Thursday, February 14, 2008
Review: Cheeburger Cheeburger
Open since October at Tanglewood Mall, this chain serves up 1950s-style diner food.
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Vinyl-covered stools add to the '50's decor inside Cheeburger Cheeburger.
Stephanie Ogilvie | The Roanoke Times
- Where: Tanglewood Mall, 4234 Electric Road
- Menu: Casual American comfort food
- Price range: $4.89 to $10.49
- Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
- Soda products: Pepsi
- Alcohol? No
- Plastic? Visa, MasterCard, American Express
- Smoking? No
- Takeout? Yes
- Delivery? No
- Reservations? No
- Kid friendly? Yes — children’s menu and high chairs available.
- Handicapped accessibility?
- Vegetarian dishes? Yes
- Patio seating? Yes, weather permitting
- Wireless Internet? Yes
- Live music? No
- Catering? No
- Banquet space? No
- Call: (540) 769-0099
- Fax: (540) 769-0020
- On the Net: www.cheeburger.com
Sandwiched between Stein Mart and a Tanglewood Mall entrance, Cheeburger Cheeburger brings to mind the diners and the casual comfort food of the 1950s. Toe-tapping doo-wop music goes along with big burgers, fried potatoes and onion rings, and luscious milkshakes, floats and ice cream sodas. The nostalgic ambiance embraces pink walls, neon signs, Formica-topped counters, vinyl-covered stools and the necessary quilted aluminum backdrop. Except for my first visit, the place has been busy and boisterous with people having a good time, and it was always clean.
Servers help newcomers understand the complexities of an unbelievably huge menu with its add-ons and personalized salads. It points out there are no hamburgers listed, but the cooks will fix a "cheeburger" without the cheese, if desired, and they are happy to prepare it to your desired degree of doneness, ranging from medium to well-done.
The menu includes the Famous Pounder, a 20-ounce burger ($10.49), which entitles you to having your photo displayed on their "Wall of Famers" if you finish it, followed by the 14-ounce Delirious ($8.49); the half-pound Serious ($6.89); the most-ordered 7-ounce Semi-Serious ($5.89), and finally the 512-ounce Classic ($4.99), referred to as the "beginner burger."
Whichever burger you select, you're entitled to pick one cheese from a list of nine. You can also choose as many toppings as you'd like from a group of 27 items, including the usual lettuce, tomato and mayo, but also the unusual -- peanut butter, marinara sauce, onion rings, mushrooms, bacon, chopped garlic -- you get the idea.
The menu also lists fries, onion rings and "frings" (a combo of fries and onion rings), all fried in peanut oil and available in baskets with cheese sauce or horseradish sauce ($2.19 to $4.99).
The "think lunch and dinner" segment of the menu offers 10 different meals, including grilled portobello mushroom melts or sandwiches ($6.89), chicken finger baskets and sandwiches ($5.99 to $6.89), a chicken breast smothered with Swiss and bleu cheeses ($6.89), a BLT ($4.89) and a simple grilled cheese ($4.89) on white or rye.
CheePlatters present burgers, grilled chicken breast and portobello mushroom meals or combinations of these ingredients for $9.99, all without buns.
The menu also invites you to invent your own salad with heaping platefuls of romaine lettuce, baby greens and spring mix with your choice of grilled portobello, grilled or fried chicken breast and even a Cheeburger on top -- plus any combination of more than 15 salad toppings ($6.99 to $9.99).
A seemingly endless (72 or more) alphabetical list of shakes, sundaes and malts starts with almond and almond joy and ends with vanilla and watermelon.
WHAT I TRIED
Three visits gave me a good idea of the food, service and cleanliness.
Initially, I had a half-size frings basket ($3.79) with the 14-ounce Delirious requested at medium doneness and dolled up with feta cheese, roasted red peppers and chopped black olives. I succumbed to a half-size chocolate chip shake ($2.99) and hated that I loved it.
On my second visit, I ordered a salad plate combining grilled portobello mushroom and juicy, tender grilled chicken breast ($9.99) along with a lemonade ($1.79). An abundance of soft and crunchy lettuces formed a nice bed for the perfectly grilled main ingredients.
On my third outing, I requested a classic burger to go with no trimmings.
I ordered two burgers to medium doneness, and they arrived well-done and chokingly dry. I couldn't even think about having the heavy, leaden fries and dripping-with-oil onion rings again. And it took at least 15 minutes for an order to arrive at the table, even when only a few tables were occupied and there was nothing going on in the place.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Considering the prices and despite the generous portions, this is not inexpensive food, and when it's not good, no matter what quantity is served, it's too costly.