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[Photo: Carey Jones]

Bobby's Burger Palace

Mohegan Sun, 1 Mohegan Sun Boulevard, Uncasville CT 06382 (map); 860-862-2277; bobbysburgerpalace.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: A memorably tasty burger from a joint with very mixed reviews
Want Fries with That? Yes, crisp and salty
Prices: Burgers, $6.50-7.50; fries, $2.50; milkshake, $5 without booze, $9 with

When I stopped by Bobby's Burger Palace at Mohegan Sun, I have to say that I was more excited about the vanilla-caramel-bourbon milkshake than the burger. I'd read Nick Solares's 2008 review of a BBP location on Long Island and, after hearing that his burger "was incinerated to the point that it was utterly flavorless," almost didn't order one at all. It was only at my always-hungry companion's behest that we got a burger, so I let him place the order: one Philadelphia burger ($7.50), with provolone, griddled onions, and hot peppers. I did insist on the temperature: medium rare. But the pleasant woman behind the counter replied,

We generally cook to one of two temperatures—medium and well done. But what we call "medium" is a very rosy pink all the way through. It's probably what you're looking for.

Well, okay then.

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What they promised was what they delivered. The middle 85 percent of my burger was a vivid pink, and absolutely oozing with juices. Even better, the outside edges developed a substantial crust on the griddle, giving the burger a real textural contrast between inside and out. Vivid beefy flavor dominated each bite. The patties, we learned, are made from Certified Angus Beef at production facility Burger Makers, whole chucks (not scraps) ground at an 80/20 meat-to-fat blend.

The provolone cheese, while a little out of proportion with the burger—it came down and over the sides—added just a little salty-creaminess, and was as melty as cheese could be. (They add cheese while the burger's still on the griddle, and then cover it with a dome to steam it melty.) The patty was hugged by what was essentially a standard white squishy bun with sesame seeds, and it was a good match for the burger, just thick enough to soak up the beef's considerable juiciness, but nowhere near thick enough to get in the way.

I probably wouldn't order the Philadelphia burger again—the peppers were a bit large and didn't integrate well, sliding off the cheese and overwhelming every bite they crossed. But burger, cheese, and bun were great enough that I'd go back for another burger in a minute.

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The fries are totally different than the crinkle-cut fries Nick wrote about; skin-on, super-crisp, and more than amply salted, they almost outshone the burger. Some were afflicted with that unfortunate "hollow fry" syndrome—all crunch, no interior—but most did have a fluffy potato interior, and all were gone within minutes.

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And the bourbon shake I went for in the first place? It's tasty, a thick, creamy vanilla shake with caramel sauce sparingly applied; you taste the bourbon, for sure, but in the way you taste the vanilla. It's there, but it's hardly a boozy drink. (If a kid got his hands on it, he'd probably drink it happily.)

I left Bobby's Burger Palace surprised that I'd had such a great meal when the reviews I'd heard hadn't been that positive. Hell, for all I know, maybe they'd had their best griddle guys on the line, since Mr. Flay himself was on the premises for the Winefest. (Ripping up the $10 craps tables 'til 9 a.m., a reliable source has told us.)

This was a pretty impressive burger, certainly by fast-casual standards, and especially by the standards of universally mediocre casino food. But, as with casinos, ordering a burger at a small chain can be a game of chance. Who else has been to a Bobby's Burger Palace? And how was the burger you tried?

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