The Graduate has been in Davis for over 40 years. It’s a sports bar/restaurant/dance hall right across the street from the campus of UC Davis. Seeing how close they are to a college campus the food there doesn’t have to be good there for it to sell well. So, I wasn’t really optimistic about how this burger would rate. Though, I did have a few friends who were adamant that the burgers at the Grad not only weren’t bad but that they were actually good. I had doubts. They came along with me last weekend to check it out. This was my very first visit to the Graduate. I had managed to avoid it, and its dance floor, during my undergrad education and so had no experience with the location until that day.
You know you’ve lived in a place for too long when you start recalling places ‘new’ when they’ve been in operation for over a decade. Bistro 33 still seems like a ‘new’ place to me. I remember their opening and I remember despite being in what is probably the best location in Davis, in one of the most beautiful buildings in Davis (listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, by the way,) the service and food being disappointing. That was a long time ago and even though I went in to this review with some bias, I can’t deny that the burger I had there last week was great.
Cindy’s is a strange diner. During the mornings and afternoons it’s your standard home-grown, greasy spoon diner that every town in America, no matter the size, has at least one of. Eggs, pork, and pancakes in the morning and burgers, fries, shakes in the afternoon. At night though the place becomes a Thai restaurant. I have no idea if it’s the same cooks working in the back or there’s a swap at between 2pm and 5pm when the place is closed.
I’m mostly familiar with Cindy’s breakfast menu, having frequented it often during my college years in Davis on weekends with friends. It tastes pretty much as you’d expect a greasy spoon to taste. They do know how to cook a runny egg and make white gravy though so I’ve never had any complaints.
Burgers and Brew is a order at the counter and have food brought out to you style of restaurant that is popular with the college crowd. The day I went it also seemed popular with the Davis crowd. The line for the counter was going out the door and all the seating was taken. I had to stand around for awhile before grabbing a table as soon as the people sitting there left. The noise was deafening. I had hopes for this burger. It looked good on the plate. It smelled good. Sadly, the it didn’t perform as well as on the taste test. Results below!
Patty (20/35) – Medium rare! Just like I ordered! Thick patty. Seasoning leans a little too heavily on salt. Very, very greasy. Soaked through the bun in no time. Got everywhere.
Cheese (6/25) – Another single, thin slice of mild cheddar.
Bun (10/15) – Toasted sesame bun. Airy with a little crunch. Bottom soaked through with grease.
Toppings (13/15) – Fresh romaine lettuce, thick tomato and red onion slices. All fresh and crisp. Pickle spear on the side (would have been more points if the pickle was in the burger.)
Condiments (3/10) – Just a giant glob of mayonnaise. Ketchup and mustard were at other tables but not mine.
Ambiance (5/*) – Nice outdoor sitting. Overcrowded and loud. So noisy.
Total (57/100) – B&B cheeseburger is close to being a good burger. It’s on the cusp of it. It definitely isn’t a bad burger. If I had eaten it faster perhaps the bun wouldn’t have been so wet? If my table had been stocked maybe the mustard I added would have cut through the mayo? Maybe if it had come ‘medium’ or ‘done’ it wouldn’t have been a giant grease sponge? This burger rides that line right between bad and good. The bun is fine and the toppings are top notch. $8.95 for burger and fries. $0.85 cents more to have onion rings instead.