Ithaca, New York: Glenwood Pines and the Pinesburger
The Pinesburger is the specialty at this charming little roadside tavern about three miles north of Ithaca on Route 89 (also known as Taughannock Boulevard).
The Pinesburger comes on Ithaca Bakery French bread--the same stuff that the famous Hot Truck French bread pizzas are served on (and what seems to be the ubiquitous bread choice for sandwiches in the area). It's topped with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and your choice of Thousand Island or mayo. I went for Thousand Island, as it seemed to be the thing to do.
The French bread, though, is a little too thick for the sandwichin's--at least on a standard single-patty Pinesburger. I'm guessing the Double Pinesburger might have just the right beef-to-bun ratio.
My Pinesburger came out a couple shades north of the medium-rare I had ordered but was acceptably juicy nonetheless. The burgers are grilled here, and there's just enough charred flavor to tip you to the heat source but not so much that it's all you taste. Patties are ground medium-coarse and are packed moderately tight.
You know I'm not a fries guy, so I went with onion rings. They were OK, not spectacular, just good enough for mindless chompin'. I'd skip them in favor of the deep-fried corn nuggets, a side you don't often see but one that "The Hamburgirl" and I order almost every time we spot them on a menu.
And I think the appropriate beer pairing for the Pinesburger here at this establishment that serves "legal beverages" is a Genny--they've got regular, light, and cream.
The 4 Pinesburger Challenge
I first heard about Glenwood Pines when I polled the folks on Serious Eats about food options in and around Ithaca. And while visiting with the girlfriend, we hung out with some frat brothers who notified us that the place is known locally as "The Pines." They seemed to like it, which I took as a good sign, and they told us about the Pinesburger Challenge: Eat four Pinesburgers in an hour or less, and you get a free T-shirt and your name on the Pinesburger Challenge Wall of Fame. One or two of the brothers had actually finished. I would expect no less.