Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Eating Out A Bad Habit

Lordy, it seems like it’s been an age since we’ve last reviewed anything restaurantish around town. A mean economy can subconsciously make one a little less experimental in their eating. I’ve been hitting a lot of familiar and favorite places. And while it makes for boring blogging, I’m glad to do my part to keep the places I love, open. But that doesn’t preclude us entirely from trying anything new.

Case in point was the other night, we wanted hamburgers, but didn’t want the usual drive thru at the local choke and puke. When I suddenly remember that there was that new chain’s test location over in Fig Garden. At first I thought it was EurekaBurger!, but alas, they’re on the other side of Fresno’s Mason-Dixon Line. It was The Habit, a Californiacentric chain based out of Santa Barbara. Not as local as I was hoping, but heck, it’s something new.

So off we scoot for a to-go order that we can snarf down in the warmth of our own living room. I go for broke and get their double burger with bacon, plus fries and a strawberry malt. Everything was still a nice temperature upon arrival at the Hobbit Hole, which is a pretty good sign that they actually made the food to order and it was all able to come out at the same time. Although, I’m told they were rather camera shy. Tsk tsk tsk. Can’t a blogger get some visual material and not be looked at like someone preparing a lawsuit or have to kiss the ass of the manager prior, creating the very furor that a food blogger is looking to avoid? This town needs an enema!

On to dinner. First thing I notice upon unwrapping the burger is that the bottom bun is very soggy. Either thin mayo or sweating lettuce or both were to blame. Halfway through the burger it had entire disintegrated, so I was forced to hold that last bit by the patty itself. A big downside of shredded lettuce, besides it giving up water like no other, it also wilts rapidly and therefore loses all worthwhile texture. Gross. The patties were a bit dry and overdone. Not that you expect medium rare, but a burger can be done all the way through and still be moist. The other problem is that I order mine without onions, but their grill is so inundated with their flavor that I spent 5 minutes picking through the lettuce looking for the offending shred of onion my nose declared MUST be in there. And sadly the bacon was overdone as well, what wasn’t dental bill boostingly crunchy was pure rubber and lacked flavor. Overall, an edible burger, but far too expensive to be that unimpressive and have that many faults.

The French fries, which I’m told many consider the bar by which a burger joint is judged, were also sadly lacking. The seasoning wasn’t anything special with no distinct flavors, with a chewy yet gummy texture. It’s odd for French fries to stick to your teeth like taffy. At least the malt was enjoyable. Although if a place screws up ice cream with malt powder and milk in a blender and topped with whipped cream, they should probably have corks on their forks, if you know what I mean Rupert.

Alas, I can’t really recommend them to a discerning public for either flavor or value. But I can always beat the drums of my favorites like Yoshino’s, Cracked Pepper Bistro, The Landmark and Don Pepe’s. Plus there are plenty more nooks and crannies of the Fresno foodiverse for me to probe. I’m thinking with the change of the seasons I need to snoop around for some soul food and barbeque. To the streets!