Burgers are my big, decadent cheat.
When I’m too tired to cook and there are no dinner plans on the horizon, my neighborhood Five Guys Burgers is my instant best friend.
And so it was with great excitement that I read about a new burger joint opening near my Brooklyn neighborhood this spring — Jake’s Wayback Burgers, a chain that began as Jake’s Hamburgers in 1991 in Newark, Del., and in 2010 changed its name to brand itself as a throwback to a time before “frozen hockey-puck burgers” or celebrity chefs “selling overpriced burgers for $20 at their upper-crust burger boutiques,” so says its Web site. Now, having had some of these types of burgers — and enjoyed them very much — I was curious to see how a chain that slams other burger purveyors would make its own.
So, on a recent afternoon, we set off to see how this bygone burger would taste …
The set-up at Jake’s in downtown Brooklyn is fairly standard for a fast-food joint — there’s the board, the fluorescent lights. (And the far-too-perfunctory waitstaff.)
We began with the basic cheeseburger — a 6.6 oz. double goes for $4.39 — and fries ($1.99). The patty — hand-formed, as all the signage stresses — was fine. Tastier than your standard mass-produced fast-food versions but lacking in the crusty char and deliciously juicy drippings that a Five Guys (or Corner Bistro) burger has. And the bun-to-meat ratio felt slightly off — I generally like it to be about 50-50 but this plump bun made for more bread than patty overall. (Now, it’s fine if the bun is tasty in and of itself — but this, while perfectly decent, isn’t Amy’s Bread, or anything close to it.)
And the fries, though nice and crisp, were just OK. Not worth the carbs.
We fared better with the summer special, a $5.49 BBQ Crunch burger where the patty is topped with American cheese, BBQ sauce and housemade chips (see picture right at the top). I was skeptical of the combination but the chips gave the burger a great salty crunch, with the BBQ sauce adding some zing to the overall flavor. Paired with a milkshake — another Jake’s specialty, which proved to be thick, creamy and a wonderful foil for a big burger lunch — this burger was pretty darn tasty.
Would we go back? Based on the regular burger, I’d have to say I’ll stick with my BFF Five Guys.
But if September’s burger special proves as tantalizing as August’s, however, we may just give the place another shot.
Jake’s Wayback Burgers, 125 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, New York; 718.243.2098; http://www.waybackburgers.com/