“It’s the best burger I’ve ever eaten!” friend Lois texted with smilie faces. “It’s not fancy or anything, but they make a really good burger. You design it yourself by filling out a check-off form.”
I’m not a huge burger fan but I trusted Lois’s judgment and the process intrigued me, so the day after New Year’s John and I headed to Central Avenue.
Everyday’s Build A Burger Pub looks like a bar because, well, it is a bar. The building sports three doors: one on the left for the dining area consisting of nine tables and two peninsulas off the bar. A door on the right leads to the U-shaped bar, pool table and dart board, while a third door in the rear leads to a large deck with summer patio seating.
No two tables are alike: high-topped, low, peninsular, booth. A small round table in front of a gas fireplace was our cozy choice, a booth or two away from a small slightly elevated bandstand.
John’s cola arrived in a pitcher ($2.50) while my amber beer was served by the pint. Bartender Matt had stepped out from behind his usual position as barkeep to deliver menus and a thick stack of paper napkins, to take our orders and to serve us. I was impressed by his versatility.
A half sheet of pale yellow paper was devoted entirely to describing and ordering the Ground Steak Burger ($10). Or similar Charbroiled, Breaded or Sloppy Chicken, or Pulled Pork ($11). Or Carne Asada Beef (marinated and sliced, $12). We opted for the Everyday’s regular burger—a wise choice as it turned out.
While Willie Nelson and John Denver serenaded us softly from one of the dozen televisions and four patrons sipped their beverages at the bar, we studied the variations.
How did we want the burger prepared? Rare? Medium rare? Medium? Medium well? Well?
Should we choose chips, fries, cottage cheese or seasonal salad (macaroni the night we visited)?
Hot additions? Cherry peppers, fried mushrooms, fried bell peppers, fried onions?
Complimentary mozzarella, cheddar or American (for one, $2 for each additional cheese)?
Cold additions on the side? (5 complimentary—additional items were $1 each: from the usual lettuce, tomato and raw onions, to assorted peppers and sauces like pico de gallo and cranberry mayo).
Blackening spice and marinara were $2 extra, while bacon was an additional $3.
Our personalized burgers arrived quickly, and it was then we learned Matt was tonight’s cook as well as making up the complete staff. Even tired from a long New Year’s Eve and Day duty, Matt retained his speed and sense of humor.
The food was excellent. Our burger buns were branded with a Build a Burger insignia. My tomatoes, while of the paler winter variety, were large and sliced perfectly thin. The cherry peppers were vinegary with ample heat, though the excellent macaroni salad was on the verge of being too salty. John declared his “French fried potatoes were sliced here.” We later noted that the menu confirmed “fresh cut fries.”
The only miscalculation: both burgers were cooked a notch above medium rare. My usual fussy self would have sent the burger back to the kitchen (an open small rear corner of the square building). But since neither flavor, juiciness nor tenderness were marred by the slight over grilling, I did not mention the minor problem to Matt until the end of the meal. Although he was genuinely apologetic, both John and I agreed the lack of pink had not interfered with our meal.
Matt graciously showed us the kitchen. When he mentioned “wings,” John and I looked at each other in surprise. “Wings?!”
Matt explained that since we walked in talking about Everyday’s Black Angus burgers, he assumed that was what we wanted. The more complete main menu boasted three categories of food: Chicken Central ($10) which included wings of many varieties from barbecue to Cajun to honey and beyond, Cheddar Cheese Quesadillas ($6) using many of the already mentioned burger toppings, and Starters (from salads at $4, to fries at $3, to mozzarella stix at $9, mini chimichangas for $9, mini pollo funditos for $10, and a platter for $12).
He apologized that the coffee machine was hung over from New Year’s and coffee was not available. And customers had recently lost interest in dessert. John admitted he did not feel underfed, but we’d surely return to Everyday’s Build A Burger Pub to construct another masterpiece.
Everyday’s Build A Burger Pub
WHERE: 2012 Central Avenue, Albany, 869-0494 BuildaBurgerPub.com
WHEN: Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
HOW MUCH: $22.50 for two Black Angus burgers and a soda without tax and tip
MORE INFO: accessible, parking lot, all major credit cards accepted, background music permits conversation, outside patio available in warm weather