Rock Around the Clocked.

March 4, 2011 § 10 Comments

When you think of the things that peanut butter typically goes on, what comes to mind? Toast? Crackers? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? And…burgers?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received a lot of suggestions for places that I needed to visit and burgers that I needed to try. And for the most part, I’ve thought that all of the suggestions sounded awesome. But when a friend recommended the Peanut Butter and Bacon burger at Clocked in downtown Athens…well…I just didn’t know about that one.

Call me old-fashioned, but I only really eat peanut butter on sandwiches or with a spoon.

But I’ve never been one to knock something before I try it. Plus, people just rave about Clocked, so anything they have on their menu must be good, otherwise it wouldn’t be there in the first place.

So it was one afternoon after class that my faithful roommate and fellow Bun Voyager, Ashley, and I went to Clocked for lunch. I was excited to finally go there for the first time. I think Clocked flies a bit under the radar, and with a location on the far end of Washington St., it’s not a place that people might pass by while perusing the boutiques of Clayton St.

We walked into Clocked and were immediately greeted with the quintessential American diner. A black-and-white checkered floor with red booths and tables and little quaint touches here and there. But it was such a nice day, so Ashley and I decided to eat outside to take advantage of the peculiarly warm February weather.

As we looked over the menu, my choice was already clear. It was going to be the Peanut Butter and Bacon Burger, no questions asked. Ashley, although tempted to get the same thing, went with the Jumbo Deluxe burger, a burger with cheddar, bacon and a fried egg. We both ordered tater tots for our side, hers with a ranch dip and mine with their homemade creamy feta dressing.

To fully complete my diner experience, I had to order a cream soda to go with my burger, and it was the perfect accompaniment to our lunch.

After maybe 10 minutes, our burgers finally arrived at our table. After having breakfast around 8:30 that morning, Ashley and I were beyond hungry at that point. When our burgers were set down on the table at 2 p.m., we were starving. Borderline famished. I think Ashley said it best when she picked up her burger, looked at it, and said in all seriousness: “Get in my mouth.”

I felt similarly about my burger, although I wasn’t able to express it quite as eloquently as Ashley was.

Peanut Butter and Bacon burger.

As simple as it looks from this photo, rest assured that this burger was bursting with flavor.  The burger came served with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and their house sauce, which is a bit like a Russian dressing/Thousand Island type sauce. It’s a little tangy, but still sweet, and has a lot more flavor than mayonnaise. But what really made this burger shine was the creamy peanut butter spread on the top bun, and the crunchy bacon right below it.

I had no idea that peanut butter would literally be the most delicious thing you could put on a burger. As the heat of the meat warmed up the peanut butter, it started to melt and blend with the bacon. It added the perfect amount of sweet, salty creaminess to the burger, and somehow, it complimented the meat perfectly. I almost couldn’t believe how good it was. I was a little concerned that the peanut butter would taste odd with the lettuce and tomato beneath it, but nope. It all worked perfectly. Clocked was on to something with this one. This peanut butter was working some kind of burger miracle right before my eyes.

I started to wonder to myself, Am I going to be that girl that asks for all of her burgers in the future to come with peanut butter on them? Or worse, would I just start showing up to restaurants with a jar of peanut butter in my purse to put it on my burgers myself?

Okay maybe not, but the thought did cross my mind.

But even with all this focus on the peanut butter, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how wonderful the actual burger itself was. I don’t know whether I have a more discernible palate than most, or if I’ve just eaten a lot of burgers lately (it’s moments like this when I pray to not have sky-high cholesterol by the end of this semester), but I can tell when meat is locally or organically produced. And Clocked’s meat absolutely was.

Meat that comes from local farms or co-ops, or even meat that comes from cows that still eat grass, has a much more distinct flavor than meat that is served in fast food restaurants. Cows that live on farms and eat grass and are generally healthier produce meat that tastes drastically different than meat from cows in large factories.

