out-cooked

Why not, says I. I'll write about that new (to Richmond) burger joint, Cook Out, in the old Bullet's location by Regency in the West End. When RVAFoodie posted about this place today, he remarked that his wife, "couldn’t recall what a Five Guys burger tasted like, but she couldn’t imagine it could possibly taste any better." Having just enjoyed Five Guys for dinner last night, I made the terrible decision of having a bacon cheeseburger two meals in a row and headed down Parham Road on my lunch break.

Yes, the menu is pretty cheap. This is, indeed, fast food - both in speed and prices (more in the Wendy's than Mickey-D's range). My combo was ready by the time I drove up to the window - surprising for something that was freshly-grilled - and the cashier pleasantly delivered her valedictory, "See you tomorrow!"

The problem is that the food also tastes cheap. It's not bad - it's certainly better than McDonald's, Burger King, Sonic, and Wendy's (but only slightly), but I won't be making the slightly out-of-the-way trip for another Cook Out burger any time soon. The fries were decent, if not crispy enough, but the other side (you pick two sides!) consisted of generic, formed chicken nuggets. I really enjoyed my mint chocolate chip milkshake, actually, but that was the only high point. The burger? Consider this my dismissive, "meh." Let's just say that grilled doesn't automatically equal good. The first bite or so was nice as the vague Burger King-esque charred flavor gave way to real flame cooking. But the burger patty itself was just boring. The bland bacon and cheddar cheese "sauce" didn't do much to help. If RVAFoodie's wife liked it better than or thought it equal to Five Guys, that's fine - she's not wrong, we just have different taste. For my part, though, I'd only go back for a milk shake.

One more thing, just because RVAFoodie asked me about it on Twitter: the whole religious angle of the company. It turns out that cups and other packaging come with a mixture of Biblical scripture references and religious/patriotic phrases. Of course, I'm a Christian. I make no effort (consciously) to hide it, so I'm not offended by the sight of a scripture reference - especially now that I've looked them up. I'm also trying very hard not to be cynical about the reason for including religious material on food packaging. I don't know whether they're sincere or being manipulative, so I'll make no conjecture.

Does it bug you that the business owners publicize their faith on their own products? Don't support their business. I don't agree with the humanistic messages of many manufacturers, but if I was offended enough by one I'd simply take my money elsewhere. Does it bug you that the owners have religious messages on total junk food? I guess a Christian should never sell triple cream cheeses, either (I'm not comparing the quality of the two types of food - but nobody can tell me that regular consumption of triple cream cheeses is good for your arteries). I am, however, bothered by the conflation of religion and patriotism, but only barely in this case. It's not in my face, and its not spelled out in much detail (Triteness aside, if you like where you live and you believe in a God who blesses, why not ask Him to bless where you live? That's hardly threatening on its own.).

Ultimately, it's the food that counts here as far as I'm concerned. And it doesn't add up to much. Unless I'm near Regency or have a sudden craving for one of their shakes, I'll probably forget about Cook Out by the end of next week.