For a while now I've been getting an earful from my roommate about Evo's Kobe Beef burger, especially in comparison to what I feel like is the best burger in the City and top 5 in the state, the burgers from Boomers. After being treated to multiple rants, references, and rhapsody about the quality of the burger here, I decided to come check it out on a Friday night with a party of 4.
Initial impressions were mixed. The outside sported the usual almost-run-down facade typical of Worcester, at variance with an automatically opening door leading to the cozy hallway of the entrance. Next door was a market called "The Living Earth." To be honest, I've never even seen this market on my trips up and down Park Avenue, let alone contemplated browsing it. To be even more honest, when I saw it today I thought it was a front for a marijuana operation.
But I digress. The inside of Evo was quite nice, a lot more upscale and less divey than was expecting. The room was lit in warm colors and decorated cheerily but not heavy-handedly, and everything seemed clean and in good order. I was actually expecting a pleasant experience, my starved mind already drawing up visions of the future when this would be my go-to "nice" restaurant in Worcester.
Unfortunately, my dreams were shattered by the first snag of the evening--A 30-40 minute wait for seating. I can already hear protests of "Oh, that's not unreasonable at all for a Friday night in a good restaurant!" Hush. The initial 40-minute wait was not the issue. It was when we came back after 40 minutes and were told that it would be another half hour wait despite there being 4-5 empty tables in plain sight that I started getting angry. The empty tables showed a horrible problem with logistics on their part; either they were understaffed and someone should have manned up, or they really could not keep track of what tables were seated or not. On top of this, the greeters'n'seaters were obviously too inexperienced to even give us a proper estimate on waiting time. Pile on top of this the condescension when they said they would "seat us anyway", and well... Let's just say that the only reason I didn't leave was because I really, really wanted a burger. Luckily, our actual waitress was friendly and much less grating. Likeable, even.
The immediate oddity I noticed on the menu was the beverage choice. Their list of sodas lacked staples like Coke, Sprite, and even Pepsi. It was... Eccentric, to say the least. I ordered a "coke" before realizing it was RC Cola--It ended up tasting like a beverage that I imagine would be called "assjuice." I ended up trading for a ginger ale which was acceptable. But the drinks aren't the point, are they? The burger is.
I, quite predictably, ordered the Kobe Beef burger, medium rare, with the Classic (their term) topping combination: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and cheddar cheese, served on a buttered brioche bun. Now, anyone who's spoken to me for any amount of time knows I appreciate a good burger. And even more, I appreciate good meat dripping blood and fat and juice. One of the very very few ways to really offend me is to even suggest the notion of a "well-done" steak. And here, dear readers, lies the biggest travesty of the night. My burger came out... Well-done. Now, I don't really mind a well-cooked burger if the rest of it is made to fit it. When everything else has a good amount of punch and the entire thing works together, I can survive if my burger doesn't bleed. Hell, even if it's just purposely fired halfway to hell with charcoal, at least it has flavor. But in the case of the Kobe Beef Burger, where everything hinges on a delicate (and expensive!) patty, where that piece of ground beef is practically a steak... What kind of a half-assed piss-for-brains spastic horse-fucker would you have be to serve it BROWN? I'm not talking medium-well-done-hey-look-it's-still-a-tiny-bit-pink. This was fully cooked and then some. All the flavor was lost as well as all the moisture, and I ended up with a slightly fancier patty that was drier than my Amazon cardboard box and that I could have, really, gotten at McDonald's. Did the beef taste slightly better than, say, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese? Sure. Did it costs 3 times as much? Youbetcha. Yes, I could have done the American thing and sent it back, but at that point between the front desk and the soda and the waiting I was just tired of the place and wanted to end it as quickly as possible. That, and I don't tend to give second chances on offenses of this magnitude.
Was this a fluke? Maybe. Everyone around me was almost moaning in gastronomic bliss (perhaps there was LSD in their water) and when I glanced over, their burgers were at least pink on the inside. Will I give it a second chance? Maybe if I'm extremely bored and I don't have to pay for it. It's not the worst place I've ever eaten; not by a longshot. But after paying $15 for a smallish mediocre burger with mamby-pamby ingredients and a wimpy pile of high-school-lunch-style fries? I can only flash the good ol' One Finger Salute and bid thee farewell.