Somehow, though, it just never did. We weren't hungry for burgers, we were concerned the wait would be too long, the weather was too cold (or too hot); our excuses were legion and, at the same time, the usual suspects. This is how it came to be that last Sunday, approximately ten months after we moved here, we still had not eaten at Terry's Turf Club. After a nice afternoon at the Barnum & Bailey Circus (yes, it was awesome and yes, I am eight years old more times than not) we put our collective foot down and decided that 'today is the day'.
The drive through the east side along the river is, lets's say, interesting. I felt like I was in in Appalachia. Call me insensitive or crude, but I was concerned that at any moment the Deliverance banjo tune would float through the air to my ears. Annnnyyywaaaaaays.... we got to Terry's and grabbed a street parking spot.
View from across the street
Terry's is decked out in neon lights. I would love to see this place at night, but we would suffice to the dim glow in the daylight. We walked in the door, put in our name with the doorman and sat outside. We thought it might be a long wait, but we were inside and seated at a four top with another couple within five or so minutes. Certainly not the epic wait stories that swirl around in Cincinnati lore.
View from the front door
We settled in and went to town on the complimentary peanuts set out. For the second time that day, I got to feel like a child as it is perfectly acceptable to throw your shells on the floor. I wasn't really feeling a beer for lunch, as I had consumed my alotted volume (and then some) the night before. They do have a respectable list, though, with both microbrews and imports represented. After enjoying the signs and lights for a few minutes, our waitress came over and we put in our orders. We both kept it classic, despite the presence of crab, fancy cheeses, sauces, and various other toppings available. American cheese, lettuce, onions, banana peppers, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, and mayo; cooked medium (with a side of fries to split).
Our burgers and the moment of truth arrived simultaneously. Would the burger from Terry's Turf Club live up to the hype? The answer is an overwhelming, unqualified yes. Coarse-ground, and perfectly cooked to temperature, it is everything you could ever want in a burger. I feel like I made the right choice in going simple on toppings, because this was one of the rare experiences where I could actually taste the beef. I don't know the specifics of its formation (fat percentage, ground in/out of house, etc) but it was definitely high quality. It was perfectly sized: not big enough to stop me from eating my fries, but big enough to fill me up almost to that point.
The fries should have been an afterthought in the shadow of this burger, but they were actually really good. Skin-on and very crispy and brown, which might not be everyone's preference, but I'm of the persuasion that most fries probably need a few more minutes in the fryer.
After we paid and headed out, I got a snap of the griddle top where the burgers are cooked.
Where the magic happens
Terry's Turf Club, in a city with a great selection of burger joints, is now the tops on my list for the best burger in the city. It's followed closely by Cafe de Wheels and Rookwood, but Terry's is by itself on the throne. When I can get a burger that is presented without all sorts of fancy pants toppings and it still stacks up to the best in terms of flavor and texture, I count this as a winner. One day I'll put together a list of my favorites, but as of right now those three are topping the charts.