Stratford, Connecticut: Danny's Drive-In
940 Ferry Boulevard, Stratford CT 06614; map); 203-378-6728; dannysdrive-in.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: Circa 1935 drive-in serves a decent, but not world beating burger.
Want Fries with That? Yes; they're crinkle cut, crispy, and golden.
Price: Hamburger Works, $3.35; Cheeseburger Works, $3.70; fries, $2.50
Notes: Second location open in Shelton, Connecticut.
Back in 1965, Fred DeLuca and Dr. Peter Buck opened a submarine sandwich shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It would eventually grow to become the Subway chain.
What does this have to do with Danny's Drive-In, located in nearby Stratford? Not much, except the toppings that Danny's serves on their burgers are strikingly similar to those that grace a Subway sandwich. Of course, lettuce, tomato, and onion are nothing new on a burger, but the green pepper and white American cheese that Danny's adds to theirs is unusual and leads me to believe that just maybe the founders of Subway ate at Danny's and took notes.
Danny's Drive-In dates back to 1935 and has been a local favorite ever since. Specializing in both hot dogs and hamburgers, Danny's menu offers all manner of toppings on both, such as the legendary Kuhn's chili, jalapeños, BBQ sauce, and bacon. But even the standard burger comes with the "works"—lettuce, tomato, onion, and green pepper. Mayo, ketchup, and mustard are optional.
The relative leanness of the quarter-pound patty—both physically and in terms of the fat content—mean that this is a burger that is best served with the "works." Stripped of the toppings, the beef-to-bun ratio is skewed towards the latter, but dressed up, it attains a pleasing balance. The beef is tasty enough with a fresh flavor, and it has a nice sear on the outside. Forget trying to get this burger cooked to order. Even if the counter will pay lip service to the concept, the burgers come out invariably cooked through.
The bread is a generic white bun, my favorite type, and here it does an admirable job. The rabbit food was crispy and vibrant, the cheese perfectly melted. But not being a big fan of green pepper on a hamburger (or anything else), I found myself deconstructing the burger at Danny's to remove its insipid contribution despite the unique aspect of the topping. I am not alone in my dislike of green pepper.
Danny's may not be the last word in burgers, but it does have its charms, and not just because it is so old. I would much rather eat the burger here, even with green pepper, than I would a Subway sandwich. But that is true of almost any burger.