The strip mall that once contained Underground Bluz, Lazy Moon, Fubar and Knights Library, all very popular late night hangouts for UCF students, has been torn down, and with it some of our favorite foods (who doesn't love Lazy Moon pizza, honestly). What is going there? I am not terribly certain, but don't fret, Lazy Moon and Knights Library have returned, and with it some new additions to the UCF student's freshman 15 menu.
I stumbled upon Burger 21 completely on accident. I had parked at the miniature plaza with the intention of snagging some Tijuana Flats and then sitting at the neighboring World of Beer for a few hours, but was pulled away from this when a friend of mine shouted, "What!? They opened a burger place here?" Naturally, this caught my attention, and checking the place out quickly turned into ordering from the menu and finding a seat. I was excited. I no longer live on the east side, but I frequent it for work, school and friends. It was nice to think I would not have to hit up a TGI Fridays or Smokey Bones for a burger anymore.
The place looks fancy. There's another Burger 21 in the Millenia area, and I can only imagine that it looks similar to its UCF location because the decor was much different than most places in the area. Truthfully, it was a nice change from the dingy dark places that every UCF area restaurant seems to fancy, save for, perhaps, IHOP and Steak and Shake. It's almost welcoming.
And what better location than next to a bar, that allows outside food? Good call on your part, Burger 21.
The menu is excellent, many choices, from veggie burgers, to fish burgers and even a healthier bun less option for their more health conscious clientele (they lay it over a salad; its not rocket science, but its a wonder more places don't do it). They also have a Shake Bar, where they "specialize" in, yes, you guessed it, milkshakes. An interesting concept, especially for the area.
The restaurant also has a small sauce bar. They have their typical choices of ketchup, mustard and mayo, but also a few more interesting sauces to pick from. How would you like to try Apple Cider sauce on your burger? How about Toasted Marshmallow? No? Yeah, well, me neither, but the effort and the ingenuity was duly noted.
And so my poison at Burger 21? I ordered the Tex-Mex Haystack: guacamole, bacon, onion straws, lettuce, tomatoes, Gouda and chipotle-jalapeno sauce. Guacamole on a burger is probably one of my favorite things.
But the burger fell short for me. Actually, it fell far shorter than I ever expected or even imagined for a place that has such a high rating with others. Was it juicy? Yes. Absolutely. Very, actually. But despite all of this, the meat itself was bland, didn't taste good or hold together as if it was cooked on a grill. It was almost as if it was microwaved (gross, I know, but it's the truth). The plethora of ingredients that I was sure would make my burger unstoppable once I started, took over and beat out the taste of the meat, leaving me wondering if the ground beef was actually a figment of my imagination. Surely, with how it tasted, I was only eating a guacamole sandwich. And on top of all of this, my burger fell apart. Literally, from the first bite, pieces of my meat, of the cheese, the onion strings, the lettuce, began falling out until halfway through, I was picking up pieces with my fingers like I was eating curry.
The fries I chose, they were of the shoestring variety, were their famous Cheese and Ale fries.
Cheese and Ale fries are nothing than white cheese sauce that is just as tasteless as their burgers. I actually mixed mine with BBQ sauce in an effort to get some sort of flavor from something.
I am fairly certain that my only enjoyable portion of that meal was my Sprite.
My final ruling for Burger 21? Would I go there with friends again? Would I take my mother there for lunch or stop by there after class? Probably not. The jazzy idea of the gourmet burger is definitely not lost on Burger 21, but Burger 21 offers very little aside from a very well lit place to read a book while finishing your fountain drink (they are delicious).