The reason I knew that this meat was local was because it had a slightly grassy, sweet flavor. It actually tastes like how meat should taste, not like a processed mixture of meat and mystery ingredients. I asked our waitress where the meat was from and sure enough, it was from a local farm. On top of that, it was perfectly cooked, juicy, and well seasoned.

This is something that sets Clocked apart from some of the other restaurants I’ve been to that serve burgers. Good quality meat really makes a difference, and it makes a burger that much better. Not only better taste-wise, but better industry-wise, as these cows were raised exactly how they were supposed to be: happily chewing grass out in fields in the sunshine all day.

Across the table, Ashley was thoroughly enjoying her burger. I’ve never had a burger with a fried egg on top, but the yolk serves a similar purpose to the peanut butter: it adds a smooth, creamy consistency that blends so well with the flavors of the meat and cheese. And it looked amazing.

Jumbo Deluxe burger.

Ashley and I finished our burgers in record time, and were so full by the end of our meal that we were only able to eat about half of our tots. But I’ll just say right now that Clocked has some phenomenal tots.

You’d think that if you’ve had tots once, then you know how all tots will be. Well, not the case here. They were supremely crisp on the outside, perfectly seasoned and piping hot. Dipped in the creamy feta dressing, it was a hot-cold, creamy-crunchy, deliciously salty side that made the meal.

I don’t think I’ve ever left a restaurant quite as satisfied, or quite as full, as I was when left Clocked that day. I had only heard great things about Clocked from friends of mine, and now I could see just what they were talking about. Even though this was my first time, it surely won’t be my last, especially with how many other tasty things they had on their menu.

Although, regardless of what I get next time, I’m getting tots.

So, how did Clocked measure up?

Quality of meat: 9.75
A few more dashes of salt in the meat and it would have been perfect.

Freshness of ingredients: 9
The vegetables were all super fresh, and the pickles might have been homemade, which is always a nice touch.

Presentation: 7
This burger, although it was one of the best that I’ve tasted, wasn’t easy to present attractively, especially once runny, melted peanut butter oozed out of it for the remainder of the meal.

Creativity: 9
This is the first place I have ever heard of a restaurant putting peanut butter on a burger. I’m surprised more restaurants haven’t stolen that idea yet.

Overall rating: 9.5

If you would like to visit Clocked, and I know you’ll want to now because you’re going to want to try the Peanut Butter and Bacon burger for yourself, you can find them here:

Clocked Diner
269 West Washington Street
Athens, GA 30601
(706) 548-9175
Clocked Diner

Party of Five.

February 8, 2011 § 12 Comments

After going to The Globe last week, it’s been difficult finding the time to go out and eat a hamburger. Even though I typically eat three meals a day, somehow I only barely manage to squeeze them in.

Therefore, it was with great cosmic intervention that my second class was canceled today right before lunchtime, thus allowing me and my roommate time to stop by Five Guys on our way home from class.

For anyone who’s never actually eaten at Five Guys, the restaurant itself is hard to miss. If the neon lights and bright red-and-white decor of the outside of the building don’t stop you, then surely the signs advertising the glory of the burgers sold within will. Any restaurant with signs in the window claiming to have burgers created by the “Willy Wonkas of Burgercraft” is worth a second glance.

So it was with high hopes and high standards that I entered into Five Guys for only the fifth time in my college career.

My roommate and I set foot in the door at 11:02 a.m. and were immediately presented with the smell of an authentic burger joint. Although nothing had been prepared yet, as Five Guys believes firmly in cooking everything to order (not a single Five Guys franchise has a freezer…impressive, no?), the restaurant still had that familiar smell of french fries and chargrilled hamburgers.

The menu at Five Guys is simple, but offers plenty of options as far as toppings go. You can get a regular or little version of any of their burgers (a regular with two patties, a little with only one), and you can add cheese and bacon to your heart’s content. Both my roommate and I ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger, hers with pickles and ketchup, and mine with lettuce, tomato, ketchup and mustard. We ordered a regular side of Cajun fries to share, took our number and sat down to wait for our burgers to be freshly cooked to perfection.

