The Dish: Great American cheeseburger
The Location: Old Dominion Brewhouse, 1219 9th Street NW, (202) 289-8158.
The Price: $8.99
The Skinny: Everywhere I turn at the Old Dominion Brewhouse, an elegantly cheesy pub tucked into an armpit of the Washington Convention Center, someone is opining about something. But the only person whose opinion I care about right now is Andrew, my server. He’s a warm breeze compared to all the windy blowholes spouting their thoughts on every sports subject under the sun, on one of the many TVs that keeping sucking my attention away from my reading material. Sometimes I really hate the black-hole vacuum of TVs in restaurants and bars. Andrew serves as an anchor, though, preventing me from floating away into the speculative, drama-addicted world of sports TV. He’s happy to talk about the beer on tap, how the sale of the Old Dominion Brewery to a company partially owned by Anheuser-Busch might affect the pub (not at all, he thinks), and the relative merits of the dishes on this eager-to-please, lapdog of a menu. He steers me away from the chili—-too tart, he believes—-and toward the “Great American cheeseburger,” which he says is a rectangular patty tucked into a toasted submarine roll. Thinking back to the pleasures of my first, savory bite into a square Wendy’s burger all those years ago, I take Andrew’s advice. The sandwich lives up to its patriotic billing, at least in my mind. The grill marks and char on the two rectangles of ground beef—-which combine to form my foot-long cheeseburger—-remind me of the family backyard “barbecues” of my youth. The mouth feel on this burger, each patty tightly blanketed in American cheese, is thick and lush. The fat unctuous. The roll crusty. The meat seasoned and juicy. I don’t even mind that the patties are cooked differently, one a perfect medium-rare red and the other a pinkish, grayish medium. This, too, takes me back—-to when Dad, a beer in hand, would fall asleep at the grill.