The 'Serious Burger' at Cheeburger Cheeburger: Taste Test and an SNL Video
The abridged version of the chain, at Newark's Terminal A
National burger chains are flying into town and running up their numbers so fast we can't keep up with them. One of the latest to arrive -- along with Smashburger, Fatburger (which tried twice in the last two decades, failed, and is trying again), and Five Guys (which had a big head start) -- is Cheeburger Cheeburger.
The Serious Burger (really a cheeseburger) comes wrapped like a birthday present with a nice green olive on top.
This Florida-based franchise takes its name from a famous John Belushi sketch on SNL (also starring Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Bill Murray, and Robert Klein, the writer of the sketch, who appears near the end and sits at the counter) set in a Greek diner. You can read the name on the window backward -- the Olympia Restaurant -- but the prototype for the sketch was a Chicago bar called the Billy Goat Tavern, known to many of the skit participants, who, you'll remember, came from the Second City, a Windy City sketch-comedy outfit.
The joke lies in the fact that all the place seems to serve is cheeseburgers, pronounced at ear-splitting volume in an immigrant's accent, and endlessly repeated as "cheeburger, cheeburger, cheeburger ..."
Pillaging Belushi's corpse, the chain Cheeburger Cheeburger appeared with a single Park Slope branch earlier this year, but perhaps more germane to airline travelers, a stealth express branch materialized more recently at Newark Airport. As a captive audience, the prospect of one of their patties may be more appealing, when you don't have dozens of other burger choices, as you do in most city nabes.
As the 10-ounce cheeseburger looks, freed of its wrapper
A qualified "num, num, num" -- pretty good for an airport, but the patty a bit dry
Just before entering the screening rigmarole at Terminal A, I grabbed their flagship burger, the Serious Burger, which is a 10-ounce patty, regaled without extra charge with mayo, onions, lettuce, and American cheese. The chain permits you to order the burger done as rare as "medium," which is an advance over Five Guys, which cooks its burger to a cinder.
The "medium" is the faintest pink in the gray middle, and the size of the Serious is big but not overwhelming. The patty appears to be hand-patted, and is hence of somewhat irregular circumference. The flavor is dull, however, since the beef used is so unfatty. Still, not a bad burger if you're hurrying through the airport and need a quick bite, much better than the pre-wrapped sandwiches found at other concessions.
Next: A video of the original "Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger" sketch, called "The Olympia Restaurant" (1978) ...
The comedy sketch that inspired a Florida burger chain
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