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Chowdown Showdown: Battle of the Signature Burgers, the First

A bacon cheeseburger is a bacon cheeseburger, but a "restaurant X burger" could be anything.

Chowdown Showdown: Battle of the Signature Burgers, the First Chowdown Showdown: Battle of the Signature Burgers, the First Chowdown Showdown: Battle of the Signature Burgers, the First

Pre-season football is on TV, the sun heads for the hills by 8:30, and my time-between-mowings of the lawn has expanded from 6 to nearly 9. Summer is nearing its conclusion, and I’m ready to cash in on my remarkably toned beach-body and start piling on some warming layer.

But a plain, regular cheeseburger isn’t going to satisfy me.

As luck would have it, just about every food venue in town has an eponymous burger. If you own a food establishment and you name a dish after said food establishment, I figure that means you’re proud of your dish and you want me to eat it and remember you for it. So this week I decided to look in to the eye of the monsters that are our local food purveyors.   

Signature burgers: just about everywhere serves one. So this is part one of how many ever restaurants in Yorkville I can get to divide by three.  

The Ultimate Sports Bar is a great place to go on a Sunday if your meager home-collection of televisions isn’t satiating your desire for 40+ televisions – a situation I found myself in just this last weekend. They also serve an Ultimate Sports Bar Burger that is a primed for pairing with a craft beer. It’s a robust looking burger rested carefully on a large, pillowy pretzel bread and draped in fixings. This burger looks like an experience as much as it looks like dinner.  

The taste was good. Fine meat selection, and the provolone cheese I opted for (the menu says “choice of cheese,” which of course is going to be different for everyone) was that rich flavor you expect from provolone - and oh-so-melty. The burger had a richness to it that I hadn’t expected. Grilled onions and mushrooms provide a little depth and texture to round out the burger.  

The Ultimate Sports Bar good: The burger was worthy of being a “signature burger.” Interesting, full flavor. 
The Ultimate Sports Bar bad: The bacon on this burger was cooked with the intention of bridging a stream, it seemed. That is to say it was cooked up to a hardness just beyond crisp. The bacon was also not as much of a flavor-force as I’d have liked.  

What you’re getting with the Legends Burger is a correctly prepared BBQ Cheeseburger. Not only is there ample barbecue sauce, but there are two slices of cheddar cheese, onion straws and, of course, bacon. If you haven’t yet, look at the picture. That’s a gorgeous burger right there.  

The meat and cheese were both of a high quality and good consistency. Interestingly, this was almost a desert burger. The barbecue sauce Legends uses is a sweet sauce, and the “onion straws,” (which were full-on onion rings) were the kind that have a sweet breading. The interesting thing is that this created a great backdrop for the cheddar and the bacon, whose flavors worked my pallet like villagers in a Dickens play – not the focus of the story telling, but it just wouldn’t be fulfilling without.

The Legends good: Oh, that Legends burger is a right proper BBQ cheeseburger. 
The Legends bad: It really was heavily laden with sweet taste – I think a different onion ring or a proper onion straw would just about do it.  

Now this is what I expect of bar food. This is a straight forward cheeseburger, about half the cost of the other two venues we’ve covered, and thick as a Sunday Chicago Tribune would have been in 1995.

Pretty straight forward, it’s served with lettuce, onion, tomato, cheddar, and Swiss cheeses. I was offered the option of mayonnaise on mine, and I accepted the offer.

This bad boy was simply huge. And thoroughly enjoyable. It wasn’t as greasy as I was expecting, the meat was perfectly medium well, and it was as tender as Elvis wanted to be loved. What really struck me was the actual flavor of the beef, a flavor you might expect on your neighbor’s back porch.

The OJ’s good: Just way more burger than you’d expect.
The OJ’s bad: I would have liked a bigger plate. I had a legitimate issue with space, managing fries, burger, and ketchup.

And your winner: OJ's Tap doesn’t enjoy the lore of some other taverns in our area, nor does it enjoy the buzz of some of our newer establishments. However, OJ's is a fixture in Yorkville and, from what I can tell, that may as well be because of the OJ Burger. I just can’t say enough nice things about it. I struggled to fit my first bites in my mouth, it was loaded with flavors, and it didn’t try to do too much. You walk in to a bar for a beer and a burger, and I think this is what most people have in mind.    

Not an easy call, this one. Each hit a spot and was marvelously tasty. Signature burgers; I can’t wait to do a second installment in a few weeks. 

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