Cloverleaf Tavern’s Fat Burger & some beers

Now, in California I love me some Fatburger, almost as much as In-N-Out. One popped up in Jersey City and went out of business before I could try one, but I imagine the franchise dilutes the brand. I remember Fatburger being as tasty as a Steak ‘n Shake Steakburger, which is serious business. So when my go-to beer bar, the Cloverleaf Tavern in Caldwell, put a Fat Burger on the menu, I was intrigued; were they varying from their standard, reliable pub burgers? Nope, they were topping it with Taylor Ham pork roll, Monterey Jack cheese sticks, onion strings, and mystery sauce that looked a lot like Russian dressing. It was probably the ol’ ketchup ‘n mayo with some spices.

The Clover makes a good burger, but overcooks everything by at least one degree, so I ordered this medium rare. In the age of seven types of E.coli traveling from cow rectums to your mouth, that is something I rarely do at a restaurant unless I trust them. The Clover’s been okay so far, and I lived to tell the tale. I’d recommend never going more than medium on their burgers, because the flavor gets quickly lost. Especially on their more popular patties, like this one, the Mojo, and the Country Bourbon burger, because they have so many toppings. Their Buffalo burgers are more flavorful, but don’t deserve to be overcooked either. The Fat Burger tasted exactly as you’d expect, covered with gooey Jack cheese sticks- which still had crisp breading- and the rest. I’m always disappointed in pork roll at restaurants because they don’t get a char on it. Next time I’ll ask them to make it crispy. Same with bacon- who the hell wants limp bacon on a burger?

However, the burger was good overall. It was not a knock your socks off combo, but the cheese sticks really livened things up, and keeping it medium rare made sure the beefy flavor of the burger wasn’t drowned out. Their sweet potato fries remain the best around, crisp outside and deliciously soft inside, much like their Trail Cut fries, crescent wedges of crisp potato with an almost creamy mashed potato within. You really can’t beat their fries at a pub around here, and their beer selection is excellent. I had a 21st Amendment Back in Black IPA with mine, and it was smooth and not too bitey, almost like a black lager with lots of hops. I enjoyed it a lot. I had a fine, smooth Ipswich Oatmeal stout for seconds, but it wasn’t as memorable as standards like Samuel Smith. 21st Amendment makes some interesting brews, and their sixpack cans are available at ShopRite, so I’ll be getting more soon. The Fat Burger may only be around for a week, so go to the Clover soon if you want it. Or make one at home! Why have cheese sticks on the side, when they add crunch and rich cheese flavor to a burger? You might as well exercise for something.

© 2010 Tommy Salami