I love a good burger. Lately my local favorite is at Elevation Burger (full review) where they use grass-fed organic beef. But it’s a fast food style joint, with a limited menu, so sometimes you want a little more variety available. Nearby on Church Street, you’ll find organic at the expensive bistro named Market, which I’ve yet to try. A few steps further and you’ll find everyone’s favorite brunch place, a gastro-diner and soda fountain named Raymond’s that’s served Montclair for over 20 years, and they make a fine burger. It’s a bit on the pricey side, about twice as much as Elevation, but filling and worth it if you want a bigger menu.
I’m giving Raymond’s short shrift. Their burger is probably the least amazing dish I’ve had there, aside from some unimpressive smoked salmon scrambled eggs once. They usually knock the ball out of the park, such as with their fantastic, Southern Belle-approved Shrimp & Grits, massive slabs of tasty meat loaf, a Fried Green Tomato BLT that I didn’t want to end, and their famous baguette French toast. The first bites of the burger were great- a buttered sesame seed bun, extra pepper jack cheese, good beef flavor. But it lacked some char, yet didn’t have the greasy goodness of a griddle burger either. It was almost closing time, and perhaps the cook was rushed. It was cooked to order medium, and next time I’ll get medium rare. That might make all the difference. I’m very judgmental of a burger, and they certainly shamed the Cloverleaf Tavern for Best of Essex. But I was hoping for a slightly larger Elevation Burger, I suppose.
They did a good job, but it wasn’t as good as their other offerings. I’d definitely try it again, perhaps with their usually perfect bacon to add some needed grease. They made an excellent egg cream, and their sparkling pomegranate lemonade- Firecracker’s favorite- was delicious as usual. The garlic mashed potatoes that came with her meat loaf were rich and perfectly seasoned, the sauteed spinach as well. The serving was enough to make lunch for tomorrow, even though we hadn’t eaten for eight hours. I’ll crock up the unevenly cooked french fries- some perfect, some undercooked- to it being near closing time as well. One suggestion for a burger special- put those fried green tomatoes on top. That would be something. The bun is a little weak to handle the large burger patty as well, but it’s tasty enough. So, not a perfect burger worth a special trip for, but not a disappointment. If you get dragged there for brunch and for some reason don’t want their hard to beat breakfast dishes- some of the best I’ve had- you can safely get a good burger here that is more of a tasty pub burger than the usual diner type you can get all over Jersey.
© 2010 Tommy Salami