While some restaurants don’t make any claims for the quality of their burgers, Five Guys can’t help but brag a little bit about the reviews they’ve gotten over the years. Or maybe brag a lot. But perhaps their bragging is warranted, given the positivity of the claims and signs plastered around the restaurant’s walls.

Rather than list the many, many claims that Five Guys has displayed on every square inch of available space, I will simply show you a few signs that speak for themselves:


Along with the signs placed throughout the restaurants, clippings from newspapers and magazines cover the walls, as well as the ratings from the Zagat Survey, which has named Five Guys among the best burgers in the nation by voters all across the country.

This burger kind of HAS to be awesome, doesn’t it? Thousands of people can’t be wrong.

It was during my perusing all of the signs in Five Guys that one of the cooks came out of the kitchen and delivered our burgers to our table, saving us the trouble of getting up when our number was called. A nice touch for a restaurant that doesn’t even employ waiters.

The burgers came in brown paper bags, wrapped up like little presents in tin foil. Opening up a burger at Five Guys is a little bit like opening up a present on Christmas morning. The anticipation of seeing what’s inside is almost as good as the actual present. Or in this case, the actual burger.

And Five Guys did not fail to impress.

The "Christmas morning" of hamburgers.

The "Christmas morning" of hamburgers.

I had nothing but awe for this burger. Hearty and filled with toppings: crisp lettuce, two (!!) slices of American cheese, and a heaping portion of bacon. “They’re still really hot,” my roommate pointed out, pointing to the steam swirling and floating away from my hamburger patties. And in burger terms, hot is good. Hot means fresh, as in fresh off the grill. And when my burger arrives to my table that fresh, I know it’s going to be good.

The first few bites of my burger were excellent, but only got better as I continued eating. The cheese that was cold when first placed on my burger began to melt, mixing with the juices from the meat. The bacon added the perfect amount of salty crunch while the tomato and lettuce provided a nice, cool, crisp contrast. A classic sesame seed bun held all of these delicious ingredients in place, and was perfectly soft and fresh, with neither too much or too little flavor.

The thing I marveled at the most while eating this burger is how juicy it was. The restaurant’s menu stated something along the lines of “Our burgers are cooked well-done and are always juicy!” but I immediately scoffed at the idea. (I have a tendency to disapprove of any burger cooked past medium, as I discussed in my last post.) “Yeah, we’ll see about that,” I said to myself.

Boy, was I wrong.

The burgers are thin enough that being cooked to well-done doesn’t detract from the overall burger experience. It likely has to do with the meat they’re using, probably something like a ground chuck or something with a fairly high fat content. A burger of ground sirloin could never be as juicy as this burger was if cooked to the same temperature. Although the meat itself isn’t seasoned very much, the meat has just enough flavor itself to withstand the lack of extra salt.

And it was so juicy! I just can’t get over it. Because until today, I thought only magic could keep a well-done burger from being bone dry and flavorless. These people really are the Willy Wonkas of making burgers.

So here we are, at the final score:

Quality of meat: 9
I could have used a TOUCH more salt in the meat, but with how absolutely ga-ga I was over the juiciness of the meat, I really can’t complain.

Freshness of ingredients: 8.5

Presentation: 7
Although the burger comes wrapped in tin foil and looks a little bit messy, that’s essentially what makes it a Five Guys burger.

Creativity: 5.5
The burgers here are simple and straightforward. You either want two patties or one, cheese or no cheese, and bacon or no bacon. But they get points for having original toppings like jalapenos and grilled mushrooms.

Overall rating: 8.5

In conclusion, I’d say Five Guys makes a great burger. Would I say it’s one of the “best burger feasts in the country?” I’m not sure. But I’d definitely say it’s probably going to be one of the best burgers you can find in Athens.

To visit Five Guys and get your very own “Christmas present” hamburger, here’s the contact information for the downtown Athens franchise:

Five Guys Burgers and Fries
101 College Ave.
Athens, Ga.
(706) 549-2811
http://www.fiveguys.com/home.aspx

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