic story of the thurmanator has no doubt already scared off the sissies among you, the burgerbusters strongly suggest you head over to Thurman's yourselves and see if you can handle the thurmanator yourself! Heck, maybe you'll see us and the BEF there, engaged in furious battle!