Review #31 - Griff's Burger Bar

Posted by Burgermeister Meisterburger | | Posted On Monday, August 10, 2009 at 10:12 PM

On the heals of a recent uptick in the popularity of our blog, I have to admit that some of us, myself included, were feeling a little cocky with our ever-escalating hit count and the (mostly, but definitely not all) favorable comments that you, our audience, were posting to the blog. That's why I, as Supreme Burgermeister of the Meisterburger Realm, and a firm believer that a regular self-flagellation does a body and soul good, ordered the troops to the south side location of a remaining outpost of a once-proud, now-defunct, national burger chain named "Griff's."

It is important that we stay true to our original mission. Its not just about eating $20 Oros platinum burgers, visiting the "Hot Mom" capital of San Antonio (GBG), giving San Antonio a preview of a newly-opened chain from the east coast (Five Guys) or paying homage to San Antonio classics (Chris Madrid’s, Lord’s Kitchen). It's about spending time in the weeds, so that you don't have to. It's about finding that diamond in the rough. It's about giving legitimate burger joints a voice so that they can be heard loud and clear above the noise and bustle of the Alamo City!

Well folks, if that little guy on the Griff’s cup had a voice, it would be a withered, old, smoker’s-cough-laden, croak of a voice. There is no special gem among the weeds on Pleasanton Street just south of Military drive.

In writing this review, I decided it was appropriate to explain what would make a burger a "0". Here are the standards:

1) A stale bun - the harder the better, or worser, as the case may be.
2) Old vegetables - withered lettuce, slimy tomatoes
3) Funny fish smell - this generally speaks to rancid meat, but can be caused by a wide variety of other things, so it is still necessary to eat the burger
4) Warm condiments - this is evidence of a lack of suitable refrigeration
5) Heavy grease content – not the grease that results from the fat drippings associated with cooking fresh meat on a grill or a griddle, but the “I haven’t cleaned the griddle for weeks” kind of grease

The Burger - 2.5 out of 10

Griff’s had some but not all of the above qualities so they miss achieving the perfect “0” mark. We all experienced stale buns and withered lettuce, but the tomatoes looked relatively fresh. There was a distinct funny fish smell – but we traced that not to the meat but to the onion rings. The hamburger meat, while uninspiring, did not actually taste bad. Hamburglar and Fry Daddy did make a point about how cold the ketchup was – gee, I guess its been refrigerated – that’s a good sign.

Even the bun on the poster looks stale.

Fry Daddy – The Griff’s burger is, in my opinion, the worst we’ve encountered in our city-wide search. Not only was the bun stale, the beef patties (both of them, since I was foolish enough to order a double) tasted stale as well, if that’s possible, and were quite tough. The mustard seemed fresh, though.

Burger Boy - Salty meat in a stale bun might work in the movies, but this is one burger that I definitely can quit.

Peppermeat Patty - They really get mileage out of their ingredients. Nothing goes to waste. The ketchup sure was cold.

Ambiance - 2 out of 10

Imagine, if you will, that you are a cross-country traveller in the 1950's and '60's. You pull off Route 66 into the familiar A-frame shape of a new kind of restaurant - the chain restaurant. It might be a Stuckey's, it might be a Dairy Queen, it might be a Nickerson Farms, it might be Griff's! There is an energy about the place as the friendly waiter, waitress or cashier takes your order and within a few short minutes you have your food and are sitting in the air-conditioned comfort on a new-fangled, laminated chair and table built right into the floor!

Now, take the A-frame . . .

Dump it between an "International Nite Club" . . .

and a Firestone . . .

and choose among these comfortable seating options . . .

and don't update or clean anything for a couple of decades. I can't decide which blogger summed up the ambience the best, so I'll let you choose:

Fry Daddy - The restaurant was permeated by the smell of some chemical antiseptic that did not completely cover up another unpleasant smell, which I was not able to identify (nor did I want to). Griff’s looks like a burger place nearing the end of its death throes. The whole place had a kind of depressing air befitting one of the last individually-operated members of a now-defunct burger chain.

Burger Boy - Since this place was part of a once-nationwide franchise, it had a lot of advertisements that were obviously sent from corporate HQ. Unfortunately, the last time HQ sent anything was back in the 60s, before Griffs was cutoff from the rest of universe. So everything in the restaurant is faded. I’d call it faded glory, but that would imply it had a glory day.

Hamburglar - The only thing going for it was the cold A/C in the heat of the San Antonio summer. (Editor's Note: He also gave Griff's the highest ambiance ranking).

On second thought, I won't let you choose. Hamburglar wins. His comment also explains the ketchup and mustard.

Sides - 3 out of 10

Griff's has two sides on the menu - fries out of a freezer bag and onion rings out of a freezer bag. The onion rings do not mix well with the leftover grease that they were cooked in - it gave them and the whole restaurant a fishy smell.

They also had at least two off-the-menu options for sides.

Whatever the hell this is . . .

and whatever makes you do this . . .

Ketchup is not a side and will NOT be getting its own category in future reviews.

Time for a commercial . . .

I understand that Knaack makes some fantastic worksite job storage chests. See In case yours mysteriously disappeared from your jobsite or from the back of your pickup, I think I found it.

Service - 3 out of 10

One of the most impressive things about Griff’s is the speed at which they delivered my burger. I was the first one to order during the lunchtime frenzy (which included the six of us and the guy having the "Knaack" attack). I paid and within 45 seconds, my platter was delivered to the front counter for pick-up. Interestingly, none of my other dining partners had such prompt service. I guess their burgers were made to order, not left over from the morning batch of pre-cooked burgers.

There also was an air of "just because you are paying me $5.49 for this burger combo, don't think you can mess with me" as demonstrated by this sign.

Well, "customers" and "tasty food" are what keeps a restaurant in business. So, if you want to experience Griff's before it becomes yet another fossil from the Great American past, get there quick.


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