I for one was excited about our last home-grown burger joint. I liked the premise — local, natural, nonhormonal meat with local additions served by locals. While it translated to a pricier burger, it felt better. Of course, after the, uh, boom, that idea left a sour taste in many people’s mouths. Enter Station 2 and Burgerworks. Mere months after the explosive closing of one burger place, two more open following close in the conceptual footpath.
Located downtown in a renovated firehouse, the airy space that is Station 2 is almost a burger-sports bar — all it needs are a few more TVs and some education for sports fans about local beers and the natural Buffalo Creek beef. Charlottesville’s Blue Mountain Uber-Pils ($6) makes a great sidekick to the George Orwell burger ($10). A couple of fried eggs and bacon with askew mozzarella top this smallish patty, and the healthy dose of mayonnaise on the thick Texas toast compounds the need to run a couple of miles afterwards. The New Mexico burger ($9) is all about the whole smoky roasted green chile, and the bacon and thick slice of pepper-jack cheese.
For now, steer clear of the char-grilled wings. After the waitress explains their lengthy cooking process, we expect to get a festival over an open flame char. We’re surprised to receive hot and spicy Asian wings ($7) that taste manufactured and are missing the hot and the Asian. Potato shingles ($4) are one baked potato, if that, sliced thinly. On one occasion, the appetizer reaches the table underdone, and on another, potato-chip crispy. An order of loaded french fries ($7) is delicious but leaves us wondering where the remainder of the dish is. But with a little help from a Naughty Girl Scout ($7), an adult milkshake with vanilla ice cream, crème de menthe, Irish cream, crème de cacao and a few well-placed chocolate chips, the missing french fries are forgotten.
Several miles west, Burgerworks is doing the same idea differently. All-natural beef is a mix of chuck, short rib and brisket. Milkshakes are thick but all kid-friendly. A confusing ordering system works against this lunch-heavy establishment, but once it’s all sorted out, eat-in will be an adventure and take-out will be a better idea until the rush is over about 2 p.m.
The BBQ bison burger at $10.99 is expensive but excellent. Something clicks between dill pickles, barbecue, white cheddar and the large bison patty. If it weren’t so pricey, I would eat it every week. If you are more of a beef traditionalist, the S.O.B ($7.99) is a good Southwestern rendition. Tri-colored tortilla strips, fresh jalapenos and house-made guacamole add messy flavor to a burger that is commendable.
Sides are equally dead-on. Hand-breaded onion rings ($3.99), are thin and sweet. Salty, almost-translucent pickle slices ($3.99) are lightly fried in the same house buttermilk batter. French fries ($2.99) are hand cut daily and boardwalk style. Options for a very greasy Parmesan tossing ($3.49), which is at times more of a shellacking, or the ubiquitous bacon and cheddar ($5.49) are large enough portions to share.
Each place is hopping with business. Service at Station 2 is off-the-charts efficient. With a little more time, Burgerworks should find its service groove, its liquor license and maybe a fax machine for menu sharing — and I’m hoping a burger happy hour too. S
2016 E. Main St.
Open daily 11 a.m. - 2 a.m.
10321 W. Broad St.
Glen Allen 23060
Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.