Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery

2000 Sycamore St #260
Cleveland, OH 44113

By Scarlet Pumpernickel

I began my love affair with bourbon based sauces many years ago with a gravy made by an ex-boyfriend. He was a very good cook, and was making a roast beef dinner. He asked for some wine to pick up all the meaty flavor bits in the pan. I decided on the red I was most willing to sacrifice and discovered I didn't know where my corkscrew was. Being ever resourceful, he suggested we use a liquor instead. After a lengthy discussion on the right alcohol to use, we settled on Wild Turkey. The gravy was amazing; I still use the recipe today.

So you can understand how excited I was when I saw the "Bourbonzola Burger" on the menu at Rock Bottom, with three things I love: Bourbon and Gorgonzola cheese on a burger. Immediate thought: spectacular! Unfortunately, the final result was not as exciting as I expected.

The first thing I noticed when the burger was placed in front of me was that the bourbon glaze was served on the side in a little cup. This was a smart move on their part because the glaze was very powerful. It tasted like a very sweet BBQ sauce with a hint of bourbon in it. Putting it on the burger crushed every other flavor present. The beef especially suffered under the tyranny of the glaze. It's not bad meat, but it wasn't extraordinarily flavorful, so only the meaty texture came through. In fact, the only flavor on the burger that was able to stand up to the glaze was the Gorgonzola cheese. Unfortunately, they didn't put enough on the burger to taste it in every bite. On the positive side, the onion straws were perfect. They added just the right crunchy texture.

A delicate application could, I suppose, keep the glaze for crushing the rest of the burger, but it wouldn't fix my number one complaint about the burger: where's the bourbon? Now, I'll admit that I like to drink my liquor straight. I enjoy the taste of bourbon, and when I hear "bourbon glaze" I expect a glaze that tastes like bourbon. Sure, many people wouldn't want a bourbon loaded sauce, but I have two counter arguments to that claim:

1. The sauce comes on the side anyway, they don't have to put it on if they don't like it.
2. There are other burgers on the menu they can order, including one with barbecue sauce.

I know restaurants across the country are trying to spice up their menus with unusual dishes and ingredients, but that's no excuse for over-promising on what is ultimately a perfectly fine burger. It just didn't have the exciting flavors I was expecting, likely out of a misguided fear of making something that might only be appealing to a small group of people. In the end, I will be going back. The place has a good atmosphere, the staff is great, they let us play a Wii on one of the big tvs, and they have a good selection of beers. I'll just go with a classic burger next time.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery on Urbanspoon

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